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Utah State University Extension

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Deficit irrigation is any irrigation level that does not meet the crop’s full evapotranspiration (ET) demand, meaning evaporation from plant and soil surface and transpiration through plant growth. This strategy is often a last resort for optimizing water use as opposed to those that will not limit production. However, deficit irrigation is often necessary in parts of Utah due to drought or inadequate water supplies. This was especially true in 2021–2022 due to record droughts. Deficit irrigation strategies for pastures have been developed, but they have yet to be compared and evaluated in Utah. This fact sheet summarizes 6 years of research on deficit irrigation of pastures in northern and southern Utah. This research included different periods of irrigation, short-season irrigation, nitrogen fertilizer additions, and different pasture grass species to evaluate how they influenced forage production.

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