Difficult to see, under right brake lever the white fuzzy area is irrigation spray
On rides south of town Thursday morning, and again Saturday evening I found 2 irrigation systems operating. It has been hot and dry for several days — this following a very wet spring and early summer.
Why there is increasing irrigation here is a question I have been unable to find an adequate answer. Certainly we have the water resources of the Mahomet Aquifer, but why more irrigation systems are appearing is difficult to assess.
They are still somewhat of a rarity, that is to say, the vast majority of fields are not irrigated, and in the ones that are, the system is seldom used due to the normal rainfall we receive.
The economics of it all escapes me, and my Ag Expert neighbor as well. The cost of a test well, then the actual well, the diesel or electric powered pump, and the system itself is expensive. Upwards of 100,000 dollars. Whether it eventually pays to do so is the question no one seems to have an answer.
The two systems pictured are within a mile of each other, and located on glacial outwash of sand and gravel — those soils are somewhat more prone to drying out quickly.
Here is some info about Illinois irrigation — what we are seeing are field crops, not truck farm or specialty crops. The soils here are not particularly sandy for the most part as suggested in the article, except as noted above.
Obviously, the farms that install the system must believe it is worth it.
Maybe our farm friends in Blue Mound Township can add some information about all this.
So here are a few photos of two different systems in operation, both within a mile of each other.
The area irrigated is very small in comparison to the total farmed area.