Irrigation is an important part of sustainable farming in many regions of the United States.

Soy checkoff farmer-leader Annie Dee, who farms near Aliceville, Ala., for example, uses precision-agriculture technology to significantly increase crop yields, while making her use of irrigation as timely and efficient as possible and decreasing her farm’s overall impact on the environment.

“The use of irrigation has helped our farm become more sustainable by ensuring adequate amounts of water are applied to crops when necessary,” says Dee, who’s Alabama operation extends into parts of Mississippi.

“With proper timing of irrigation, our soybean yields have increased by 20 to 30 percent, and our corn yields have more than doubled, even in drought conditions.”

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Besides using computerized pumping stations for irrigation help, Dee also uses precision technology during planting, harvesting, spraying and operating irrigation pivots and pumps.

This has helped save on fuel, seed, fertilizer and other inputs, reduce equipment hours, and relieve operator stress.

For its innovations in sustainability, Dee’s operation received Alabama’s 2013 Farm of Distinction award.

Dee says her extensive use of cover crops, no-till and other sustainable farm-management practices has reduced soil erosion, improved water quality and increased water-holding capacity in soil, making nutrients more readily available.

“As input costs skyrocket, sustainable practices will help farmers’ profitability,” says Dee. “Using these practices will have a positive environmental impact and will benefit all of us now and into the future.”

(For additional insight into Annie Dee’s farming operation, see Alabama's Dee River Ranch: state of the art irrigation technology on display, Cover crops making a difference at Alabama's Dee River Ranch, Dee River Ranch named Alabama Farm of Distinction and Annie Dee: Sunbelt Farmer of the Year for Alabama).