Serving the High Plains

New water-saving guide offered to New Mexico irrigators

Responding to water shortages throughout the western United States, the National Center for Appropriate Technology has released a new edition of its popular “The Irrigator’s Pocket Guide” specifically for New Mexico irrigators.

“With growing conflict over water supplies and with New Mexico irrigators feeling the pinch to save water, energy and money, we wanted to come up with a concise and super-useful guide to water and energy conservation,” said Mike Morris, NCAT’s Southwest Regional Director, who led the project.

Irrigation experts from more than 20 states weighed in on “The Irrigator’s Pocket Guide” over the years, and more than 30,000 copies have been distributed.

This new edition was developed through NCAT’s Soil for Water project, with funding from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“In this new edition of The New Mexico Irrigator’s Pocket Guide, we decided to go beyond pump and motor maintenance and irrigation scheduling and incorporate recent advances in soil science,” Morris said. “When soil gets healthier, it catches and holds more water. Taking care of soil health therefore needs to be a priority for all irrigators.”

The equipment maintenance half of the book features clear and detailed maintenance and troubleshooting procedures for pumps, motors, engines, control panels and distribution systems.

The water maintenance section of the book covers soil health and gives step-by-step instructions for running all common types of irrigation systems efficiently — matching water applied to crop needs.

The 150-page book includes dozens of diagrams, tables and handy conversions and formulas for calculating things such as flow rates, area, pressure, power, friction losses and how long to run a system to apply a given volume of water.

With its small 4-by-6-inch size and waterproof cover, the book can be carried in a hip pocket or glove box.

New Mexico NRCS is distributing 1,500 copies of “The New Mexico Irrigator’s Pocket Guide.” Irrigators interested in getting a copy can check with the Tucumcari NRCS field office at 706 S. First St.

Free copies are also available by mail or online at or