Irrigation Systems For Crop Production In Florida: Descriptions And Costs

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Irrigation Systems For Crop Production In Florida: Descriptions And Costs
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Pitts, D.J.
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"Circular 821"

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Circular821 May1989IrrigationSystemsforCropProductioninFlorida: DescriptionsandCosts1 D.J.PittsandA.G.Smajstrla2AlthoughFloridareceivesbetween45and65 inchesofrainfallannually,irrigationisrequiredfor commercialproductionofmanyoftheagricultural cropsgrowninthestate.Thisrequirementisdueto anumberoffactors: typicalsandysoilshavelimitedwater-holding capacity, seasonaldistributionofrainfallisunevenwith extendeddryperiodscommon,and thehigheconomicvalueandhighcostsofother productionfactorsformanyFloridacropsmake therelativecostofirrigationsmallbycomparison. Infact,morewateriswithdrawnforirrigationin FloridathaninallotherstateseastoftheMississippi rivercombined(EdwardandPatton,1984). Currently,Floridarankstenthamongallstatesinthe UnitedStatesinthenumberofirrigatedacres (IrrigationJournal ,1987).Inadditiontoproviding watertomeettheevapotranspirationdemandsof crops,someirrigationmethodscanprovidefreeze protectionandreducedheatstress,aswellasan economicalmeansofapplyingfertilizersand pesticides(Burmanetal.,1980). IrrigationsystemscurrentlyinuseinFloridacan bebroadlyclassifiedassubsurface,flood,sprinkler andmicro.Thereareseveralmethodsofsubsurface irrigation.However,witheachanartificialwater tableismaintained,andwaterreachestherootzone bycapillaryforces.Floodirrigationhaslimited application,andispracticedprimarilywithriceon organicsoils.Overheadsprinklerirrigationisthe applicationofwaterthroughaspraydevice.Usually thewaterisappliedoverthetopofthecropcanopy, thoughsometimesunder-treesprinklersareused. Microirrigationincludesdrip,trickleand microsprinklerdevices. Eachirrigationmethodhasadvantagesand disadvantagesthatneedtobeconsideredwhen selectingasystemforaspecificapplication.The decisionastowhichirrigationsystemismost appropriateisdependentonmanyfactors,among whichare:topography,soil,requirementsforfreeze protectionorplantestablishment,availabilityand qualityofwater,diseasefactors,costofpumpingand labor,initialsystemcostandothereconomicfactors. Theefficiencyofanirrigationsystemisalsoan importantelementinthedecisiononwhichirrigation methodtoemploy.Irrigationefficiencyhasseveral components.Thewaterconveyanceefficiency(Ec) representsthelossesintransportingtheirrigation waterfromthesourcetothefieldwhereitistobe 1.ThisdocumentisCircular821,FloridaCooperativeExtensionService,InstituteofFoodandAgriculturalSciences,UniversityofFlorida. Publicationdate:May1989. 2.D.J.Pitts,formerassociateprofessor,SouthwestFloridaResearchandEducationCenter,Immokalee,Florida;A.G.Smajstrla,professor, DepartmentofAgriculturalEngineering,CooperativeExtensionService,InstituteofFoodandAgriculturalSciences,UniversityofFlorida, GainesvilleFL32611. TheInstituteofFoodandAgriculturalSciencesisanequalopportunity/affirmativeactionemployerauthorizedtoprovideresearch,educational informationandotherservicesonlytoindividualsandinstitutionsthatfunctionwithoutregardtorace,color,sex,age,handicap,ornational origin.Forinformationonobtainingotherextensionpublications,contactyourcountyCooperativeExtensionServiceoffice. FloridaCooperativeExtensionService/InstituteofFoodandAgriculturalSciences/UniversityofFlorida/ChristineTaylorStephens,Dean

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IrrigationSystemsforCropProductioninFlorida:DescriptionsandCosts Page2applied.Conveyanceefficiencyistheratioofthe volumeofwaterdeliveredtothevolumeofwater placedintheconveyancesystem.Application efficiency(Ea)istheratioofthevolumeofwater storedintherootzonetothevolumeofwater deliveredbytheirrigationsystem.Reservoirstorage efficiency(Es)istheratioofthevolumeofwater availablefromthereservoirtothevolumeofwater deliveredtothereservoir.Theoverallirrigation efficiencyofasystem(Eo)istheproductofthe efficienciesofthecomponents.Moreinformationon irrigationsystemefficienciesisavailableinIFAS ExtensionBulletin247"EfficienciesofFlorida AgriculturalIrrigationSystems." Thispublicationdescribesthevarioustypesof irrigationsystemsusedinFlorida,theirapplications, limitations,andestimatedcosts.Characteristicsof systemsarepresentedinTable1.Table2 summarizesestimatedlaborrequirementsandcosts.SUBSURFACEIRRIGATIONFloridahasaboutonemillionacresutilizing subsurfaceirrigation( IrrigationJournal,1987). Subsurfaceirrigationhashistoricallybeenoneofthe mostcommonformsofirrigationpracticedinFlorida. Undersubsurfaceirrigation,waterisappliedtothe fieldthroughlateralditchesorundergroundpipes spacedoncentersfrom10to200feetapartfrom whichwatermoveshorizontallybysubsurfaceflowto formaperched(mounded)watertableonanexisting hardpanoronanaturallyoccurringhighwatertable. Waterthenmovesupwardtotherootzoneby capillaryforces.Thisirrigationmethodisusedwith avarietyofcropsincludingcitrus,sugarcane, vegetables,pasture,andhay.Therearefourmain variationsofsub-surfaceirrigationpracticedin Florida:openditchseepage,semi-closedseepage,subirrigationandcrownflood.SeepageSystemsOpenditchseepageirrigationiscommonon vegetablecropsandsugarcane.Withthismethod waterisconveyedfromthepumptothefieldbyopen fieldditchesandthenisdistributedthroughthefield byanetworkoflateralditches.Thewatertableis generallyheldataconstantlevel.Duetodeep percolationandevaporation,theremaybesignificant conveyancelosseswiththismethod. Conveyancelossesareeliminatedwiththesemiclosedseepagesystemsincewaterisbroughttothe fieldthroughundergroundPVCpipe.Lateralditches aregenerallyshallowerandclosertogether.Theyare ofteninstalledonagrade,andtheirrigationwateris eithercontinuouslyorperiodicallydistributedthrough theditches.Therefore,withthesesystems,the perchedwatertablemaybeheldconstantorallowed tofluctuate.Forboththeopenditchandthesemiclosedseepagemethods,theditchesservebothfor drainageandforirrigation.Sub-irrigationWaterisbothconveyedtoanddistributed throughthefieldbyundergroundpipewith sub-irrigation.Thefielddistributionpipeis perforatedandcanfunctionbothfordrainageand irrigation.Cloggingproblemsmaydevelopinthe perforatedpipeduetoironocherdeposits(Ford, 1987).CrownFloodCrownfloodsubsurfaceirrigationiscommonwith citrus.Withthismethod,raisedbedsareformedon whichthetreesareplanted.Thebedsprovide elevationabovewhatisoftenanaturallyoccurring highwatertable,allowingformorerootdevelopment. Theresultingfurrowsbetweenthebedsareusedto distributewaterforirrigationandtoprovideaflow pathfordrainagewater. Subsurfaceirrigationrequiresflattopography,a soillayerwithlimitingpermeability,andsoilswitha highdegreeoflateralhydraulicconductivity,suchas thesandyflatwoodssoilsandtheorganicsoilsof southFlorida.Theefficienciesofthesemethodsare quitevariableandaredependentonthedepthtothe naturallyoccurringwatertable,thepermeabilityof thehardpan,andmanagementofthesystem. Efficienciesaregenerallylow,rangingfrom20to60 percent.Majoradvantagesofthesesystemsarelow initialcostsandlowlevelsofmanagementthatis required.Thewellorwatersourcecapacitynormally requiredrangesfrom8to25gpm/ac,butis sometimesmore,dependingonirrigationsystem efficiency.SPRINKLERSYSTEMSSprinklerirrigationsystemsareadaptabletomany crops,soilsandtopographicalconditions.These systemsarecommoninFloridaandcanbe categorizedbyhowtheyaremovedorcycledto irrigateafield.Sprinklersystemscanbegroupedinto

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IrrigationSystemsforCropProductioninFlorida:DescriptionsandCosts Page3thefollowingbroadcategories:solidset,portableset, guns,centerpivots,andlateralmoves.SolidSetSystemsSolidsetsystemstaketwoforms: anundergroundnetworkofPVCpiping permanentlyinstalledwithsprinklersthatprovide coveragefortheentireareatobeirrigated,or above-groundportablepipingsystemswhichare placedinthefieldatthestartoftheirrigation seasonandareleftinplaceduringtheentire season. Bothofthesesystemshavehighinitialcostsbecause pipeandsprinklersmustbeboughttocoverthe entireareaatonce. Duetothesehighinitialcost,thesesystemsare generallylimitedtouseonhighvaluecropssuchas ornamentals,citrus,orchards,vegetablesandfor lawnsandgolfcourses.Theportablesolidsetsystem usuallyconsistsofaluminumpipeslaidouttoirrigate theentirefieldinonesettominimizelabor. Solidsetsystemscanbeautomatedtooperatein zonesandthereforerequirelittlelabor.Inaddition, theyhavethecapacitytodeliverfertilizerand chemicalsdirectlytothecropthroughtheirrigation system(fertigation).Thesesystemscanalsobeused toreduceheatstressbyintermittentsprinkling.Solid setsystemsarecommoninFlorida,coveringmore than200,000acres,notincludinghomeandgolf coursesprinklersystems(IrrigationJournal,1987). Thesesystems,ifproperlydesignedandoperated,can haveapplicationefficienciesfrom70to86percent. Adisadvantageofthismethodonsomecropsisthat leafwettingcanpromotediseaseandpestproblems. Iffreezeorfrostprotectionisrequired,these systemscanserveadualpurpose,thusjustifyingthe largeinvestmentcost.Asmanyas80,000acresof ornamentalcropsinFloridahavefrostandfreeze protection,aswellasirrigationneeds,providedby thismethod(IrrigationJournal,1987).When operatingforfreezeprotection,pumpingcapacity requirementsmaybeashighas115gpm/acre. Researchershavereportedsuccessinproviding protectionforstrawberries,citrus,vegetablesand ornamentalsagainsttemperaturesaslowas15F (Burmanetal.,1980).PortableSetSystemsPortablesetsystemsareabove-ground,moveable systemsinwhichonlyaportionofthefieldiscovered atonetime.Thesesystemsusuallyconsistof aluminumpipethatiscoupledtogetherandcanbe easilydisassembledtobemovedtodifferentpartsof thefield.Theadvantageofportableoversolidset systemsisthelowerinitialcost.Thedisadvantageis thehighlaborrequirementformovingthepiping system,whichisnormallymovedbyhand.Thislabor requirementisofparticularconcernwherecoarsetexturedsoilswithlowwater-holdingcapacitiesare common,thusrequiringfrequentmovesofthe irrigationsystem.Thesesystemscanprovideonly limitedfreezeprotection,andonlytothatspecific portionofthefieldthatisbeingirrigatedatthetime.GunsGunsaresimplylargesprinklersthatcanbe movedbyhandortractororthatareself-propelled. Theself-propelled(traveling)gunswerefirst introducedinthe1960sandarestillincommonuse. Theircapacitiesrangefrom100to1000gpmwith operatingpressuresfrom60to120psi.Thesehigh operatingpressureshavelargepowerrequirements, causinghighenergycosts. Anadvantageoftravelinggunsisthattheycanbe usedtoirrigateirregularlyshapedfields.Theyhave mediuminitialinvestmentcostsandlabor requirements(seeTable1andTable2).Becauseof highapplicationrates,landirrigatedbythismethod shouldberelativelyflatandhavesoilwithahigh infiltrationcapacity.Irrigationefficiencyvaries(60to 75percent)dependingonoperatingconditions.The wellorwatersourcecapacityusuallyrequiredisfrom 8to12gpm/acre.Thesesystemsareinextensiveuse throughoutFloridawithapproximately150,000acres currentlybeingirrigatedbythismethod( Irrigation Journal,1987).CenterPivotsandLateralMovesThecenterpivotandlateralmovesprinklersare large,self-propelledandhighlymechanizedirrigation systems.Theyprovidedmajoradvancementsin irrigationtechnologyinthe1960s.Thesesystems havegainedwidespreadusagethroughouttheUnited Statesforagronomiccropproductionbecausethey arerelativelyefficient,lowinlaborandoperating costs,andmediumininitialinvestmentcost.Thetwo

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IrrigationSystemsforCropProductioninFlorida:DescriptionsandCosts Page4commontypesofdriveunitsarehydraulic(water)and electric. Thecenterpivotisaradial-movepipelinethat rotatesaroundapivotpoint.Thesesystemscanbe towableandthusmovedfromonefieldtoanotherto reducethecostperacre.Theycoveracirculararea, butcanbeattachedwithanoptionalendgunor corneringmechanismtoirrigatethecornersofthe field.Thelateralmoveisaself-propelledsprinkler systemthattravelsinalineardirection.These systemshaveguidanceandwaterfeedmechanisms thatallowtheirrigationofrectangularfields. Althoughsimilartothecenterpivot,thelateralmove hashigherlaborandinitialinvestmentcosts. Thesesystemsaresuitableformanycropsandare adaptabletomostsoilsandtopographywithslopes lessthan15percent.Theycanbeusedforfertigation andtheapplicationofotherchemicals.Thelengthof thesesystemsrangesfrom300to2600ftwith1/4mile beingmostcommon.Operatingpressuresrangefrom 15to70psi.Thelowerpressuresystemsare becomingmorecommonduetoreducedpumping costs.Withproperdesignandoperation,these systemscanbeveryefficient;70to80percent efficiencyiscommon.Theyrequireawatersource capacityrangingfrom5to8gpmperacre.Center pivotandlateralmoveirrigationsystemscurrently irrigatemorethan130thousandacresinFlorida (IrrigationJournal,1987).Formorediscussionon centerpivotirrigationsystems,seeIFASExtension Circular804.MICROIRRIGATIONMicroirrigationsystemsarethemostrecent advancementinirrigationtechnology.Thesesystems distributewaterthroughanetworkofplasticpipe directlytothesoilneartheplantbysmallfrequent applicationsthroughdevicescalledemitters.A microirrigationsystemconsistsofawatersource, pump,powerunit,filtrationandchemicalinjection equipment,mainpipelines,manifoldpipelines,lateral pipelinesandemitters.Thetermmicroirrigationisa generaltermwhichincludesseveralspecifictypesof systems,includingdriportrickle,microsprinklers, bubblerlinesources,perforatedpipesandseepage hoses. Microirrigationcandramaticallyreducethe amountofwaterappliedcomparedtosomeofthe otherirrigationmethods.Italsohasotherpotential advantagessuchas: providingadequatemoisturetotherootzoneat alltimes, minimizingweedgrowthsincetheentiresoil surfaceisnotirrigated,and controllingnutrientapplication,thusminimizing leaching. Someofthedisadvantagesofthemicroirrigation systemsare: mediumtohighinitialcost, highlevelofmanagementparticularlyonthe sandysoilscommoninFlorida,and emittercloggingcanbeaseriousproblemif properprecautionsarenottakenwithregardto watertreatment. Formoreinformationoncausesandpreventionof emitterplugging,seeIFASBulletin258. Theseirrigationsystemsoperateatlowpressures (lessthan30psi),thusreducingpumpingcostsin comparisontosomeothersystems.Thewater capacityrequirementsgenerallyrangefrom5to10 gpm/acre.Efficienciesaretypicallyhigh,ranging from75to90percentifproperlydesignedand operated.CurrentlyinFloridaover350,000acresare beingirrigatedbysomeformofmicroirrigation (IrrigationJournal,1987). Therearetwoprimarycategoriesof microirrigationsystemsinuseinFlorida:dripand microsprinklers.Driptypemicroirrigationsystems applywaterfromdiscretepointsourceemitters attachedtoormoldedintolaterallines. Microsprinklersspraywaterthroughtheairfroma networkofplasticlateralpipes.DripInFlorida,dripirrigationsystemsarecommon withvegetable,citrusandornamentalcrops.There aretwobasictypesofdripirrigationsystemsinuse: permanentlaterallines(5to10yearsofusefullife), anddisposaltubingthatisreplacedaftereachcrop. Thepermanentlateraliscommonwithcitrus productionwhilethedisposableisusedmoreoften withvegetableproduction.Emitterdischargerates rangefrom0.3gphto2.0gphwith1gphbeingmost

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IrrigationSystemsforCropProductioninFlorida:DescriptionsandCosts Page5common.Operatingpressurestypicallyrangefrom10 to20psi.MicrosprinklersSinceFlorida'stypicallysandysoilslimitthe lateralmovementofwaterfromtheemitter,reduced wettedvolumeofthesoilresults.Toovercomethis limitationwithdripsystems,microsprinklersareoften used.Withmicrosprinklerstheflowrateandwetted volumeofsoilissignificantlygreaterthanthe traditionaldripirrigationsystems.Flowratesrange from10to30gphpersprayerwithwetteddiameters from5to30feet.Thissystemismostcommonin citrusproduction.Distributingwateroveralarger areahasresultedinincreasedyields.Inaddition, largerflowrateshavereducedfiltrationrequirements andpluggingproblems.ENERGYCOSTSINIRRIGATIONPumpingcostsareamajorfactortoconsider whenchoosinganirrigationsystemanditspower source.Thepowerandenergyrequirementsofa pumpingunitdependuponthepumpingrate, irrigationsystempressurerequirements,frictionlosses withinthedistributionsystemandpumpefficiency. Thecostandconvenienceofthefuelsourcesneedsto beevaluatedinthedecisiononwhichtypeofpower unittopurchase.Formoreinformationonirrigation pumpingcostsseeIFASExtensionPublicationAE-62. Table3a. PumpingCostsperHP-hourwith electricity asfuelsource(basedonmotor efficiencyof 88%-1.18 hp-hr/KWH). Table3b.PumpingcostsperHP-hrwith gasoline asfuelsource(basedon 11.54 hp-hr/galcorrectedfor5%driveloss). Table3c. PumpingcostsperHP-hrwith propane asfuelsource(basedon 9.2 hp-hr/gal-corrected for5%driveloss). Table3d. PumpingcostsperHP-hrwith diesel as fuelsource(basedon 14.58 hp-hr/gal-corrected for5%driveloss).SUMMARYIrrigationisrequiredformuchofthecrop productioninFlorida.Thetypeofirrigationsystem thatshouldbeusedisspecifictothecropand location.Suchfactorsastheavailabilityandthecost ofirrigationwater,andtherequirementsforfreeze protection,fertigationorheatstressreductionareall importantindeterminingwhichirrigationsystemis mostappropriateforaparticularapplication.Inthe finalanalysis,economicfactorssuchascostoflabor orfuel,initialsystemcost,andinterestratesareof primaryimportancefordeterminingwhichsystemto purchase. Thiscircularprovidesabriefdescriptionofthe variousirrigationsystemsusedinFlorida,their applications,limitations,andsomerelativecost information.Publicationsprovidingmoredetailed informationonthevariousirrigationsystemswere referenced.Theyareavailablebycontactingyour countyExtensionagent.REFERENCESBurman,R.D.,P.R.Nixon,J.L.WrightandW.O. Pruit.1980."WaterRequirements"in: Design andOperationofFarmIrrigationSystems.M.E. Jensen,ed.pp.215-216.ASAE.St.Joseph, MI. Edward,F.A.andD.J.Patton.1984. Water ResourcesAtlasofFlorida.FloridaState UniversityPress.Tallahassee,FL. Ford,H.W.1987."IronOcherandRelatedSludge DepositsinSubsurfaceDrainLines."Extension Circular671IFAS,UniversityofFlorida, Gainesville,FL. IrrigationJournal.1987.IrrigationSurvey. January/February,pp.23-31.

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IrrigationSystemsforCropProductioninFlorida:DescriptionsandCosts Page6Table1. CharacteristicsofFloridairrigationsystems. SystemType Area(acres) InitialCostz,y($/ac) OperatingPressure (psi) Efficiency (percent) EstimatedLife (years) Subsurface SeepageVariable30-100 5-20 20-60 20 Flood Variable30-100 5-10 20-50 20 Sprinkler Solid-setVariable1200-2000 15-60 70-85 20 Gun 10-100 300-400 60-120 60-75 10 Pivot 40-500 300-500 15-70 65-80 15 Microirrigation Micro Various 600-1200 10-30 75-90 10 zInitialcostestimatesincludewatersupplyunit.yDoesnotincludethecostoflandforming. Table2.Estimatesoflabor,pumpingandannualcostsofFloridairrigationsystems. SystemType AnnualPumpage (inches) Labor (man-hr/ac-inch) PumpingCostsz($/ac-inch) TotalAnnualCostsx($/ac-inch) Subsurface Seepage 30-90 0.05-0.1 0.75-1.50 75-150 Flood 30-90 0.05-0.1 0.75-1.50 75-150 Sprinkler Solidset 10-25 0.04-0.6 1.75-2.50 350-500 TravelingGun 10-30 0.1-0.5 3.00-5.00 300-500 CenterPivot 10-25 0.05-0.1 1.00-1.75 75-200 Microirrigation Micro 10-25 0.1-0.5y1.00-1.75 200-350 zWillvarydependingonyear,cropandlocation.yDependsheavilyonsystemmaintenancerequirements,waterquality,filtrationneeds,etc.xAssumed10percentinterestrate. Table3a. PumpingCostsperHP-hourwith electricity asfuelsource(basedonmotorefficiencyof 88%-1.18 hphr/KWH). ElectricityCostperKilowatt-Hour PumpLoad(HP) $.05 $.06 $.07 $.08 $.10 $.12 10 $.42 $.51 $.59 $.68 $.85 $1.02 20 .84 1.02 1.19 1.36 1.69 2.03 30 1.27 1.53 1.78 2.03 2.54 3.05 40 1.69 2.03 2.37 2.71 3.39 4.07 50 2.12 2.54 2.97 3.39 4.24 5.08 75 3.18 3.81 4.45 5.08 6.36 7.63 100 4.24 5.08 5.93 6.78 8.47 10.17 125 5.30 6.35 7.41 8.48 10.59 12.71 150 6.36 7.62 8.90 10.17 12.71 15.26

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IrrigationSystemsforCropProductioninFlorida:DescriptionsandCosts Page7Table3b.PumpingcostsperHP-hrwith gasoline asfuelsource(basedon 11.54 hp-hr/gal-correctedfor5%driveloss). FuelCostPerGallon PumpLoad(HP) $.80 $.90 $1.00 $1.20 $1.40 $1.60 10 $.69 $.78 $.87 $1.04 $1.21 $1.39 20 1.39 1.56 1.73 2.08 2.43 2.77 30 2.08 2.34 2.60 3.12 3.64 4.16 40 2.77 3.12 3.47 4.16 4.85 5.55 50 3.47 3.90 4.33 5.20 6.07 6.93 75 5.20 5.85 6.50 7.80 9.10 10.40 100 6.93 7.80 8.67 10.40 12.13 13.86 125 8.66 9.75 10.84 13.00 15.16 17.33 150 10.40 11.70 13.00 15.60 18.20 20.79 Table3c. PumpingcostsperHP-hrwith propane asfuelsource(basedon 9.2 hp-hr/gal-correctedfor5%driveloss). FuelCostPerGallon PumpLoad(HP) $.70 $.80 $.90 $1.00 $1.20 $1.40 10 $.76 $.87 $.98 $1.09 $1.30 $1.52 20 1.52 1.74 1.96 2.17 2.61 3.04 30 2.28 2.61 2.93 3.26 3.91 4.57 40 3.04 3.48 3.91 4.35 5.22 6.09 50 3.80 4.35 4.89 5.43 6.52 7.61 75 5.71 6.52 7.34 8.15 9.78 11.41 100 7.61 8.70 9.78 10.87 13.04 15.22 150 11.42 13.05 14.67 16.31 19.56 22.83 Table3d. PumpingcostsperHP-hrwith diesel asfuelsource(basedon 14.58 hp-hr/gal-correctedfor5%driveloss). FuelCostPerGallon PumpLoad(HP) $.80 $.90 $1.00 $1.20 $1.40 $1.60 10 $.55 $.62 $.69 $.82 $.96 $1.10 20 1.10 1.23 1.37 1.65 1.92 2.19 30 1.65 1.85 2.06 2.47 2.88 3.29 40 2.19 2.47 2.74 3.29 3.84 4.39 50 2.74 3.09 3.43 4.12 4.80 5.49 75 4.12 4.63 5.14 6.17 7.20 8.23 100 5.49 6.17 6.86 8.23 9.60 10.97 125 6.86 7.71 8.58 10.29 12.00 13.71 150 8.24 9.26 10.29 12.35 14.40 16.46