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IANR News Service: News and Publishing, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, P.O. Box 830918, Lincoln, NE 68583-0918. http://ianrnews.unl.edu/static/0903180.shtml
Keeping up on gravity irrigation repairs not only saves water, but time, money and labor, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln irrigation engineer said.
The off-season is the perfect time to make these repairs, said Dean Yonts, irrigation engineer at UNL's Panhandle Research and Extension Center at Scottsbluff.
"If you didn't flag leaky gaskets and mark leaky gates last irrigation season, be sure to do it this season," he said. "This way if you don't have time to change damaged gates during irrigation season, gaskets can be discarded at the end of the season and gates can be replaced after harvest."
Replacing gaskets and leaky gates can be a significant way to reduce irrigation costs.
This and other cost saving tips to help deal with high input costs in crop production can be found at UNL's Surviving High Input Costs in Crop Production" (http://cropwatch.unl.edu/survivinghighinputcosts.htm) Web page.
A flow meter also is a good way to estimate the amount of water that leaks from gates and gaskets, Yonts said.
"While leaks are not losses from the field, they do reduce the amount of water delivered to the set being irrigated," he said.
A Tri-Basin Natural Resource District study in the early 1990s showed that losses can exceed 50 percent.
Often, losses can be 20 percent to 30 percent, which is 5 to 6 gallons per minute per 30-foot length of pipe on most systems, Yonts said. A quarter mile length of pipe on a 1,000 gallon per minute well would deliver only 750 gallons per minute to the set if the water loss is 25 percent.
"Reducing leaks also saves labor by having to have fewer sets per irrigation," Yonts said.