Soil & Water Management

Agricultural Production Crop Production

Soil & Water Management

Various soil and water management practices exist which will minimize soil loss and evaporative water loss, while providing a good environment for crop establishment.

Manure Application Following Silage

photo of corn silage harvest
With silage harvest coming up quickly, manure application will soon follow. Because silage is often the first crop to come off the field, it allows for earlier manure application and thus an earlier cleanout of pens before winter. As that manure application plan develops, include best stewardship practices for optimum rates and preferred application methods in final decisions.

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Sensors on the Pivot for Automated Irrigation Scheduling in the Great Plains

Thermal infrared sensors mounted on the center pivot irrigation system for monitoring canopy temperature.
The main barriers to adoption of new technologies in irrigation include cost and ease of use. These scientific methods need to be cost-effective and feasible for farmers to adopt. Today, using soil water monitoring equipment provides the most effective method for farmers to make data-driven irrigation scheduling decisions to apply the minimal amount of water while achieving optimal yields. However, the costs in labor and equipment limit their use. So, research continues to focus on developing lower-cost methods to schedule irrigation that results in putting on just the right amount of water. Since producers do not have time to do detailed work with large amounts of data often generated using SIS methods, the automation of SIS methods would likely provide incentives to producers by saving their time and, simultaneously, reducing the irrigation applications and producing optimal crop yield.

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The North Platte River — Multi-use Water, Part 2: The North Platte Project – Pathfinder, Guernsey and Whalen

Pathfinder dam, reservoir, and new spillway ogee weir.
When the Reclamation Act passed by Congress in 1902 and the United States Reclamation Service was created, studies were conducted to determine where water projects could be constructed. Initially, the Sweetwater River (Sweetwater Project) was considered to construct a dam at “Devils Gate” to provide irrigation water. However, insufficient flows in the river did not justify the construction of a dam. The Reclamation Service then determined that a dam would be constructed on the North Platte River in the Fremont Canyon approximately 47 miles southwest of Casper, Wyoming.

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The North Platte River — Multi-use Water, Part 1: The North Platte River Basin Projects — Background

Snow pack in the mountains of Wyoming. (Photo by Gary Stone)
The Platte River, then the North Platte River, and then the Sweetwater River were the series of water courses across Nebraska into Wyoming east of the continental divide for a pathway across the country that “followed the water.” This was the most traveled route across the continent for early trappers — the California, Mormon, Oregon, Overland and Pony Express trails. Over 400,000 people followed these trails to California, Oregon and Washington, bypassing the “Great American Desert”, not knowing that in the future — with irrigation water development — this area would be the breadbasket for the country.

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Considerations for Planting into Dry Conditions

As planting is critical for everything else that happens during the growing season, the dry conditions have led to a variety of questions this planting season regarding soil conditions, planting depth, irrigation and herbicides.

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