The efforts on Kansas farms to extend the life of the state’s diminishing underground water supply will be showcased at upcoming field tours this month.
The state now has 16 Water Technology Farms - demonstration and technology comparison projects aimed at showing farmers how to use less irrigation water on their crops. Tours will take place at a handful of the farms in western Kansas.
Each location will showcase technology implemented and the results to date.
At the farm near Larned, visitors will see fields featuring Dragon-Line technology – a precision mobile drip irrigation system manufactured by Teeter Irrigation that is aimed at efficiency – and conventional irrigation with a low spray nozzle, said Pat Janssen, a Kiowa County farmer with the organization WaterPack, which is helping put on the tour.
Janssen said field event is designed to educate producers and others about improving irrigation water use.
Janssen, as well as Richard Wenstrom will WaterPack, will be speaking. Danny Rogers, K-State Extension irrigation engineer, will present initial findings for the first year of the farm. K-State’s Jonathan Aguilar also will give a presentation, Janssen said.
Local producers, irrigation companies such as Teeter Irrigation, as well as soil-moisture sensor dealers, will be on site, as well, he said. TerrAvoin is doing aerial imagery of the field.
The Pawnee County tour begins at 2 p.m. at ILS Farms, Janssen said. The farm includes two center pivot circles.
The site at the intersection of 80th Avenue and C Road in Pawnee County. The event is free and does not require and RSVP.
According to the Kansas Water Office, Kansas' first three Water Technology Farms were implemented in 2016. The concept is part of an idea outlined in the Kansas Water Vision Plan. With too many irrigation wells drawing down western Kansas finite resource - the Ogallala Aquifer - Gov. Sam Brownback took the reins of the situation shortly after taking office.
He charged Kansas water users and his staff to develop a plan to preserve and extend the state’s water resources. If nothing changes, 70 percent of the Ogallala Aquifer could be depleted by 2064.
The western Kansas economy centers on the Ogallala - with more than 95 percent of the water being used for irrigation. A switch to dryland crops would mean less revenue for the region, fewer people working on the farm, fewer businesses supplying that population and even more depopulation of rural western Kansas.
Water Technology Farms allow for the installation and testing of the latest irrigation technologies on a whole field scale.
The Kansas Water Office, Kansas State University and Northwest Technical College are hosting the fields days at the state’s Water Technology Farms this week.
“We greatly appreciate the leadership and innovation from these stakeholders who are willing to participate in these demonstration farms and the partners who also believe in these projects,” said Kansas Water Office Director Tracy Streeter in a press release. “While we need to evaluate the performance of these farms for multiple years, the preliminary results from a water savings and economic standpoint are encouraging. There is growing evidence that water use reductions coupled with irrigation technology adoption and water management will result in positive effects on the aquifer and the producer’s bottom line.”