Improving irrigation water use efficiency to reduce withdrawals while keeping local economies healthy and reduce impacts to the state's water supplies. Irrigation technology is being demonstrated and evaluated on the field scale with evaluations of water use efficiency and crop production impacts. This will provide producers information needed for making changes to their operations. The key is maintaining profitability and continued contribution to the local economy while reducing water use.
The Vision has identified action items that encourage use of more efficient irrigation and this concept was endorsed in regional planning in western Kansas. Evaluating new technologies, management practices, and crops, will provide federal and state agencies with a basis for cost-share on new technologies and management techniques.
Mobile Drip Irrigation (MDI) studies began in 2015. Objectives are to compare MDI to spray nozzles, evaluate MDI water distribution in soil, and compare yields under different water application methods.
MDI within a water technology farm evaluation began in 2016. K-State is working with producers to monitor soil moisture, coordinate irrigation scheduling, and gather pertinent data to evaluate water management and other factors impacting crop production and water use on farms. This is a three-year project.
Along with the technology evaluation, K-State is also evaluating the economic feasibility of implementation of irrigation technology and the related value of the conserved groundwater on three Water Technology Farms for crop years 2016-2018.
Evaluation of economic impacts on the Sheridan 6 Local Enhanced Management Area (LEMA) added crop year 2016 to years 2013-2015. Irrigated crop producers in the LEMA reduced total groundwater use by a statistically significant 25.7 percent, and average groundwater use per acre by a statistically significant 18.5 percent when compared to neighbors outside the LEMA. Producer supplied data suggests the LEMA producers reduction in groundwater use has had minimal impact on cash flow.
Plans to expand the implementation of irrigation technology demonstrations and comparisons on the field scale to different regions in the state. The Sheridan 6 LEMA has been extended for 2018-2022.
The Kansas Water Office provided funding for irrigation technology and economic research over the last three fiscal years (FY15-FY17) for the Mobile Drip Irrigation, SD-6 LEMA Economic Study, Dragonline Technology, Water Conservation Area/Water Technology Farm and Tech Farm Economic Research totaling $123,943 using State Water Plan Funds.