Research Project

The Mississippi Irrigation Termination Optimization On-line Application (MITOOL App)

Investigators: Nicolas Quintana Ashwell, Drew Gholson, Karen Brasher

Date: 2021

Project Summary

An Integrated Irrigation Event Cost Calculator and Decision Tool

The MITOOL decision tool is an enhanced irrigation cost calculator that provides cost estimates based on specific pumping station characteristics. The app allows to personalize every entry field to the user’s specification allowing, for example, to compare irrigation costs differentials across different energy sources or pumping station performance levels. The tool is highly flexible allowing the farmer to enter his known parameters and pre-filling the rest of the fields with baseline numbers. An innovative feature of the calculator is that it includes an estimate of the associated labor and capital costs associated with an irrigation event as specified. This irrigation cost calculator can be used at any stage in the growing season to produce estimates and compare costs across different specifications. For instance, this feature can serve as a decision aid for growers deciding to renovate power plants and change energy sources from gasoline to electric or diesel powered pumping plants. The tool exploits the most recent information from the U.S. Geological Survey regarding alluvial aquifer water table elevation to populate average county-level pumping lift distances.

An Irrigation Termination Decision Tool

The app was envisioned as a decision tool capable of encouraging farmers to avoid unnecessary final irrigation events. To aid growers to decide whether to go ahead with an additional irrigation event, MITOOL calculates the cost of the irrigation event, including the energy, capital, and labor costs associated with the event specified in the entry page. Based on market conditions (observed crop price levels), the calculator presents the trade-off implied by the decision to start another irrigation event in terms of the yield gains that would be necessary to compensate for the cost of the added irrigation. Furthermore, a weather forecast for the county selected in the entry page is included with the caution that in addition to a cost-benefit trade-off, the producer must weigh the chances of obtaining additional water from precipitation in the near future, making the need for another irrigation event even less necessary.

Conservation Potential

A typical irrigation event for row crops is between 3 and 4 inches of irrigation depth. Consequently, the potential water savings can be significant in addition to improving farmer profitability. This tool also helps to make all the costs of an irrigation event visible, especially towards the end of irrigation season when most of the fuel bills and payroll have been paid, giving the illusion that the decision to irrigate has zero or very low cost. Some growers may think that the fuel is already there and paid for, but that fuel could be saved and used in the next season. Similarly, the labor cost wouldn’t change the payroll cost that much, but that farm-hand could be performing other duties (opportunity cost) such as starting to roll-up pipes or other harvest preparation duties. Producers are generally aware of these costs but this tool makes them visible at decision time for those using it.

NCAAR Scientists Can Help With Irrigation Decisions Dr. Drew M. Gholson is our irrigation specialist: drew. gholson@msstate. edu, 662-390-8505; andDr. Himmy Lo is our irrigation engineer: himmy., 662-390-8509.

Learn More
Project Photos
The Mississippi Irrigation Termination Optimization
On-line Application (MITOOL App)
  • Crop Type:
  • Cotton
  • Corn
  • Soybean
  • Topic:
  • Irrigation Scheduling
  • Decision
  • Irrigation

Contact NCAAR

General Information
Kaye Sullivan

Showcase Demo
Drew Gholson, Coordinator
Himmy Lo