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LITTLE ROCK — A plastic pipe maker is making free software available to farmers in the Mississippi Delta to help them better plan their irrigation as a way to conserve water and save money.

Little Rock-based Delta Plastics announced Thursday that it's launching Web-based software called Pipe Planner to help growers reduce what they spend pumping water from aquifers and thus conserve an important natural resource.

Delta Plastics owner Dhu Thompson says computer-based planning for irrigation has been around for years but the program was difficult to use. Thompson said he spent "millions" of dollars working with the developers of the existing program to make it user-friendly.

Thompson said growers now use holes of the same size in their above-ground irrigation pipe, but altering the sizes can more efficiently water crops.

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