“Water measurement is the first and most crucial step in any IWM plan,” Rodrigue says. “Knowing how much water a pump is supplying is critical to decision-making in irrigation timing, frequency and amount.

“Additionally, having annual pump flow data from groundwater wells can allow the irrigator to determine if there is any change in performance from things such as aquifer drawdown, worn/misadjusted impellers, or aquifer/screen plugging from iron bacteria.

 “Without a measured pump output, any irrigation efforts are haphazard and subject to higher inefficiencies, energy costs, and management techniques such as polypipe hole sizing cannot be adequately performed.”

An irrigator must decide, Rodrigue says, which of the IWM puzzle pieces to incorporate into their own plan.

“No two IWM puzzles will be exactly the same — just as no two fields are exactly the same. Irrigators must develop a feel for their IWM plan on their own farm and incorporate their own observations and experience into each IWM component applied, and adjust the IWM plan and implementation based upon their own farm and experience.”

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has various programs that may assist in developing an IWM Plan for your farm, Rodrigue says. “The first step is to always contact your local NRCS office and submit an application.”