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Tag Archives: idaho
For one Idaho Grower, the ultimate in water use efficiency on his farm boils down to two words: drip irrigation.
McKellip, who lives and works in the Treasure Valley north of Nampa, Idaho, installed his first drip irrigation — a Toro system — on one of RMF Farms’ fields in 2011. He installed a second system the following year; then, in 2013, a third. That 2013 field was seeded into sugarbeets. Prior to those drip systems, all his fields were grown under furrow irrigation.
A drip-irrigated field of mint in 2012 yielded 133 pounds of mint per acre, compared to a nearby furrow-irrigated mint field that came off at 94 pounds. The bottom line was $585 more income per acre, along with significant savings in water and fertilizer use, combined with less labor, fuel, equipment usage and insecticide inputs. Continue reading
The first three Idaho farmers to use a drip irrigation system on mint fields reported mostly favorable results after the second season, but they did face a few problems with the new practice.
As a result, the Idaho Mint Commission is financing a three-year trial at University of Idaho’s Parma research station to further refine the practice.
Nampa farmer Robert McKellip, who last year was the first Idaho farmer to put mint on a drip system, said he used about 2 feet of water per acre on the 56-acre field this year, compared with the typical 5 acre-feet for a field that is furrow irrigated.
He said he also used a lot less fertilizer and yields were great.
“I’m really pleased with it,” said McKellip, president of the Idaho Mint Growers Association.
McKellip said the drip system proved its worth this year on water savings alone. The 2013 growing season in the Treasure Valley was marked by a tight water supply that caused several irrigation districts to shut off water a month early
If all farms in the valley switched to drip, “we’d never, ever have another drought,” he said. “I”m using less water on my mint drip system than I’d use during a drought year.” Continue reading
The benefits of drip irrigation are easy to see at Weilmunster Farms in Parma, Idaho. After adopting drip technology, the farm increased its hops yields by 400 pounds per acre, which translated into increased revenues of $800 to $1,600 per acre.
Using Fewer Resources
Beyond the increased production, Weilmunster Farms cut water use in half, reduced fertilizer use substantially, and had fewer weeds because the water was targeted to the root zone. They also eliminated sidedressing and corrugating for rill irrigation, and discovered they could irrigate prior to harvest without concern for a dry down period. They’ve even reduced theft by eliminating siphon tubes. Continue reading