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Investigating A Multiple Inlet Approach To Reduce Water Requirements For Rice Production

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  032014,  2003 ASAE Annual Meeting . (doi: 10.13031/2013.13990) @2003
Authors:   Earl D. Vories, Phil L. Tacker
Keywords:   Rice, irrigation, water use efficiency, crop management, water management

Rice production in Arkansas accounts for 7% of the total cash receipts from all agricultural commodities. Traditional flooded rice production consists of a well or riser in the highest-elevation portion of the field. Water released from the well or riser flows over spills into lower paddies as the upper paddies are filled. An alternative method is known as multiple-inlet irrigation. Rather than discharging directly into the highest paddy, a pipe is connected and gates or holes are placed in each paddy, so that each paddy is watered together instead of receiving overflow from a higher paddy. The objective of this research was to investigate whether a multiple-inlet approach would result in less water being pumped for rice production than conventional flooding, when applied on production-scale fields by the regular farm employees.

On-farm water use studies were conducted during the 1999 through 2002 growing seasons. The studies consisted of 15 paired fields located close together, with the same cultivar, soil type, planting date and management practices. One field was randomly assigned as a conventionally flooded field and the other was assigned as multiple-inlet rice irrigation. Flowmeters were installed in the inlets to both fields and the farmers provided yield data. The multiple-inlet system required 26% less irrigation water than conventional flooding; while a 3% yield increase and a 38% increase in irrigation water use efficiency were associated with the multiple-inlet system compared to conventional flooding. The project is continuing and is expected to provide conclusive data on the potential benefits of a multiple-inlet rice irrigation system over conventional flooding.

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