The Northwest Kansas Technical College Water Technology Farm project is a public-private partnership with the goal of educating local landowners and Precision Agriculture students on how irrigation technology can be utilized for more efficient water use for irrigation and to conserve local water supplies for the future. Landowners within Water Conservation Areas (WCA) were given first priority for selection into the program, with other landowners being located within areas of the Northwest Kansas Groundwater Management District No. 4’s district-wide Local Enhanced Management Area (LEMA).
These landowners have agreed to allow students to conduct field mapping and install irrigation technology on their fields, providing students with actual in the field learning opportunities and exposing the landowners to irrigation technology and methods that can be used. Through partnerships with multiple vendors, the students are exposed to multiple brands and types of technology. With the multiple locations involved in the project, students will be exposed to varied field and growing conditions.
For year one soil mapping, soil moisture probe siting and installation, and some pivot controls were completed, in future years it is hoped to continue adding additional technologies as they become available and as the program is financially supported. The technology is supported by vendors, including Crop Metrics, Lindsay, Aquaspy, Servitech, and Hortau.
A Water Conservation Area (WCA) is a designated area with an approved management plan developed by a water right owner or group of water right owners with the consent of the chief engineer to reduce water withdrawals while maintaining economic value via water right flexibility. WCAs were signed into law in April 2015 by Governor Sam Brownback to provide a tool to water right owners to extend the usable lifetime of the Ogallala-High Plains Aquifer.
One WCA is in place for the Northwest Tech Farm. The Franklin family has a 15-year WCA with review every 5 years. Their plan can be found here.