Educational Training

Irrigation Management Webinar Training Series

This educational series of five videos (narrated PowerPoint slides) by Scott Sanford and John Panuska of the University of Wisconsin-Madison will help participants understand:

  • basic equipment options for proper irrigation
  • how much water should be applied and when
  • how to prevent leaching
  • using an irrigation scheduling program
  • use of soil moisture sensors
  • testing to ensure uniform application of water
  • well testing to estimate energy efficiency of the pumping system
  • basics of a drip irrigation system


  1. Irrigation 101-Basics of Irrigation Systems and Water Resources
    If you are not currently an irrigator but are thinking about purchasing a system, this module will provide you with the basic system components (water sources, pumping systems, piping, distribution/application methods and system controls). The discussion includes the advantages and disadvantages of different well and pump types along with different types of water delivery systems (sprinkler and drip). The approximate costs for equipment and operation of various types of systems is also included.
    Click here to go to the link and view the video.
  2. Irrigation Water Management and Scheduling
    This module looks at a plant’s root zone water balance concerning water inputs from irrigation and rainfall and outputs via deep drainage and plant uptake (evapotranspiration). Soil water movement includes how water is held in the soil and what conditions cause it to move deeper into the soil profile. Several methods to monitor soil moisture are presented and discussed along with the advantages, disadvantages and approximate costs of each. In addition, different levels of data management technology are included (readers, data loggers and telemetry-based systems) along with their advantages and disadvantages.
    Click here to go to the link and view the video.
  3. Wisconsin Irrigation Scheduling Program (WISP 2012)
    The WISP 2012 program is a free web-based sopil water management tool that uses the Check Book Method to track root zone soil moisture. WISP uses water inputs and outputs to predict daily soil moisture levels, and the user can also enter observed soil moisture data to calibrate model predictions. Plant potential evapotranspiration (ET) is automatically downloaded based on pivot location (latitude and longitude) and is subsequently adjusted based on crop canopy cover. Daily and annual rainfall, irrigation, ET and deep drainage are summarized. The user can also adjust root zone soil moisture targets. The daily water inputs, outputs and soil moisture values can be exported at any time during the growing season and imported into Excel for record keeping.
    Click here to go to the link and view the video.
  4. Irrigation Testing, Maintenance and Energy Use
    This module covers tests that can be performed to insure the irrigation system is working efficiently and applying water uniformly. Various options are discussed to reduce system operating costs (ex. irrigation scheduling, reduced pressure systems, pipeline design, pump/well testing, off-peak electrical usage and variable speed drives). Pumping plant efficiencies for different energy sources (ex. diesel, gasoline, propane, electric and natural gas) are discussed and compared. The various types of efficiencies (ex. water conveyance, water application, irrigation, water distribution and distribution uniformity) are defined and discussed along with methods to measure these efficiencies. Information is also included on several state and federal energy conservation programs such as incentives, grants, and tax credits.
    Click here to go to the link and view the video.
  5. Basics of Micro/Drip Irrigation
    This module covers the basics of equipment, components, design, operation and water management with drip irrigation. Specifics include the advantages and disadvantages of these types of systems along with maintenance requirements (ex. line flushing, filters, plugged emitters, chemigation and soil salt control). Water management specifics include methods to determine water application time and frequency. A list of major manufacturers of drip irrigation equipment is also included.
    Click here to go to the link and view the video.

Energy use in Irrigation Systems: