Category Archives: Irrigation Scheduling
March 10th marks the third annual Nebraska Ag Water Management Network Conference with 2016 being the 11th year since the Network was formed! If you’re interested in learning how you can better schedule your irrigation in addition to learning about the latest in irrigation research from Nebraska Extension, consider attending this free event!
Have you ever wondered what fair price could be charged for the water your pivot delivers to an adjacent neighbor’s field? Or have you wondered what it would cost if you changed to a different fuel source?
The Irrigation Cost calculator was first developed by Tom Dorn, retired Extension Educator, and was a tool I used and recommended to farmers and landlords in various situations such as those above. The tool has now been redesigned as an online tool with updated numbers built in. Data is entered by you for your operation and calculations are made on a remote server. You can then choose to save your data for later reference or to input various options to compare costs. Calculated output includes fixed and variable costs calculated per-acre and per-acre-inch of water applied. The following information is from Roger Wilson, Extension Farm Management Specialist and Budget Analyst.
To use this tool, you’ll need to gather some key information:
- Operating data such as interest rates, wage rates, area irrigated and inches applied, diesel price or electricity rates, and drip oil price. (Energy costs may be estimated from pumping lift, system pressure, and pumping plant efficiency or from historical data such as past energy costs, past fuel prices or electrical rates, and past application rates.)
- Ownership costs such as the estimated replacement price, expected life and the salvage values for the well, pump, power plant, gear head, and sprinkler system.
Fair Share Feature for Adjoining Parcels
After these costs have been calculated, you can use the “Fair Share” feature to estimate the cost for running a center pivot over adjacent land. Additional data needed for these calculations are the number of adjacent acres to be irrigated and the estimated acre inches that will be applied. The “fair share” can be calculated on the added acres irrigated or on the amount of water applied. This feature has two components: fixed and variable costs. The fixed cost is an annual cost and the variable cost is for acre-inches of water applied.
Mobile Apps for Irrigation Management
Earlier this year UNL Extension introduced three mobile apps to aid in irrigation management, which are described further in UNL CropWatch in the links below:
Agriculture Irrigation Costs App. Calculates ownership and operating costs for center pivot and gated pipe irrigation systems and the most commonly used energy sources. This tool is based on the same resource as the Irrigation Cost Calculator web tool described above. The Web app is a “quick and dirty” means to calculate costs, while the mobile app offers more options for testing and analyzing various options. The mobile app offers side-by-side comparisons for systems that use different energy sources, analysis of gated pipe as well as center pivot systems, separation of landowner and tenant costs, and calculating yield increases necessary to pay for application of an extra inch of water.
Irrigation Pumping Plant Efficiency. Helps you identify irrigation pumping plants that are underperforming and need to be adjusted, repaired, or replaced with a better design.
Water Meter Calculator App. Calculates the amount of water pumped by irrigation pumping plants and can store data such as field size (in acres), flow meter units, and allocation and annual irrigation caps for each field.
Rod DeBuhr with the Upper Big Blue NRD spoke at a few meetings recently. He shared there’s a lot of rumors floating around, but if you have questions, please just ask the NRD. There will be no well drilling moratorium and no restriction on adding new acres in the District. The only exception to this is if the allocation trigger is reached, there will be no new transfers. The UBBNRD encompasses 1.2 million irrigated acres and 57% of the water is used on only 29% of the acres; thus there’s still some inefficiencies within some producers’ operations. These are producers using, on average, more than 8” since 2007. The average water use since 2007 is just under 8” for the District.
Flow meters are required on all wells by January 1, 2016 or by when an allocation is triggered-whichever comes first. The first allocation period is 30” of water for 3 years. They will then evaluate where the water levels are. If recovery doesn’t happen after the three years, then there will be a second allocation of 45” for 5 years.
For flow meter specifications: all new meters must record in acre-inches. They must also have an anti-reverse feature on them. They must be installed based on the manufacturer recommendations-no exceptions. Existing meters are grandfathered if they are determined to be accurate. There is no cost share on new meters, but there is some cost share for repairing old meters. Please contact the UBBNRD at (402) 362-6601 for questions or more information.
Daryl Andersen with the Little Blue NRD also shared some information with me. These rules are effective as of January 17, 2014, which were put in place in 2006 or sooner. For well constructions and flow meter requirements as of Mar. 2006, new or replacement water wells to be used for domestic, stock, or other such purposes shall be constructed to such a depth that they are less likely to be affected by seasonal water level declines caused by other water wells in the same area.
Any new irrigation well or water wells for all other uses except municipal, domestic, public water supply, or livestock are required to have a minimum of 10 times the pipe diameter of clear space in the discharge pipe to allow for potential installation of a flow meter at a future date. There are some exceptions if a new meter is installed during the time of well completion; please contact the LBNRD at (402) 364-2145 for further info. Spacing between all new irrigation wells should be set at 1000 feet.
Nitrogen fertilizer restrictions include: Pre-plant anhydrous ammonia may not be applied prior to November 1. Pre-plant nitrogen fertilizers in liquid or dry forms may not be applied prior to March 1 except under the following conditions: a “Fertilizer Permit” will be required by the LBNRD prior to fertilizer applications, a nitrogen inhibitor will be required if applying over 20 lbs of active nitrogen/acre and an annual report will be required by March 15 of each year if receiving the “Fertilizer Permit.”
For the Clay/Nuckolls Water Quality Sub-Area: Two new rules were enacted March 1st, 2013 along with all of the prior rules. First, water samples need to be collected from all high capacity wells by the producer, delivered to LBNRD and NRD will analyze it for nitrates for 2013 and 2014 growing season. Second, water pumpage report is required from all wells for all producers in 2013 and 2014. Report can be hour meters, flow meters or other devices. Please contact the LBNRD for additional questions.