While widely used in most of the United States, California has been slow to adopt overhead irrigation (center pivot irrigation) – but that might be changing.
For the past five years, researchers at the University of California West Side Research and Extension Center have been studying overhead irrigation with wheat, corn, cotton, tomato, onion and broccoli, comparing the results to those produced under furrow and drip irrigation.
According to an article published in the current issue of California Agriculture Journal, overhead irrigation led to equal or increased yields with all but tomato crops, leading researchers to conclude that overhead irrigation is an option that should be considered.
“Overall, we are very encouraged by these results, and they reflect the experiences that many California farmers have recently been having with overhead irrigation systems,” researcher Jeff Mitchell said in an article in the Western Farm Press. “We’ve confirmed that overhead irrigation systems work in California. We also concluded that there are opportunities to get even better results with more research and experience, particularly when overhead irrigation is coupled with practices that preserve crop residues and rely on reduced tillage.”