Check your irrigated and non-irrigated yields— Now is the time to lay the plan for future irrigation investments. If irrigated yields are lower than expected, determine the most likely reason why. To replace our typical summer time water usage by the plan, the irrigation system should be able to supply .25-inch of water per day which equates to 5 gallons per minute per acre you plan to irrigate. Non-irrigated crop yields have had tremendous increases over the last decade, but due to higher input costs it makes it harder to survive a drought year. Now is the time to gather the data to decide where future irrigation investments are needed.

Explore your cropping options — Now is the time to assemble a map of your irrigated fields and decide what to plant next year. We have more opportunity for irrigated crop options than we have had for nearly a decade. Look at what options are available for your area and make sure to factor in the huge increase in input costs.

Investigate your irrigation energy cost — Total up the energy cost for each system and divide it by the total number of acre inches applied by the system. Energy costs below $1.50 per acre inch of irrigation should be commended. Energy costs above $3.50 per acre inch of irrigation have room for improvement. If you do not have three-phase power available now is the time to investigate the cost.

Work toward acquiring the lowest cost energy source available — Selection of energy source and system operating pressure requirements are the largest variables in energy cost for irrigation systems. Specific location and proximity to energy sources often limit the option for a location, but when readily available, the economics will most often lead to the use of three- phase electricity as the energy source.

Natural gas is a second but uncommon low cost option. Propane tends to be less total expense than the most common diesel fuel used for irrigation power. Fuel/energy choice is a huge factor in irrigation expense cost and can range from $1.50 to in excess of $12 per acre inch of water supplied.

Good irrigation record keeping now can improve your irrigation future. For more irrigation information visit our website: www.msue.msu.edu/stjoseph.