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Evaluation of Center Pivot Sprinkler Wind Drift and Evaporation Loss

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

Citation:  2012 Dallas, Texas, July 29 - August 1, 2012  121336891.(doi:10.13031/2013.41716)
Authors:   B A King, R S Dungan, D L Bjorneberg
Keywords:   Sprinkler irrigation, Center pivot, Evaporation, Wind drift, Irrigation efficiency

Wind drift and evaporation losses (WDEL) that occur under sprinkler irrigation have been a research topic since the advent of sprinkler irrigation. Numerous research studies have reported WDEL values ranging from 0.7 to 45% of applied water. The wide range of sprinkler irrigation WDEL values reported in the literature has lead to misconceptions and confusion as to the amount of water lost to wind drift and evaporation among irrigation experts, irrigation industry personnel and the general public. The objective of this project was to develop and evaluate a methodology for measurement of WDEL from center pivot sprinklers using a combination of applied water collectors, bromide tracer and air samplers. The evaluation criteria were the magnitude of water volume balance error. A methodology for measuring wind drift and evaporation loss from center pivot sprinklers was developed and field tested under limited wind speed conditions. Volume balance errors ranged from 0.1 to 7.1%. The cause for the large errors on two occasions has not yet been determined. The percent of applied water aerosolized and measured as drift was found to be linearly correlated with wind speed. Overall, the limited tests show the methodology to be feasible for measuring WDEL from center pivot sprinklers. Tests in higher wind speeds are needed to validate the methodology as is determination and elimination of the cause for the high volume balance errors.

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