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Drought researchers push new technology

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November 20, 2007

Terrell County -- As the long term effects of the Drought in the Southeast continue, agriculture researchers are looking for ways to help farmers get the most out of every drop of water.

 An old trick from dry land farmers in the West could save water for Southern growers.

USDA Research Scientists and Water Conservation officials say experiments on planting methods in these fields could help growers efficiency if the drought continues.

Dr. Russell Nuti's study of furrow diking, plowing dikes into the planting rows for crops with new technology, can improve irrigation and rainfall storage rates up to 38 percent. Dr. Russell Nuti said "we know for certain any surface supplied water, it's more efficient for catching it."

For the last three years National Peanut Lab Researchers have experimented with furrow diking on thousands of acres on South Georgia farms, and the water capture figures were significant.

The Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission helped in the research, and supports their findings. Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission Deputy Executive Director David Eigenberg said "it's another tool in the toolbox of the farmer, to be able to use this with any type of system to conserve that water, that everyone is so concerned about."

Researchers are excited that they kept the yields in cotton, corn, and peanut crops the same or better while using less water, and also managing erosion during rain. Now scientists are getting these research figures out to farmers, and encouraging them to adopt the new technology.  

Research Leader Marshall Lamb said "our science is not any good if all we do is publish it and put it on the shelf. We have to get it into the field."

With the price of fuel skyrocketing, running irrigation pumps will probably cost more next year. If the drought persists, researchers say having to irrigate fewer times could be a crop saver.

Furrow diking is a plowing method used for many years in the Southwest dry lands, now being endorsed by U.S.D.A. Researchers in the South.

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