Budget woes lead to weather station closures

graphical representation of weather station locations (image credit: https://mesonet.unl.edu/)
Leading into the sixth year of appropriation shortfalls, Nebraska Mesonet weather stations that are not contracted specifically by clients are slotted for closure to cut costs and reduce labor overhead.

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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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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 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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Maintaining Your Septic System

What makes a good septic system?

A properly designed, constructed, functioning and maintained septic system protects human and environmental health. This includes, but is not limited to surface water, groundwater and soil quality in the immediate vicinity of the proposed onsite wastewater system site. A good habit to adopt is an annual inspection of and maintenance of your onsite wastewater system to help ensure a well-balanced, working septic system.

Wastewater 101

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Waste to Worth 2022: Is waste, just waste when it has a value?

photo of monitoring and water sample collection station for phosphorus levels
This year I had the opportunity to attend Waste to Worth 2022, a conference by the Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Community (LPELC). We had three tour options, and I chose the tour on alternative technologies and treatments. Very different experiences, scenarios and lessons were learned during the tour.

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2022 Bazile Groundwater Management Field Day on June 30

Northeast Nebraska farmers and agricultural professionals will learn about tools they can implement to mitigate nitrogen loss at the 2022 Bazile Groundwater Management Demonstration Field Day. Hosts for the day include Lewis and Clark NRD, Lower Elkhorn NRD, Lower Niobrara NRD and Upper Elkhorn NRD and local Nebraska Extension Water and Integrating Cropping Systems extension educators with funding provided from the Nebraska Environmental Trust. Speakers will address important tools that can be used to mitigate nitrogen loss. The BGMA Demo Field Day is scheduled for Thursday June 30, 2022 southeast of Creighton, Nebraska (From Hwy 59 and Hwy 14 Junction, go three miles south on Hwy 14, then one mile west on 869 Rd and a ½ mile south on 523 Ave.). The field day will start with registration at 1 p.m. with the educational programing starting at 1:30 p.m. and ends at 7 p.m.

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Nitrogen Fertilizer for the Lawn, Not the Street

Fertilizer spilled on concrete
Fertilizer spilled on concrete. Photo by Brad Jakubowski, Penn State University

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Meeting Water Needs of Cattle in the Feedlot

 Figure 1. Crowding of cattle around waterers on hot days is common in feedlots and adds to the challenge of ensuring water access to all animals (Courtesy: Dr. Rick Stowell, University of Nebraska, Lincoln).
Various factors affect water intake; but temperature, humidity and feed intake are the main drivers. Additionally, the first heat events of the season (late May and early June) are the most stressful on cattle: cattle are generally reaching finishing weight and condition, they are not acclimated to heat, and they have not shed their winter coat. This transition also catches managers and staff off guard as they are focused on late-winter yard management.

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Waste to Worth Tour Piques Interest in Nebraska Replication

In April, I traveled to Ohio to attend the Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Community’s Waste to Worth Conference. A highlight of this year’s conference is that the first day we all got to tour area farms and businesses that are doing great things with manure or other waste products.

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