Richard Dobbins, left, and Kevyn Van Wert evaluate soil moisture levels on Dobbins’ Albion, Mich., farm with Missy Bauer Farm Journal Associate Field Agronomist.
Like gasoline in a car, water fuels the growth of Richard Dobbins' corn and soybean crops each July and August.
"We often get a 50- to 60-bushel yield response from just 5 inches of water applied during that timeframe," says Dobbins, who owns North Concord Farms near Albion, Mich.
Dobbins' 2,800 acres of crops are planted on light soils and hilly terrain, and roughly 1,000 acres are irrigated.
Dobbins has worked with Associate Field Agronomist, Missy Bauer, to evaluate and improve the uniformity of his irrigation applications.
Last year, Bauer placed calibration cups about every 10 feet along Dobbins’ center pivot and then measured the volume of water collected in each. She says other farmers can use this simple technique to determine the consistency of their water applications.
"When you measure the volume of water in the cups, it should be consistent from one end of the center pivot to the other," Bauer explains. "When you find a cup with an inconsistent amount of water, you need to make a correction."
Dobbins provides more insight about his south central Michigan farm and its moisture needs in the following video.