Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Biological Engineering (MS)

Degree Level



Biological and Agricultural Engineering


Christopher G. Henry

Committee Member

Brian Haggard

Second Committee Member

Michele Reba

Third Committee Member

Kent Kovacs

Fourth Committee Member

Tom Costello


Applied sciences, Earth sciences, Agriculture, Groundwater, Irrigation, Pump testing


Traditionally, irrigation pumping plants have been tested using an instantaneous appraoch, which tests performance parameters over a very short time interval. Using this method, the tester measures the necessary work and energy use parameters to calculate the desired pumping plant performance values. The primary limitation of this approach is its inability to determine the season long efficiency of an irrigation pumping plant.

A new approach to evaluating irrigation pumping plant performance is the use of pump monitoring systems which use high frequency, real-time data collection and telemetry to relay information directly from the pump to the user. This method of testing essentially conducts a continuous pumping plant performance evaluation.

Throughout a typical irrigation season, a single pumping plant typically operates at a wide range of total dynamic heads as a result of changes in operational conditions due to factors such as aquifer drawdown and irrigation demand changes. When coupled with telemetry, this approach to irrigation pumping plant testing can provide real-time feedback to the irrigator on pumping plant performance, even as the operating conditions of the system changes throughout the season.

Nearly 100 pumping years of diesel and electric pumping plant data was evaluated over four irrigation seasons using a network of these pump monitoring systems. Annual averages and trends in water pumping flow rate, cost of water per unit volume pumped, and efficiency as a percentage of the Nebraska Pumping Plant Performance Criteria, among other performance values were reported. These pumping performance values can be used to develop recommendations to producers in order to improve pumping plant performance and reduce operating costs as well as identifying the causes of pumping plant inefficiencies.