Rice Stewardship Going Strong in Louisiana

Pumping plant tests improve water use efficiency and minimize farmers’ costs.

DU and NRCS staff conduct a pumping plant efficiency test.

DU and NRCS staff conduct a pumping plant efficiency test.

Photo © Ducks Unlimited

Ducks Unlimited Rice Stewardship staff have been hard at work performing pumping plant efficiency evaluations in 2017. More than 140 tests have been completed, thanks to seasoned staff members Keith Latiolais and Kyle Soileau and the addition of two highly qualified rice specialists, Biff Handy and Richard Hardee. The tests help rice producers increase water use efficiency and minimize input costs. DU provides this service at no charge as part of our efforts to keep rice agriculture on the landscape. Winter flooded rice lands provide crucial habitat for waterfowl.

The pumping plant tests gather information on flow rate, fuel use and water pressure while an irrigation system is operating. Diesel engines are the common source of power, but other fuels used include natural gas, gasoline, propane and electricity. If an engine or electric motor with varying motor speed is used to drive the pump, the efficiency test is done at three different operating speeds. An efficiency rating is determined for each of the three test speeds and the most efficient operating speed is identified.

If the system is powered by a single-speed motor, only a single-efficiency rating is determined for the pumping plant system. The efficiency rating refers to a standard established in the National Pumping Plant Performance Criteria, or NPPPC, for all types of energy sources. 

Once all the field data has been collected, it is evaluated according to the NPPPC, and a rating (or ratings) for the tested pumping plant system is made. An Evaluation Report is prepared for the farmer to help him or her interpret the results. These reports include both narrative and graphic information that present:  1) NPPPC Efficiency Rating(s), 2) pumping rates (gallons per minute), 3) energy costs to operate the system (per hour and per acre-inch), 4) rates at which fuel is burned by an engine, 5) projected annual operating costs, and 6) projected annual cost savings, assuming that changes are implemented to bring the system up to 100 percent of standard efficiency.