Variable rate irrigation to be demonstrated at Milan No-Till Field Day

Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI) system at UT AgResearch and Education Center at Milan

Variable rate irrigation (VRI) systems allow farmers to turn on and off different sections of an irriagion pivot as it moves across a field. More detail on VRIs and a live demonstration will take place at the Milan No-Till Field Day on Thursday, July 24. Photo by B. Brown, courtesy UTIA. Download image.

MILAN, Tenn. –
University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture researchers will present the latest in irrigation technology at the Milan No-Till Field Day on Thursday, July 24.

“With all the irrigation being installed on Tennessee farms, we know there’s a lot of interest in managing how water is applied to crops,” says Chris Bridges, research associate, UT AgResearch and Education Center at Milan.  “We also know that different parts of a field need different amounts of water, based on soil type, crop needs, and other issues.”

Bridges, along with other researchers at the AgResearch Center at Milan, have been testing a Variable Rate Irrigation (VRI) system. It’s one of the first of its kind in the state. VRI allows users to customize water application based on topography information, soil data maps, yield data and other user-defined information.

When using VRI, farmers have the ability to “turn on” and “turn off” different sections of an irrigation pivot as it moves across a field, so they can apply water only where it needs to be.  Users can also adjust irrigation rates by changing the speed of the pivot. Once the VRI hardware and software are installed, these changes can quickly be made from an office computer or wireless device.

At the Milan No-Till Field Day, an entire tour will be devoted to this subject. Justin Miller with Tennessee Tractor will discuss VRI options for center pivots and demonstrate these devices on the AgResearch Center’s pivot. Brian Leib, associate professor, UT Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science (BESS) will give a perspective on VRI in Tennessee, and Shawn Hawkins, associate professor, UT Department of BESS will cover variable speed pumps and pumping costs.

Attendees should board the designated bus in the tent area to take the VRI Tour.  Buses leave every 20 minutes beginning at 7 a.m.  Field Day registration opens at 6 a.m.

The Milan No-Till Field Day begins at 7 a.m. on Thursday, July 24, at the AgResearch and Education Center at Milan. There is no cost to attend. For directions to the site, and to see the complete field day program, go to or call 731-686-7362. You can also check out the Milan No-Till Facebook page for the latest updates.

The AgResearch and Education Center at Milan is one of 10 research facilities operated by the UT Institute of Agriculture. In addition to its agricultural research programs, UTIA also provides instruction research and public service through the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine and UT Extension offices in every county in the state.



Blake Brown, Director, AgResearch and Education Center at Milan, 731-686-7362,

Ginger Trice, UTIA Marketing and Communications Services, 731-425-4768,