Agronomists test device to help drought crops - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Agronomists test device to help drought crops

April 26, 2007

Terrell County -- Because of the extreme drought conditions in South Georgia, researchers are re-testing old ideas to help farmers. Scientists from the National Peanut Lab in Dawson will field test an idea from the old west they think will help South Georgia growers produce better crops even in these dry times.

It's called the furrow diker. It has been used for years in the western desert states, but after two years of lab study, agronomist from the National Peanut Lab will have South Georgia farmers use it in their fields, with high hopes it will help their crops survive the extreme drought conditions. Agronomist Russell Nuti said "we got better net results that we expected so far."

The furrow diker has a cultivator break up the soil, and then it makes a dike every five feet in the furrow, to hold moisture better for the plants. Nuti said "we have this high area and these low areas, in which any kind of sloped areas, this is going to capture the water and slow the run off, giving better efficiency to infiltration."

In two years of testing, the agronomist have found that fields plowed with the furrow diker helps capture and disperse water better for the crop,  allowing the farmer to save 11-hundred dollars in the cost of irrigation, while producing a better yield. Research Leader Marshall Lamb said "anything we can do to help the farmer save water, not only helps the farmer, but helps our entire economy as a whole."

With the rainfall deficit growing across South Georgia, and the soil so dry that huge dust storms blow across field, the furrow diker will be tested by 8 South Georgia farmers in their fields to see if it can help. Nuti said "not only economic to the farm, but also as an environmental standpoint, we're looking at conserving soil and reducing erosion."

 The furrow diker costs about $15,00 dollars for a six row unit. Agronomists say that could be a cheap price since farmers have to pay about $11 an acre to irrigate one inch of water several days a week.

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