Wisconsin Cranberry Growers





Irrigation water management is the process of determining and controlling the volume, frequency, and application rate of irrigation water in a planned, efficient manner.




The WSCGA has coordinated with USDA - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and cranberry growers to test and demonstrate irrigation water management (IWM) principles on Wisconsin cranberry marshes.  NRCS encourages the implementation of irrigation water management, including an IWM plan, on all cranberry marshes that utilize irrigation. 


Implementation of IWM includes conducting an assessment of the system to determine average application rates and uniformity of application, determining the water holding capacity of the soil and crop rooting depth, calculating irrigation runtimes to determine how long to irrigate, and monitoring soil moisture to determine when to irrigate.  Irrigation system assessments, including uniformity or catch-can tests, may be performed with simple tools and instructions.  The WSCGA and NRCS have coordinated to develop guidelines for conducting irrigation system assessments, based on the USDA-NRCS National Engineering Handbook, Part 652 – Irrigation Guide.  In addition, WSCGA and NRCS have produced cranberry irrigation scheduling worksheets, to aid in determining when to irrigate.  In all cases, regular monitoring of soil moisture, in the field, is necessary to accurately determine when to irrigate.


Contact the WSCGA or NRCS for assistance with Irrigation Water Management.  Technical advice and irrigation system assessment tools and equipment are available.


Financial assistance for irrigation water management and new irrigation systems may be available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) or the WSCGA.  Contact your conservation planner, your local NRCS office, or the WSCGA for more information.




Guidelines and Standards


Detailed Cranberry Irrigation System Assessment (447 KB): WSCGA-NRCS publication, including procedures and field worksheets

Simple Cranberry Irrigation System Assessment (171 KB): WSCGA-NRCS publication

USDA - NRCS Electronic Field Office Technical Guide: Section IV of the eFOTG includes the NRCS Conservation Practice Standards, including Irrigation Water Management (449); Irrigation System, Sprinkler (442); Irrigation Water Conveyance (430DD); and Irrigation System, Tailwater Recovery (447)

USDA - NRCS Irrigation Page: Includes a wealth of technical information relating to irrigation, including NRCS irrigation handbooks and manuals.



Soil Moisture Monitoring & Irrigation Scheduling


Testing Soils For Water Holding Capacity  (35 KB): Instructions for submitting soil samples for laboratory analysis of water holding capacity, which may be used to inform irrigation water management.

Estimating Soil Moisture by Feel and Appearance (662 KB): USDA-NRCS Program Aid No. 1619

Soil Water Monitoring and Measurement (PNW0475): Washington State University website that includes an on-line version of PNW0475.

WI-MN Cooperative Extension Agricultural Weather: Extension website that includes links to daily evapotranspiration estimates (ET) and historic data from the UW Automated Weather Observation Network





UW-Extension Publications: Follow the link to “Farming” → “Energy & Environment” → “Energy Conservation” to download or order Low-Cost Energy Conservation: Irrigation and Crop Storage Facilities (A3784-08)

UMass Cranberry Station – Available Publications: UMass website that lists “Constructing Water Level Floats,” among its many publications

Mobile Irrigation Lab: Kansas State University website that includes a tool for comparing energy prices, in addition to other tools and references

Rainbird© Sprinkler Irrigation Calculator: Includes both an online calculator for determining nozzle discharge and precipitation rate, and a downloadable “Formulas and Conversions” file



Misc. Links


Focus on Energy: UW-Madison website devoted to the Focus on Energy program

Center for Irrigation Technology: The “Software” link includes a description of the SPACE Pro™ (Sprinkler Profile And Coverage Evaluation) program, which is commonly used by WSCGA and some of the irrigation supply companies to compare the performance of irrigation systems

California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS): California Department of Water Resources website that includes overviews of irrigation scheduling and evapotranspiration (ET)

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