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This NebGuide describes how using a furrow firming wheel improves furrow irrigation performance.
Nearly half of the irrigated acres in Nebraska are furrow irrigated. Higher pumping costs, water restrictions and water shortages are all factors encouraging efficiency-improving irrigation practices. Generally, reduced efficiency with furrow irrigation occurs in two ways: runoff or deep percolation. Although hard to eliminate, runoff can be controlled by: tailwater reuse systems; changing furrow stream size; or changing irrigation set time. Deep percolation is the loss of water below the root zone. The amount of deep percolation caused by irrigation is difficult to estimate unless irrigation application is measured or the soil moisture content monitored. Deep percolation both reduces irrigation efficiency and increases the cost of pumping. In addition, chemicals applied to the soil surface to control pests and improve production can leach below the rootzone and into the groundwater.