UNL CropWatch July 30, 2010: UNL Soil Moisture Sensor Seminar Aug. 2

UNL CropWatch July 30, 2010: UNL Soil Moisture Sensor Seminar Aug. 2

July 30, 2010

Educators and participants in the Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Demonstration Network will speak about the use of soil moisture sensor technology at special seminars to be held in Alma and Red Cloud on Monday.

The Network, a partnership formed through the University of Nebraska Biological Systems Engineering Department and UNL Extension Service, has conducted studies with farmers throughout the state to demonstrate the impact of moisture sensors in saving irrigation water. They will present the findings from some of these studies at the seminars, along with other important information about this relatively new technology.

The Lower Republican Natural Resources District (LRNRD) is promoting the use of moisture sensors and has received a $625,000 grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service which it will match with $155,000 in local funds to pay $500 to $600 cost share per irrigated field for irrigators who install the technology. The NRD is hosting the educational seminars as part of that project. Irrigators must apply at their NRCS office by Aug. 11 to be included in the first year of the project.

"Soil moisture sensors have been shown in some of these studies to save two or more inches of water per acre when used properly to drive the timing of irrigation, with crop yields equal to or in some cases higher than other identically planted fields," said Mike Clements, general manager of the LRNRD. "If we could save even one inch annually on our 327,000 groundwater irrigated acres, that would be more than 27,000 acre feet saved each year."

Clements and the NRD Board have been working on a variety of projects to provide more sustainable conservation options to irrigators in the face of the possible widespread irrigation shutdown proposed by state water regulators concerned with Republican River Compact compliance. The district recently received an additional federal grant that will help support a $5 million, five-year project to temporarily or permanently retire thousands of irrigated acres in the district.

"The positive impact of these two projects could be huge for us in terms of doing our fair share to meet compact compliance obligations," Clements said. He added that the general public, elected officials and anyone else interested in the issue is also welcome to attend the seminars.

The seminars will be held at 1 p.m. at the Johnson Center, 509 Main Street in Alma, and at 3:30 p.m. at the community center, 142 West Third Street in Red Cloud.

Dewey Lienemann
Extension Educator


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