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


Document Type


Date of this Version

November 1992


Published in:

Advances in planning, design and management of irrigation systems as related to sustainable land use: Proceedings of an international conference, edited by Jan Feyen, Emmanuel Mwendera, and Moussa Badji. Leuven, Belgium: Center for Irrigation Engineering & European Committee for Water Resources Management, 1992. Pages 357-366.


The objective of this research was to determine the influence center-pivot sprinkler irrigation methods in combination with tillage practices for corn (Zea mays L.) have on surface runoff of irrigation and rainfall. A center pivot irrigation machine was redesigned to apply water by high-pressure-impact (HPI), low-pressure-impact (LPI), and low-pressure-spray (LPS) nozzles. The center-pivot was a standard 10-tower machine, 395 meters in length and 38.4 meters tower spacing. Three tillage systems were used -- till-plant (T), disk (D), and subtill (S) which was till-plant with subsoiling between rows with straight single shanks, 360 mm deep, after last cultivation. The soil was a Sharpsburg silty clay loam (fine, montmorillonitic, mesic Typic Argiudolls). Runoff was measured from two plots representing each tillage system under the span between towers 9 and 10 for HPI, LPI, and LPS. Hand samples of water were taken at specific time intervals during runoff events for sediment and nutrient analysis. The greatest average annual sediment yield within each irrigation system was for D tillage treatment (148 kg ha-1) and smallest was for S tillage treatment (2 kg ha-1). Total nitrogen in runoff followed a pattern similar to sediment with a range from 0.86 to 0.01 kg ha-I for D and S tillage, respectively. Runoff as a percentage of irrigation water applied for irrigation systems ranked LPS > LPI > HPI. Tractor wheel trafficked rows accounted for majority of the runoff.