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Plastic pipe maker announces irrigation initiative

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 14, 2014 at 3:41 pm •  Published: August 14, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A Little Rock-based company that makes plastic pipe announced Thursday it is launching a free software program to help farmers in the Mississippi Delta save money by pumping less water.

Delta Plastics owner Dhu Thompson said the Web-based software is based on an earlier piece of software that was difficult to use. The user-friendly version, called Pipe Planner, took four years of work and "millions" of dollars to develop, Thompson said.

The original idea was to charge farmers a licensing fee but Thompson said his company, which also makes plastic bags from recycled waste, is making enough money and he wanted to demonstrate the firm's commitment to sustainability.

The program, if widely adopted, could lead Delta farmers to use at least 20 percent less water by 2020, Thompson said.

When farmers place their above-ground irrigation pipe, they generally drill holes that are all of the same size. The Pipe Planner software guides farmers to drill holes of different sizes so their fields are evenly watered.

"Hole size makes all the difference," Thompson said.

Numerous farming groups, along with the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture and Mississippi State University, endorsed the software at an event at the company's plant at the Port of Little Rock on Thursday.

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