Valley irrigation officials say the cost of surge-valves and the ability and ease of access and purchase of irrigation water at affordable prices have kept many Valley growers from taking a great interest in any new irrigation technologies. But droughts, international water treaty issues and expanding water needs of cities and other industries in the Valley are causing growers to take notice of the coming water shortage.

In 2010, as part of the larger study, a furrow versus surge valve technology demonstration

associated with the ADI project was completed in the Valley to analyze potential water application and irrigation costs scenarios in cotton production.

The study revealed that as water prices rise and water availability becomes more of an issue, the cost of purchasing and changing over to surge valve irrigation would be cost effective because it reduces overall water usage and will help to reduce production costs.

The key to success of surge-valve technology are the alternating pulses of water to different parts of a field to provide more even and efficient distribution, according to Dr. Juan Enciso, the Texas A&M AgriLife Research irrigation engineer at Weslaco.

The Surge Valve Cooperative, an initiative of the Rio Grande Regional Water Authority, which is funded by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, is accepting applications from up to 32 growers interested in surge valves at a discounted special grant price, according to Ashley Gregory, an AgriLife Extension assistant for water programs.

Maximum of 2 valves

“Thanks to the grant obtained by the Water Authority, the $2,000 surge valves are available to 32 participating growers at a cost of $350,” says Gregory. “They can buy up to two valves, which allow them to irrigate about 50 acres per valve.”

Participating growers must still attend training on their use on either Sept. 17 or Sept. 18.

“This is a good water conservation tool for growers who furrow irrigate with poly pipe,” Anciso said. “It can not only save water, it can also increase productivity.”

Demonstration projects conducted by the Texas Ag Water Efficiency Project documented water savings of up to 52 percent in sugarcane, 31 percent in corn and 28 percent in cotton.

There is no charge for the demonstration event, which is scheduled for 10 a.m.-noon Friday, Sept. 13, at the Hiler Research Farm in Weslaco. Take exit Mile 2 West, go north about 1 ½ miles, Hiller Farm will be on the West side of street just before you hit Mile 7 ½ N. For more information, contact Anciso or Gregory at 956-968-5581.

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Other articles of interest on Southwest Farm Press:

Will fed take over groundwater regulations?

Drought conditions persist across Texas

Dramatic water changes coming for the Southwest