For more than a decade brothers Dennis and Joe Shryock have ran center pivot irrigation units on their corn and soybean operation near Columbia, Mo. Their sons, Brett and Mike, liked the way irrigation eliminated drought risk and maximized yield potential in the face of skyrocketing input costs, and they went shopping for additional units.
The cousins ended up not only buying a couple of additional center pivots but also establishing Grand Prairie Irrigation to sell T-L Irrigation equipment.
"We liked their machines, and in talking to farmers in our area we found out there was a lot of interest in irrigation," Mike says. "Interest about irrigation in central and north-central Missouri has actually exceeded what we expected."
Shryock cites "drought insurance," yield maximization and the potential for over-the-top fertilizer and chemical application as multiple forces fueling an increase in irrigation in central Missouri.
"Irrigation is worth an additional 50 bu. of corn per acre for us," he says. "Irrigated beans gain us 20 to 30 extra bushels per acre [compared with nonirrigated]. If we get behind or can't get in the fields with tractors, we can still sidedress nitrogen over the top with the center pivots. We've also applied fungicides to corn with the pivots. We're able to give the crops what they need when they need it and save passes with a tractor."
Missouri isn't the only state where interest in irrigation has increased.
"We've got a lot of sandy soils that don't hold water," says Jerry Runnels, with Roberts Irrigation in Plover, Wis. "In the past few years, it's been dry up here. Non-irrigated corn yielded as low as 25 bu. per acre, but irrigated corn yielded 150 bu. to 200 bu. per acre. Dairy farmers who had to buy expensive corn last year to feed their cows really saw the value in irrigation.
"Even though crop prices are lower this year," Runnels says, "a lot of guys are taking a long look at what irrigation has to offer."
Calling All Irrigation Story Ideas
In future issues, Farm Journal will be covering stories from the irrigation front. If you have topic ideas or photos, please send them to: Margy Fischer; P.O. Box 958; Mexico, MO; 65265. firstname.lastname@example.org