With high commodity prices and two years of summer drought, producers have seen potential profits evaporate in the summer heat. Consequently, many are re-thinking irrigation in the Carolinas. In parts of the state, there’s something of a well digging and center-pivot irrigation system boom, but David Heath of Bountiful Blessings Farm, in Craven Co. NC is resurrecting some old irrigation equipment to give it a try this year:
“We probably haven’t irrigated on our farm since ’97, just after the drought last year and everything, we’re tying to maximize every acre, so we’re going to experiment with some irrigation again, and just pull out some of our old equipment and see how it goes, and try to run the economics of it and everything before we go out and invest in a lot of new equipment.
We’re soaking a lot of chains, and using a lot of penetration oil right now trying to get everything back going, but, I think that’s going to be the name of the game right now.”
For now, Heath will be utilizing farm ponds as a water source:
“We got about 12 farm ponds on our main farm, so we’re going to utilize them and see how much water and how much irrigation we can get out of each one of those, and just kind of look at planning again for next winter already, see where we’re going to focus our resources, if this is something that we want to do more long term how to best use our resources, and maybe some day put in some drip irrigation or put in some center pivots.”
This year Heath is going to start small:
“Realistically, a hundred with the reel that I’ve got, but if I purchase anything else, I’m going to try to do at least 200, just to see how it works so I can get a better scale of the economics.”
As for crops Heath is going to choose to irrigate this year…:
“But the main row crop is going to be cotton, and I’m going to be irrigating some edamame, the edible soybean, I’m going to have about two acres of them this year. I’m going to have to focus on them this year more than I am on the cotton. but, when we’re not pumping on the edamame, we’re going to try and pump on some cotton and see how it goes.”
David Heath, Bountiful Blessings Farm in Craven County, North Carolina.