SIKESTON, Mo., April 29, 2015 –Plans are proceeding to drill a well and develop a center pivot irrigation system in the agriculture experiential learning field at Southeast Missouri State University-Sikeston.
The irrigation development will benefit agribusiness students who will have direct experiences with irrigation technology and learn how irrigation improves farm profitability, according to Dr. Mike Aide, chair of Southeast’s Department of Agriculture. Drilling of the well is slated to begin next week with completion of the project scheduled for May.
“We will grow various crops for student undergraduate research experiences and classroom instruction,” Aide said. “Southeast Missouri is the most irrigated region in Missouri and the water availability is required to guarantee high crop yields.”
The center pivot irrigation system and land grading have been made possible through private donations. The $30,000 well is being funded with donations to the Southeast Missouri University Foundation and the Southeast Department of Agriculture.
“We are thankful for the support offered to the department for this project, especially Irrigation Central and also Below Ag Service,” Aide said, adding that by collaborating with local businesses, students have the chance to network with agribusiness leaders and others working in agriculture.
Irrigation Central of Sikeston, a well/irrigation supplier, is providing equipment and labor to build the well and install a pump, turbine motor, irrigation feed piping and electronic control panel for a pivot irrigation system, according to Aide.
Aide said Irrigation Central, a supporter of Southeast’s Department of Agriculture, will install the irrigation systems, both of which are commonly used in southeast Missouri to irrigate crops. The irrigation canal will be a 200-foot radius station.
“Students will design and implement field experiments with corn, soybeans and other crops, and each will be irrigated. The experiments will be an educational experience to teach the basics of agronomy using real-world technology,” Aide said.
About 50 Southeast agribusiness students taking classes at the Sikeston campus will get hands-on experience at the field laboratory, Aide said. Students are already assessing the soil in the outdoor facility and will soon start to create research plot designs and implement their ideas, he said.
Most of the agriculture production classes – including soils, soil fertility, weed science, plant pathology, water management, crop science and crop physiology — will work in the field laboratory. By using the field, students have a chance to gain real world production experience as well as the ability to design and implement basic field research, Aide said. Students will have first-hand knowledge of technology in agriculture, and gain hands-on experience by learning to plant, irrigate, fertilize and harvest crops, highly desirable skills for agriculture graduates seeking jobs.
“They will learn how water management is central to producing high value crops and how water management interfaces with soil science, plant pathology, crop physiology and weed management,” Aide said.