USDA provides online agricultural tools

The Agriculture Department has made available a Web-based energy estimator for irrigation to help producers manage their irrigation water resources more efficiently.

Farmers and rancher, who irrigate more than 55 million acres of agricultural land nationwide, can reap significant energy savings from improved irrigation management.

“Farmers and ranchers can use [it] to achieve significant energy savings by modifying their irrigation systems," Agriculture secretary Mike Johanns said in a statement.

For example, a producer can move from a high-pressure irrigation system to a low-pressure system and save up to $66 per acre based on spring 2006 prices. Improving water efficiency by just 10 percent could reduce diesel consumption by 27 million gallons and save farmers and ranchers $55 million annually.

To use the online calculator, producers enter data about their irrigation system, power source, pressure and flow. The producer receives an analysis of current water use, the reduced water use associated with various treatment options, as well as the energy costs and savings of these treatment options. The analysis also identifies potential energy savings that can result from carrying out the recommendations of a pump plant evaluation.

USDA also has implemented two other Web-based applications for producers to calculate diesel fuel use and costs associated with cultivating crops, and to estimate savings in nitrogen fertilizer applications and use.

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