Water Technology Farms are three year pilot public-private partnerships where irrigation technology is demonstrated, related research is conducted on the field scale and water conservation is supported. New irrigation technologies, management techniques and cropping patterns can be tested on a larger scale on these farms. They are also an opportunity for agronomy research to be conducted by the Kansas State Research and Extension office of southwest Kansas.
The Water Technology Farm concept is a Phase II action item from the Ogallala-High Plains Aquifer section of the Long-Term Vision for the Future of Water Supply in Kansas. Water Technology Farms have been valuable in expanding the conversation and education of producers and decision makers on water conservation in areas overlying the depleting Ogallala Aquifer.
Four more Water Technology Farm projects were implemented in 2018: Harshberger Farm in Ford County, Jacob Farm in Sedgwick County, Long Farm in Wichita County and Weber Farm in Harvey County. This equals a total of 10 Water Technology Farm projects, on 35 fields overlying the High Plains Aquifer.
For 2018, the Kansas Water Office is looking to expand the Water Technology Farm concept to additional areas of the state, specifically where Regional Advisory Committees have identified a need for water conservation and increased irrigation water use efficiency. Currently there are discussions to locate Water Technology Farms strategically to support water conservation initiatives being led by local leadership groups. Additionally, there is a component of workforce development in Water Technology Farms with the Northwest Kansas Technical College’s newly developed Precision Agriculture program and its students.
The Water Technology Farms success is contributed to the public-private partnerships for cash and in-kind contributions from 22 agencies and partners. The Kansas Water Office provided $40,000 in FY2016, $50,000 in FY2017, and $45,000 in FY2018 from the State Water Plan Fund. The Kansas Legislature approved $75,000 in funding from the State Water Plan Fund for FY2019.