Date of this Version



University of Nebraska College of Agriculture and Home Economics Extension Service and U.S . Department of Agriculture Cooperating


Proper irrigation practices usually reduce irrigation costs and result in higher crop yields. These practices involve:

1. Applying the right amount of water.

2. Obtaining uniform water application over the field.

3. Applying water at the proper time.

This publication will serve as a general guide for the first two practices.

How Much Water To Apply

Applying proper amounts of water provides the best opportunity for high crop quality and yields.

The amount of water to apply at each irrigation depends on the amount of soil water used by the plants between irrigations, the water-holding capacity of the soil, and the depth of crop rooting.

In general, apply water when about one-half or less of the total available water in the root zone has been used by the crop. One of the most common irrigation practice failings is to apply too much water too late, especially at the first irrigation.

Apply nearly enough water to replace the moisture extracted by the active roots and no more. Applying too much (1) raises the water table; (2) leaches plant nutrients, especially nitrogen; (3) wastes water and (4) increases costs.