Agriculture/Irrigation Information

With more than 90 percent of water used for agriculture/irrigation in the San Juan/Dolores River Basin, the following provides useful information and resources kindly supplied, in part, with permission from the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservation District:

Ditch and Reservoir Company Alliance (DARCA)

DARCA is a membership organization for the benefit of all types of irrigation enterprises - ditch companies, reservoir companies, laterals, private ditches, and irrigation districts.  Membership is also open to interested individuals, professionals and government/corporate organizations. The DARCA mission is "to become the definitive resource for networking, education and advocacy" for our members.

Family Farm Alliance

The Family Farm Alliance is a powerful advocate for family farmers, ranchers, irrigation districts, and allied industries in seventeen Western states. The Alliance is focused on one mission - To ensure the availability of reliable, affordable irrigation water supplies to Western farmers and ranchers. The Family Farm Alliance is recognized as an authority on critical issues dealing with Western water policy.

Colorado State University Cooperative Extension

Provides technical information, publications and training in best management practices, irrigation, salinity, and water quality. State and regional water quality specialists provide unbiased, research-based information to address a variety of water issues in Colorado. Also, visit their extremely useful menu website link.

The Water Center

The Colorado Water Center brings together a rich history in water related education and research with diverse talent from 25 different departments at Colorado StateUniversity to form a group of educators and researchers interested in water resources.

Ag Water Conservation Clearinghouse

The Colorado Water Resources Reseearch Institute and the Northern Plains and Mountains Regional Water Program are currently developing an online regional and national clearinghouse of information, concerning agricultural water conservation, which highlights state of the art research and technology by international experts facing similar water constraints. The  Clearinghouse will ultimately provide current, science-based information on a wide variety of agricultural water conservation issues.

Two to four page articles on water resources related to Crops, Food and Nutrition, and Gardening.

Available resources provided by Cooperative Extension as well as related links to help the Colorado citizen deal with the current drought.

Sustainable Agriculture in Colorado

Created to find solutions to the growing challenges that face our Colorado farms and ranches. Programs such as water quality, value-added, and niche marketing are helping Colorado improve the local economy, communities, and their livelihoods.

There are vast potential savings opportunities from water conservation measures in ditches and canals servicing the world's food and livestock production. SmartDitch™ liners can increase water distribution in gravity-fed irrigation systems by as much as 90 percent - and at substantially lower costs than with alternative methods such as concrete or pipe.

Limited Irrigation Management

Full irrigation is the amount needed to achieve maximum yield; however, when irrigation water is insufficient to meet crop demand, limited irrigation management strategies should be considered. These strategies manage the limited water to achieve the highest possible economic return. Restrictions on water supply are the primary reasons for using limited irrigation management. These restrictions may come in the form of mandated water allocations, from both ground water and surface water supplies, low yielding wells, or drought conditions which decrease available surface water supplies.

The key management choices for dealing with insufficient irrigation supplies are to: 1) reduce irrigated acreage; 2) reduce amount of irrigation water applied to all acres; 3) substitute low-water requirement crops for high-water requirement crops; 4) delay irrigation until a critical water stage; and 5) manage soil moisture to capture precipitation.

Weather Station
Photo courtesy Dr. Mike Bartolo, PhD

Crop Residue and Irrigation Water Management

Crop residue cover and tillage practices play important roles in the way that crops use water, and also affect the ability of irrigation systems to replace that water. The effects of these practices and other influencing factors are discussed in this NebGuide. Tillage practices and crop residue management play an important role in the way that irrigation systems perform and are managed. Tillage practices affect the way that water moves into and off of the soil (infiltration and runoff). Tillage practices also affect the way that water moves from the soil into the atmosphere (evapotranspiration).

Selecting and Using Irrigation Propeller Meters

This NebGuide discusses the use of propeller type irrigation meters to monitor irrigation water use. Measuring irrigation water is important in efficient water management. Measuring water can be used for the following purposes: Checking irrigation efficiency, determining pumping plant efficiency, and detecting well and pump problems.

Irrigation Canal
Photo courtesy Dr. Mike Bartolo, PhD

Propeller Meters for Irrigation

    • Accurate measurement of water helps producers increase irrigation efficiencies, and reduce both energy and costs. Flow measurement facilitates water management. This can be done with the use of a flow measuring device. Propeller meters can provide accurate measurement of flow rate and volume if properly selected, installed and maintained.

Irrigation Scheduling: The Water Balance Approach

    • Irrigation scheduling by the water-balance approach is analogous to running a checkbook balance. Advertised evapotranspiration rates can be used to run water balance and schedule irrigation. Ready-to-use computer programs facilitate the use of the water-balance approach in irrigation scheduling. Soil water-content measurements are needed as a safety check on the predicted water content and irrigation timing.


Seasonal Water Needs and Opportunities for Limited Irrigation for Colorado Crops

    • Knowing seasonal crop water requirements is crucial for planning your crop mixture.
    • Net crop requirements are estimated using models, based on weather variables.
    • To water for the greatest return, producers need to understand how crops respond to water, how crop rotation enhances water availability, and how changes in agronomic practices effects water needs.

Colorado High Plains Irrigation Practices Guide

Provides a summary of the documented water savings options for irrigators in Colorado. It provides details regarding what options are available from water conservation, how these options are used to conserve water and expected water savings that can be achieved.

Plasticulture – Home Grown and High Tech

Plasticulture consists of Drip Irrigation and Plastic Mulch, explanation how plasticultures are helping farmers create an even better vegetable crop.

McCrometer’s Propeller meters

McCrometer has set the standard for propeller flowmeter technology in the agricultural and turf markets since 1955. Its uniquely-designed Mc Propeller line offers an economical and versatile flow measurement solution for a wide range of water applications, and is especially suited to dirty water flows.

Furrow Crop Irrigation

Netafim Drip Irrigation Products

Netafim offers a full range of products to satisfy all your drip/micro irrigation needs – including dripperlines, sprinklers, filters, valves, crop management technologies and other vital system support - such as technical education and agronomic expertise.

Diversity D Inc. – Specializing in Drip Irrigation

Diversity D offers consultation, design & installation for new systems. In addition, they offer service for existing systems.