U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version

March 1985




Low-pressure sprinkler irrigation systems have the potential to save energy, but also may aggravate soil- and water-management problems. The objective of this research was to determine the influence of center-pivot sprinkler irrigation method in combination with various tillage practices on corn (Zea mays L.) yield and yield components. A center-pivot irrigation machine was designed to apply water by high-pressure-impact (HPI), low-pressure-impact (LPI), and low-pressure-spray (LPS) nozzles. Nozzles were sized and spaced to apply three different amounts of water: 100% (full irrigation), 75 and 50%. Three tillage treatments were used-till-plant (T), disk (D), and till-plant with chisel after last cultivation (C)-for each method and amount of water applied. The field study was conducted over a 4-year period (1978 to 1981) on a Sharpsburg silty clay loam (fine, montmorillonitic, mesic Typic Argiudolls). Yields were influenced by the seasonal distribution and amount of precipitation, irrigation water applied, tillage, and the combined management inputs. The method of water application (HPI, LPI, and LPS nozzles) did not significantly (P > 0.10) influence grain yield. In 1979, the chisel tillage treatment produced significantly less grain than other treatments because severe root pruning limited stored water uptake during an extremely stressful period immediately following the chisel operation. No inherent differences in productivity were associated with low-pressure center-pivot-sprinkler irrigation, or with various conservation-tillage practices used in combination with reduced-pressure-sprinkler irrigation. Therefore, use of these practices can reduce production costs without reducing yield.