Soil and Water Conservation Society Honors 2023 Award Winners

Four leaders in Nebraska resource conservation and the Nebraska Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) were honored by the International SWCS this year.

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Manure Stockpiles: Mind Your Manners

manure stockpile with markup showing where to place a dike
As responsible land stewards, farmers, who follow “good neighbor practices,” may save on commercial fertilizer costs while at the same time protecting groundwater from contamination due to nutrient leaching. Properly stockpiled manure stored on field edges can be a “win-win” for farmers and their rural neighbors through addressing two common concerns: runoff and odors.

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Irrigation Season to End in September

Center pivot in field
A review of this year's irrigation season in the Panhandle and crop water use expectations for Aug. 28-Sept. 3.

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Manure Spreader Calibration is Not Just for Research Plots

photo of manure on tarp during manure spreader calibration
Just like a spreader used for commercial fertilizer, a manure spreader must also be calibrated. If you don’t know the rate you’re applying, how can you possibly calculate the nutrients you’ve applied? And if you’re not factoring in the nutrients in the manure, you’re wasting money. And who wants to do that?

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Optimize Those Last Few Irrigations

Scheduling the last few irrigations of the season deserves extra attention because the goal is not only to focus on keeping the crop wet enough to produce optimal yields, but also on using up stored soil water. Leaving the field a little drier at the end of the season will save irrigation costs, decrease leaching losses, improve soil conditions for harvest traffic, and save water for future years. Growers also don't want to miss out on capturing off-season precipitation.

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Know Your Well program empowers students to understand local water quality

Access to quality water is critical. Testing can indicate whether water is safe for people to consume. Know Your Well is a program used to test well water across Nebraska at no cost to the community, while teaching local high school students valuable skills.

In the past seven years, Know Your Well has been implemented in more than 28 school districts throughout the state. The program has received funding to grow to 50 or more schools over the next few years and expand its curriculm.

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Irrigation Scheduling Application to Conserve Water Resources

Pivot irrigation system
Agriculture today is not what it was a decade ago. We are at an interesting pace of agricultural technological innovation and development in sensors, controls, robotics and technology, including irrigation scheduling applications. The declining quantity and quality of freshwater resources in many parts of the world, including the United States, imposes significant challenges for producers, managers, advisors and decision-makers to produce more yield with less water. It is necessary to promote sound management strategies to improve irrigation efficiency and conserve water resources. By using irrigation scheduling applications, producers can make more informed decisions that can lead to higher yields with fewer irrigation inputs. Nebraska is one of the top states that produces maize under different irrigation methods, in third place after Iowa and Illinois. The total irrigated area in Nebraska reaches about 9.3 million acres. More than 85% of the total irrigation areas use the center pivot irrigation system, while about 15% is covered by furrow irrigation and less than 1% is managed by subsurface drip irrigation systems (see fig. 1). A new irrigation scheduling application is being developed to improve irrigation scheduling that can have a substantial impact in using limited water supplies more effectively and increase yield per unit applied of irrigation water and sustain agricultural productivity. At the request of Irriga Global, Lutry, Switzerland, a field test was initiated for the 2022 growing season on maize fields to evaluate the irrigation scheduling application in one of the Irrigation Today.

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Nebraska Water Center Researchers Conduct Statewide Project to Characterize Nitrogen Transformation Beneath the Ground Surface

How nitrogen moves and is changed in the soil is important to help protect Nebraska's groundwater from contamination. However, these changes are not fully understood. To help understand these processes, a research team led by Dr. Arindam Malakar, scientist and research assistant professor in the School of Natural Resources and the Nebraska Water Center part of the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has begun a statewide study to uncover nitrogen transformation in the vadose zone.

Continue reading about their project across Nebraska.

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Boost Landscape Appeal with a Curb Strip Garden

Many urban landscapes have a forlorn narrow planting strip between the curb and sidewalk, otherwise known as a “hell strip”. Healthy curbside plantings help filter and absorb rainwater, preventing landscape fertilizers and other pollutants from entering storm drains.

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Using Water Resources More Efficiently

Nebraska is no stranger to dry spells, especially during the summer months. Unfortunately, we have been experiencing longer year-round dry spells in recent years that are becoming more severe to deal with. While using water more efficiently is always a good habit to adopt, it becomes more critical during times of drought, even if restrictions are not mandatory yet.

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