Planting has been well underway and hopefully we will receive some timely rainfall with little need to irrigate. If you have irrigated ground and are looking for ways to save money, reduce nutrient loss and use less water, consider joining the Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Network, or NAWMN. I’ve been in Extension for nearly ten years and a program I’ve been involved with that has been a very rewarding program and made a positive impact for many is the Nebraska Agricultural Water Management Network, or NAWMN. Evaluation results have shown a one to two inch savings of irrigation since it’s inception. In 2005, only a few producers in the Upper Big Blue NRD, (shortly followed by the Little Blue NRD) were participating, but as of last fall, this program has reached 1,229 in 18 NRDs and 73 of 93 counties. The Network has been having significant impacts on both water and energy conservation due to farmers adopting information and implementing technologies in their irrigation management.
A couple of the tools we use are ETgages® or Atmometers which mimic crop evapotranspiration or ET and Watermark soil matrix sensors which measure soil matric potential or the energy required to remove water from the soil. These two tools have really worked well and have made irrigation management much easier than those gut feelings. The more information you have the better decisions you can make!
If you would like to participate in this dynamic program, let me know and I’d be happy to help and get you started! If you are in the NAWMN, consider installing your ETgage soon and once done with planting, start the soaking/drying cycle on your Watermark sensors to be sure they work! It’s also important to replace the #54 alfalfa canvas covers and wafers on a regular basis at the start of each season. For more information, go to: http://water.unl.edu/web/cropswater/nawmdn.