Crop irrigation and the need to manage a high water table and salinity go hand in hand


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Jim Valliant):

When the early agricultural producers developed the Arkansas River for irrigation, they began to battle the salt problems in the basin by digging miles of drainage ditches and also installing miles of sub-surface tile drainage systems. This battle continues today.

Salts and waterlogging, due to high water tables, are causing crop yield losses of 10 to 90 percent on irrigated farmland throughout the Arkansas River basin according to studies by Tim Gates and Luis Garcia, Colorado State University civil engineers.

Farmers have to use every source of skills that they have to battle this intruder.

So farmers have to be amateur agronomists, chemists, engineers, entomologists, financial planners, marketers and soil scientists.

The good news is that farmers are winning this battle through improved technology. New seed development, improved cultural methods and irrigation technology are leading the attack on this age-old enemy. Alfalfa is averaging around 5 tons per acre with many fields exceeding that yield. Corn yields have broken the 200 bushel per acre barrier. Wheat yields are in the 100 bushel per acre range and many vegetable yields have doubled because of new technology such as sub-surface drip irrigation, plastic mulch and new varieties.

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.

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