John Panuska, Faculty Associate
Department of Biological Systems Engineering
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
3:04 – Total Time
0:21 – Why water conservation counts
0:52 – New way to save water and money
1:12 – Pieces of the WISP progress
1:32 – The technology used
1:59 – How farmers use the program
2:14 – Save water, save money
2:34 – Applying new research
2:52 – Lead out
Sevie Kenyon: Irrigators are keeping track of every drop now. Can you give us an idea why this is so important?
John Panuska: With the climate conditions we’ve had recently it seems that we’ve had floods or we’ve had droughts, and so water management is obviously a very critical issue for farmers trying to get a good crop or remain profitable. Obviously any type of tools or assistance that are available to aid in that process is a value. Having adequate water in the crop/root zone is critical to good yields and high quality crops.
Sevie Kenyon: Can you give us an idea what they’re doing?
John Panuska: One of the tools that we currently have available to assist producers in tracking every drop of water is an irrigation water management tool called WISP2012, which stands for the Wisconsin Irrigation Scheduling Program 2012.
Sevie Kenyon: John, do you want to tell us what the pieces are of the WISP2012?
John Panuska: Well WISP2012 uses soils information, crop information, and climate information to track the amount of water that’s available in the root zone of a crop on a daily basis.
Sevie Kenyon: And John, what kinds of technologies are being used to track these things?
John Panuska: The WISP program includes a number of different technologies. It’s a web based tool, and it’s using what we call the evapotranspiration which is the amount of water that a plant loses through its leaves and from surface soil evaporation, and that number is estimated on a statewide basis using satellite imagery and ground temperatures.
Sevie Kenyon: What does the producer do to access this information?
John Panuska: You can find it on the web simply by doing a search under WISP; W-I-S-P, 2012, and it will come up as the Wisconsin Irrigation Scheduling Program.
Sevie Kenyon: What do you have to say to someone who doesn’t have to irrigate every day?
John Panuska: Often times, when you’re driving down the road, and you see irrigation systems running a lot, you think they’re wasting water. But, pumping water costs money, and they’re not going to want to waste that water. We’re working with producers to get the most crop for every drop of water they put on.
Sevie Kenyon: John, could you perhaps describe the research behind this program?
John Panuska: Research that’s recently been completed down at the University of Nebraska suggests that you can defer irrigation water application on soybeans. We’re currently looking at that here for vegetable crops; perhaps the snap beans or peas, and then we can do that here in Wisconsin and save water overall.
Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with John Panuska, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, University of Wisconsin Extension, and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, WI, and I am Sevie Kenyon.