Beneﬁts of Conservation Planning
United States Department of Agriculture
Natural Resources Conservation Service Landowner Proﬁle
“There will be savings Peter Carey is a Modoc County
on everything you can cattle rancher who wanted to
think of!” increase irrigation efﬁciency on
— Peter Carey 170 acres where he had been
Cattle Rancher using open irrigation ditches and a
diesel pump to water his pastures.
His forage production had been
low, and there had been no
production on one of his ﬁelds for
the past two years.
• More efﬁcient water use; Carey applied for cost-share
• Improved forage production; assistance through USDA’s
• Improved water quality; Environmental Quality Incentives
Program (EQIP) with the idea of installing a pivot sprinkler system.
• Reduced erosion; His ﬂood irrigation system of open ditches lost a lot of water through
• Improved pest control. leakage because of the permeable soil, and his diesel pump was
costing more than ever because of rising fuel prices. With the
Conservation Practices ditches, it also took a long time to get water on the ﬁelds.
• Open ditch irrigation system
replaced by a low- pressure, Initially, Carey wanted to install one or two pivot sprinklers and an
underground pipeline; electric pump. This would have saved water and had some other
beneﬁts, but after NRCS evaluated the proposed site other aspects
• Old diesel pump replaced by were discovered. Carey worked with a soil Conservationist and
an electric pump; an Engineer from his local NRCS ofﬁce to develop a conservation
• Pasture planted with speciﬁed plan. Through the planning process and after careful consideration
plant species on about 150 of all of the possibilities, issues, beneﬁts, and goals, Carey came to
acres to produce high-quality the conclusion that a low pressure pipeline ﬂood system had much
forage and reduce erosion; more to offer.
• Prescribed grazing on about
200 acres. Although the pivot system
would have had roughly
Planning Beneﬁts the same installation cost,
maintenance costs over
• Improved irrigation efﬁciency; time would of have been
• Reduced erosion; considerably more. Parts
• Increased forage production; wear out. Energy costs for
a high-pressure sprinkler
• Improved pest control;
system would have been
• Improved water quality; much higher as well. Also,
• Improved air quality. the low head system will be Rancher Peter Carey (left) and
Soil Conservationist Larry Flournoy
about 30 percent more water evaluating the project site.
THE NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER AND PROVIDER
efﬁcient than sprinklers in getting the area. They tear up the ground
water to the root zone, and possibly and ruin forage plants and crops.
more than that on a windy day. “Flood irrigation will keep the squirrels
out of the ﬁelds, saving $6 to $10 per
“The pipeline will improve water acre in control measures,” Flournoy
efﬁciency and improve water quality said.
while having much lower operating
and maintenance costs than a high- “It used to take eight hours just to get
pressure pivot system,” said Soil water to my ﬁelds,” Carey said. “And
Conservationist Larry Flournoy. it took over three weeks, pumping
“Energy costs alone would be about day and night, to irrigate,” he added.
$160 per day to irrigate with a pivot “Now, I’ll be able to get water on the
sprinkler. With ﬂood the cost is ﬁelds in 15 minutes, and irrigation
only $15 per day,” he said. Pest control is another will take just seven days. “There will be savings on
beneﬁt. Ground squirrels are a major problem in everything you can think of!”
By replacing his old irrigation ditch with buried mainline, Carey will eliminate ditch banks used by livestock, eliminate erosion
through the ditch system to the Pit River, and increase forage production through improved irrigation efﬁciency on about 170
acres for cattle and wildlife.
Soil Conservationist Larry Flournoy (right) reviews Carey’s
conservation plan during the pipeline installation. Landowner
Open ditches were replaced with buried, 15-inch PVC pipe.
Pete Carey is standing on the left. The new irrigation system will save water and over time will
cost much less to operate and maintain than a pivot system.