Optimizing overhead irrigation practices will ensure that water loss is minimized, and each unit of water is used most effectively by the crop. In order to optimize overhead irrigation setup, a study was conducted over two years in Mississippi to quantify the optimal overhead irrigation duration and intensity for six soil types commonly found in row-crop production regions in the state. Each soil type was transferred to containers and measured for total water infiltration and water infiltration over time using a two-nozzle rainfall simulator in a track sprayer. The rainfall simulator was calibrated to apply 2.1 mm of water per minute. The rainfall simulator ran on a 2.4 m track for 90 s, with 3.2 mm total water applied during that time. After the 90 s overhead irrigation event, each container was undisturbed for 150 s and assessed for irrigation penetration through the soil profile. Commercially available irrigation nozzles were measured for droplet size spectrum. Results showed that across soil type, organic matter was the primary factor affecting water infiltration through the profile, followed by soil texture. Irrigation nozzle volumetric median droplet sizes ranged from 327 µm to 904 µm. The results will improve overhead irrigation setup in Mississippi, improving irrigation water use efficiency and reducing losses from soil erosion over the application of water and reduced crop yield.
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