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Gustav Zhuravlev
Gustav Zhuravlev

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Everybody a couple minutes to get signed in here. You're in the waiting room. We're going through, we're getting ready to talk about irrigation. So this is the irrigation webinar series we're in the, I think it's the fifth one of six that we laid out. The first and third Wednesday of each month. So far, it looks like it's all speakers. We have at least one attendee so far. That's Eric. He has to come to everything we know. There's there's a couple others in our Ronnie. Ronnie, I apologize for butchering names. there's a couple. Okay. So we put together this irrigation series, hoping back when it looked like we may not be able to do as much stuff in-person. And we were hoping to just cover some of the basics for producers. So each week we've talked a little bit about irrigation management, sort of how much rain we had, what we would think that would be for producers as far as to needing to use irrigation system. We've paired that up with a speaker from the industry today, we're having Dennis Pennington, MSU's Wheat Specialist talk about options in irrigated wheat. But we've had people from the fruit and vegetable, areas and field crops people talking to. We've talked a little bit about management things each week. We're going to talk a little bit about economics. I'm gonna come on a second time and talk a little bit about economics. And then I think Dr. Younsuk Dong our new irrigation specialist at MSU Biosystems Ag Engineering. He's going to be talking to us about irrigation scheduling at the end of the year. So those last, how, is it worth watering it one more time? Those kind of questions. So looks like we're right at 12 o'clock. Let's get started. This is brought to you by Michigan State University. We are an equal opportunity employer and an equal opportunity educator. That statement's on our, there on our opening slide. These slides sets from all of the presentations are available to view the recordings at the Ag Engineering website listed on the first slide there. So if you look at last week, if you were average or above, you got an inch of water or more. And most of our crops were using about that inch or so. Depending on where you are at, whether you are lucky or unlucky, you may have ample water and that would be most of the state most of the irrigation region has enough water. But a few spots, if you were unlucky, you were in those dark blue spots. You didn't get the rainfall that you needed about an inch of water this last week. So that's sort of typical for that last week of August, we tend to get more rain falls in our crops and our crops are starting to use less water. So the need for irrigation goes down. And fewer and fewer of our systems are being used. Just a quick calculation to show you where we got those numbers here we're using the National Weather Service's weekly reference ET reference evapotranspiration numbers. That's for six inch grass, that's what that hose and grass is there for is to remind me to say that that's a number for six inch brass and that's available at this federal site or you can get it off the MAWN stations for Michigan has a like number. If we're going to convert that number to actual crop water use for corn, we're on the downside. We used to be using a 120% of that grass number. And now we're down to about one. And many of our fields are going to be approaching 80 percent or eight tenths of that reference ET number. So we're actually using less than grass in our crops. And we see that here, St. Joe county, number of fields have already been defoliated and harvest of seed corn is going on. And even our commercial crops or corn is showing some firing and, and is naturally senescence. So we're using less moisture as the the days go on and that will continue until we get to black layer. And Younsuk's going to tell us more about the importance of black layer in irrigation management for corn. Soybeans. Little bit the same story, but soybeans have their uses later in the season. So there's still stay in a little bit higher, a little more chance that people are going to still be watering soybeans this time of year, especially if they were long season beans, or planted towards the last May. Few of our early season beans planted in April and first week in May and short season beans planted there in May are starting to yellow and we're going to see reduced amounts of water and we're going to talk about that also when Younsuk gets on. And so that's what we have today for an opener. Next up is Dr. Younsuk Dong from Michigan State University Biosystems and Ag Engineering. Thank you Lyndon. And let me share my screen. Okay, So yeah. So you start with the where, where you can where you can see the all the recorded webinars. So we share the link where you can find previous videos, previous talks about this webinar series but once you get, to this irrigation website, there's the menu there is irrigation webinar series. And also in the quick link there is irrigation webinar series. You can click either one. It will direct you to the irrigation webinar's page. And this is where you can see all the previous talks from this webinar series. So just some information for you. So around the early September, we get a question about when should I stop irrigating. So this presentation will discuss about your timing of their last irrigation. So reader and speed, there's not a lot of irrigation needed in the fall because the water use by crop drops significantly in late stages. On the bottom graph shows the crop coefficient changes for soybean. Crop coefficient is the multiplier value that how much crop used the water compared to your four-inch grass cover surface days? Well water and unshaded. So for soybeans. So after our seventh stage, our seventh stage is the pod begins to mature. The crop coefficient decreased significantly. So this means the crop don't need a lot of water. In Michigan where we have a greater chance rainfall from last week of August and September. So, so, you know, we don't really consider there is lot of irrigation happening in the fall. And although many studies shows there is no great advantage to having the soil moisture level greater than 50 percent water So in the, especially in the late season. So that's why we really don't a see lot of people irrigating the fall. But what about we, we, if we stop irrigating too early in the season? Because some producers maybe want to save the water, or reduce pumping costs, but but this could result in much greater reduction in the yield, which is less return, right? So consider to water until the crop is mature, which I'm going to talk about next couple slides. But so so if we stop irrigating too soon, which cause the lack of water in the late season. This can result in low test weight for corn, undersized soybeans in uppermost pods for soybean. And it can decrease the grain quality and yield for wheat. And the typical cost for irrigation for half-inch application is around $2 per acre. So it's worth it to apply irrigation in the late season to minimize the risk of losing the quality and the yield of the crop. So when do we stop irrigating? So the timing is very important because irrigation beyond the crops water needs, which means we're just wasting time, energy, and money. So, so the timing is very important. For corn. From early dent stage two black layer stage. The weekly water use is decreased from one inch to half inch. So there is definitely less water need for the corn in the late season. So we like to see the soil or water maintained at least 50 percent at dent stage. And, and the others studies shows that there is no benefit from additional irrigation. When the corn is at black layer stages. So you can stop irrigating when the corn is at the black layer. For soybean from full seed stage to mature pod stage, the weekly water use is decreased from 1 inch to .4 inch. So. Again, there's less water needs for soybean in the late season. So we'd like to see maintaining the soil moisture above 50 percent until the field is 50 percent yellow. So this is somewhat tricky, but go out to the field and take a look at it, see what, what's what's the percentage of your soybean are green or yellow? When you see the pod with the mature color color at one of them are mature, then that's the time that you can stop irrigation. So we're going to talk about wheat later. I'm not sure. I think maybe. But for wheat, we like to keep water soil moisture level at least 40 to 50 percent at soft dough stage, then you can stop irrigation. The one study from, I doubt, shows that there was no benefit having extra water after soft dough. So that's the timing for wheat. So okay. So we went over the timing. What about the the water-holding capacity? So, how do we check the soil water holding capacity? The one old method is taking soil sample using auger or a shovel from 12 inches below the surface in the root joint. Then squeeze a soil sample in your hands several times to form a shape as a ball. I mean, the photo here, it shows how you can do by building an appearance to determine what the moisture level of your soil. And once you form that you can carefully balance the ball and compare it. Compare with the photo with this chart from this USDA guidelines. But this is one method that can help you estimate what is available water capacity from your field. This, I jwant to mention, you can you can search for USDA NRCS estimating soil moisture by feel and appearance. But or you can just go to MSU BAE irrigation website. And under the quick link section, I put a link directly where you can download this file. It's just for for your information. Another method to, to check what's the available water at your field now is using MSU irrigation scheduling program. This scheduler program can help you estimate, you know, what's the available water percentage each day. So so what you need to do, you have to input your some of your further information such as Nick, sorry, tie the crop time, the length of growing season, and emergence date. And you can pick the closest in by weather station to the feel. What it does is it can, this program can automatically download the evapotranspiration data and the precipitation, precipitation data from, from the state weather station. So that's really helpful. And why you need to do you can you obtain when you apply, how much, what you apply to this, apply the irrigation to this field. So in the calculation tab or here you can put irrigation information when and how much you applied to the fill. You can also correct the rain per amount if necessary. So in soil which has tab in this scheduler program, there is a graph that shows status of available water in the root zone. Or this is actually a scheduler that we ran, we've been running this year for one of a corn field in Constantine, Michigan. The corn right now at this field, is at the fully dent stage and showing a milk line about halfway down with this. So this means about, there's about a couple of weeks to, until it reaches the black layer stage. So but having this information is really helpful. So, and, and this graph shows right now it's about what, 63 percent, 65 percent of the water. So he's in pretty good shape. But but we can continue monitor next couple of days weather and make sure he maintain above 50%. The last, another method, I guess one of the other method is using the soil moisture sensors so you can install the sensor at your field to measure how much moisture in your soil right. There's some portable soil moisture monitor units out there, you can purchase and use it. Which basically you take the probe and go to the field and you stick it in soil, and it will give you what the percentage of moisture level of your soil. We have an Extension bulletin there that describes how to use the soil moisture sensor data to determine what the moisture level and, and also irrigation amount that you could apply to the field. So just check on the Extension bulletin. It has more detail information. With that. If you have any question regarding irrigation, please contact me or Lyndon Kelley, we'll be happy to take any questions regarding irrigation. So with that, I think next speaker is Lyndon Kelley will talk about the timing and designing your project for minimized cost. And I bet I got to flip the screen again and right. Yeah, I think so Lyndon. There you go. Oop, who you still got it? Okay. Let's try. Nope. What do you got now? It's duplicated so you want to put it in presentation mode. Yup. There we go. Okay. So I said we'd talk a few minutes real quick about exploring irrigation investments. My goal today is more about thinking about a system for looking at how to put together whether this irrigation investment is going to be able to pay off on your farm. So this information is available at the MSU Ag Engineering website or the MSU irrigation website that Extension has up there's sections in there about cost of irrigation and analyzers and other tools to help put together. But basically most people deal with what we call the back of the envelope. They sit down and they say, well, I my total investment is going to be for this hundred acre center center pivot field is going to be a $160 thousand. And they divide that by a 100 acres that it's going to cover. And they say, Well, that's so at $16 thousand an acre. And I expect that to have a 10 year life span. And they'll say so I need a $160 an acre. And that's, that's better than doing no figuring at all. But that kind of back of the envelope figuring leaves a lot of things out. A lot of the extra expenses that are in there that tend to sneak up on you, and make your investments not as profitable as you thought they would. If you had a drip irrigation, the same type of scenario and I'll give you an example later on. If you had a less, a little less than a half an acre, 2100 feet. And they do the math on that. And it looks like I got at least one math error there. You end up having about $1100 an acre, almost $1200. in that irrigation investment. But it doesn't tell you anything about the energy and the labor, the repairs, those types of things that are there. That little orange thing at the bottom it tells me that I needed to say something about the timeliness of this. Irrigation equipment has its lowest price. There's a cycle in irrigation equipment, especially bigger center pivot equipment, but all of it has a low point in the year and a high point in the year. And the high point in the year is when it's almost too late to get it up in time to use it. That would be in the spring and the low point in the year is right now, the last half of August and September is when traditionally irrigation companies have had program's that rebate portions of the money or discounts or freebies, free computer systems, free shipping, any, any of those types of things that bring the cost down. Those incentive programs tend to disappear by the first of the year. And then any price increases usually come on January first. I because most of my area is center pivot irrigated, I tend to keep track of that. And we've already had one price increase due to the price of steel is what they're telling us. Once this year, the incentive programs were pretty small, few and far between. And we expect another set of increases, coming January 1. So it will be more costly. That means most of my figures are going to be too low. But it also stresses the importance of getting right into your irrigation investments now early in the fall and get them planned to figure out what it's going to actually cost and whether you're going to pull the trigger on those things and move forward. So Ag engineer or I'm sorry, ag economists over the years have had a system that we've used called the DIRTI system. And that's DIRTI stands for depreciation, interests, repairs, taxes, and insurance. These are the things that are looked at as an investment. As far as that investment, what is the actual ownership cost of that, owning that piece of equipment? Whether you use it or not, we don't have any of the annual costs in there at this point. But when we're looking at that is what's that actually cost to use those. We have these sheets up on the website, for six or seven of the most common irrigation types of systems. But each of them has an average cost for the actual piece of equipment minus any salvage value. Depreciated over the, or spread over the years that we think the life will be. Here we use 10, ten years for center pivot equipment and 20 years for wells. And then we added in the interest over that time period and the average repair costs, taxes. Now, in Michigan, we don't have a personal property tax on that equipment. In Indiana, there's actually a personal property tax. But any tax implications, and then insurance, don't forget the insurance. So we tend to have a lot of storms and the insurance is important, really important, somebody carries the insurance. Then we do the same thing for the operating costs. These are the things that if you use the system in that year, you're going to incur these costs. And the major operating costs are going to be the energy cost. Here we're using the state average 350 an acre inch of water. And the labor cost in here being a center pivot irrigation, It's only, they're only asking for a dollar, an acre for labor costs because of the high equipment investment that takes care of, cuts out a lot of that labor out. When we get all done, we find out that we got about a $123 an acre in running that system this year. If we put seven inches on and that's kind of a number that you can use to try to make a decision based on that. We did that same scenario over and over again for each of these types of systems, 160 acre system, 160 acre machine with a cornering arm on it. A soft hose traveler, a 40 acre machine that's towable, doing two circles, 160 acres of drag pods. These are the like the K line pods that we see at KBS and some of the other MSU facilities. A single tower towable, that's those are very popular in the dairy industry. They're a single tower pivot that can be towed in five different locations, hard hose travelers, an 80 acre center pivot, which is actually a 160 acre center pivot only doing half of a circle. And then a 40 acre system. If you look at all of those, there's a lot of scale in irrigation economics. The bigger ones they're going to be the lower total cost for the equipment and the operation than the smaller ones. And there's almost a doubling in price. There is a doubling in price from going to that from that low cost 160 acre pivot to the 40 acres center pivot, the smallest one that's on there. So there's a lot of, a lot of that's economics. But the important thing is that you do your homework to know what your actual costs are going to be. One of the major differences in that number that we talked about for operating costs would be the actual type of energy that you're using or fuel that you're using. There's, this can be a very simple thing. Electricity is the cheapest source. But then you may not be able to get electricity or three-phase power in your area. And so it may not be the best source for you, but we'd have to, we tend to use electricity at about 10 point, just about $0.11 a kilowatt hour. So we'd have to be able to buy diesel fuel for half of that number that's up there, that 2.62 would have to be a $1.30 to buy diesel fuel at the same prices are electric. So and then if you add to that, the equipment costs and the annual maintenance and repair is highest on diesel and lowest on electricity. So electricity by far is the winner. So most of the time when I'm talking about energy sources with producers, it's more about how much can we subsidize the expansion of three-phase power into your community so you can get electricity. And we'll figure out how much you can pay per pole or for the investment. And it's surpri


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