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.
In the landscape, October is the month to water, control weeds, and plant bulbs, trees and shrubs. It is also the month to wait until after a freeze to cut back perennial plants and wait for the soil to freeze before covering tender plants with winter mulch. Kelly Feehan, UNL Extension Educator, provides the following information.
Sometimes people ask if trees and shrubs should be watered at this time of year since their leaves will soon drop off; and how late in the season lawns should be watered. As long as the soil is dry, go ahead and water. Plant roots continue to grow long after leaves drop off trees and shrubs and after grass stops growing. Roots, rhizomes and stolons can grow well into November and fall watering promotes this growth helping plants recover from summer stresses. Plant energy can be used for root growth during fall since energy is no longer needed for leaves, flowering or seed production. Roots continue to grow until soil temperatures drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit with available moisture.
Water enough to moisten the soil to a depth of about eight to twelve inches for trees and shrubs and six inches for lawns. Keep in mind that a lack of oxygen due to a saturated soil is just as damaging to roots as a lack of water. Allow the soil to dry between watering.
Because roots continue to grow well into fall, September through October is a good time to plant deciduous trees and shrubs. For spring flowering bulbs, wait until soil temperatures drop to 60 degrees Fahrenheit to plant.
A common question asked about fall planting is if a starter fertilizer needs to be used at planting time. Starter fertilizers are high in phosphorous, a nutrient important to root production. The only way to know the answer to this question is to have a soil test taken. However, most landscape soils are high in phosphorous (P). Fall soils are often warm and dry which makes P more readily available. In most cases a starter fertilizer does not need to be used during fall planting.
More important is to plant at the correct depth. With bulbs, follow label directions for planting depth. It varies depending on bulb size. Some recommendations say to plant about one to two inches deeper than recommended. The opposite is true for trees and shrubs. Before planting trees, locate where the trunk flares out at the trunk base then plant at a depth so the flare is visible above ground. Do not loosen the soil beneath the root ball or the tree may settle and end up planted too deep. In heavier clay soils plant so the trunk taper is one to two inches above the ground.
October is the best time to control perennial broadleaf weeds like dandelions, ground ivy and clover. There is no ideal time during fall to apply lawn weed and feed products together. The best time to fall fertilize lawns is in early September and again in late October or early November. The best time to apply herbicides for lawn weeds is about mid-October before a hard freeze.
Weed control can be more effective and less herbicide will be applied where it is not needed by avoiding the use of combined weed and feed products during fall. One can achieve better weed coverage and control of established broadleaf weeds if the weeds are spot treated, typically with a liquid formulation of herbicide.
Here’s wishing you a great October of accomplishing landscaping projects!
Do you have a passion for building strong and resilient rural communities? Do you think about the future and what is in store for rural people and places? If so, I’d encourage you to plan on November 3-5, 2013 at The Cornhusker, A Marriott Hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska for the 2013 Rural Futures Conference and participate in the dialogues around these very issues.
The theme for the 2013 Rural Futures Conference is Beyond Boundaries, which encourages all of us to step beyond our typical boundaries and work together to create positive rural futures. While moving beyond boundaries can be challenging and even ominous, it also provides the unique opportunity to implement a foundation of collaboration that can impact the future of rural people and places. The upcoming conference will celebrate the importance of rural and create energy and enthusiasm for new and innovative ways to address complex opportunities and challenges. From University faculty, staff and students to community citizens and organizational partners, don’t miss the opportunity to transcend boundaries and collaboratively make a difference.
One of the greatest resources in any organization or community is its people. When we think about rural places, there is no doubt that the people and leadership in rural America is a driving force for progress. There are several opportunities for you to be involved in and even contribute content to the 2013 Rural Futures Conference. We encourage you to share your knowledge and expertise at the conference to help us explore new ideas, discover synergies, and facilitate partnerships. Please consider being involved in one or more of these opportunities during the conference, and encourage others to become involved as well.
Quick Pitch Spotlight: Conference participants rapid fire their “big idea” for rural people and places.
Community Questions: Communities of place or interest pose questions that stimulate collaboration and potential research opportunities.
Faculty and Partner Poster Session: Participants display current work or research relevant to the rural futures.
Registration opens September 1, and will remain open until the seats are filled. Registration closed early last year because maximum capacity was reached, so register early to ensure your spot. For more information or to register, visit ruralfutures.nebraska.edu/conference.
The sun has been welcomed and crops are rapidly growing in South Central Nebraska! Corn right now is between V6-V8 (6-8 leaf) for the most part. Quite a few farmers were side-dressing and hilling corn the past two weeks. It never fails that corn looks a little stressed after this as moisture is released from the soil and roots aren’t quite down to deeper moisture.
Installing watermark sensors for irrigation scheduling, we’re finding good moisture to 3 feet in all fields in the area. The driest fields are those which were converted from pasture last year and we want to be watching the third foot especially in those fields. Pivots are running in some fields because corn looks stressed, but there’s plenty of moisture in the soil based on the watermark sensor readings I’m receiving for the entire area. So we would recommend to allow your crops to continue to root down to uptake deeper moisture and nitrogen.
The last few weeks we observed many patterns from fertilizer applications in fields but as corn and root systems are developing, they are growing out of it. We’ve also observed some rapid growth syndrome in plants. This can result from the quick transition we had from cooler temperatures to warmer temperatures, which leads to rapid leaf growth faster than they can emerge from the whorl. Plants may have some twisted whorls and/or lighter discoloration of these leaves, but they will green up upon unfurling and receiving sunlight. This shouldn’t affect yield.
Damping off has been a problem in areas where we had water ponded or saturated conditions for periods of time. We’ve also observed some uneven emergence in various fields from potentially a combination of factors including some cold shock to germinating seedlings.
We began applying sugar to our on-farm research sugar vs. check studies in corn. We will continue to monitor disease and insect pressure in these plots and determine percent stalk rot and yield at the end of the season.
Leaf and stripe rust can be observed in wheat fields in the area and wheat is beginning to turn. We had some problems with wheat streak mosaic virus in the area again affecting producers’ neighboring fields when volunteer wheat wasn’t killed last fall. Alfalfa is beginning to regrow after first cutting and we’re encouraging producers to look for alfalfa weevils. All our crops could really use a nice slow rain right now!
It’s wonderful receiving the rain we did, seeing how quickly planting progress came along, and how quickly corn is popping out of the ground! Being mid-May, it’s time to get our Evapotranspiration (ET) gages out. A reminder to only use distilled water in the gages, make sure to fill up the ceramic top portion of the gage before inserting the stopper, and gently dust off the ceramic top and replace the white membrane and green canvas cover. We recommend replacing those membranes and covers each year so if you need a new one, please let the Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) or me know and we’ll get you a new one! For those of you recording ET information online, please be sure to do so consistently each week to help your neighbors and crop consultants.
Early after crop emergence is the best time to install watermark sensors. For those of you with watermark sensors, read them to ensure they read 199 kpa (dry). Then “prime” them first by soaking them for 24 hours in water to ensure all the air bubbles have been released. The sensors should have a reading of 10 kpa or below to be considered good. If they read higher than that, either continue soaking them another 24 hours and read them again, or plan that they no longer are reading correctly and replace them with others from the NRDs. Remember after soaking sensors that water moves up into the PVC pipe via capillary action, so be sure to dump the water out of the pipe as well.
When installing the sensors, be sure to install them wet, drain excess water, and look for areas that are not compacted, avoid tractor wheel tracks, and look for even spacing of plants. Carefully install without breaking off any plants (thus easier when plants are small!). It’s also important not to install sensors into extremely wet fields. What we have found is that a thin soil layer can cover the sensor when pushing it into the soil of very wet fields. When that soil layer dries, it can provide a reading of 199 saying the sensor is dry when it truly isn’t. If this happens to you, simply remove the sensor, rewet for one minute and re-install. It should be acclimated to field conditions within 48 hours. If you have any questions regarding the installation process, please let the NRDs or your local Extension Educator know. You can also view videos of the installation process and receive additional information to answer your questions.
November 1 is just around the corner-the beginning of when fall fertilizing occurs in this area of the State. Hopefully many of you have taken soil samples as excess nitrate is to be expected after this drought year. This is an excellent time to consider evaluating your nitrogen program by starting an on-farm research trial!
On-farm research is using your own equipment, in your own fields, over single or multiple growing seasons allowing you to determine the most economical, efficient, and sustainable practice for the production of irrigated and/or dryland crops on your own farm.
What are the soil fertility questions you have for your farm?
Right now, with fertilizing on producers’ minds, we’re hoping you will consider a soil fertility study. We have several example nutrient protocols including the UNL N fertility rate compared to +/- 30 lbs, and considerations for nitrogen timing studies such as pre-plant, sidedress, or fertigation. You can view all these plot designs by clicking on 2012 protocols. If you are planning on applying anhydrous this fall, be sure that the anhydrous strips are the correct width, as the corn must be harvested and weight determined in a correct manner next fall.
When designing a nitrogen comparison you need to remember nitrogen is a mobile nutrient and corn roots will spread laterally. Therefore, the width of the treatments must take this into account and compensate for it. If you have a 16 row nitrogen applicator and an 8 row corn head, you will need 32 rows of each nitrogen rate. Each 32 row strip must be repeated 4 times. At harvest, in each 32 row block, you must record and weigh the center 16 rows with two separate weights i.e. 8+8 . This is done for statistical analysis purposes. Without statistics, you cannot determine if differences between treatments is the result of the nitrogen rate or because of soil variability.
What’s in It for You?
On-farm research in your own fields allows you to find answers to the questions you may have. We all read articles or hear presentations about various practices and products. The question is “Will it work on my farm?“. That’s what on-farm research allows you to find out!
UNL Extension Educators and Specialists are here to help you design your on-farm research trials, help you with data collection, and will statistically analyze the data for you at the end of the season. Correct plot setup is critical to reduce any error in favoring one treatment over another (because we know fields are variable and some portions of the field will yield better than others). The statistical analysis is another tool which helps us determine how much any yield differences between treatments are due to the treatments themselves or to chance.
So if you have an idea you’d like to try, please contact any of the UNL Extension Educators or Specialists working with on-farm research! The Nebraska On-farm Research Effort is a partnership between the Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, and UNL Extension.
On-farm research may sound daunting, but today’s equipment makes it easier than ever. It does take a little extra time, but our farmers conducting on-farm research feel the value of knowing the results of a study on their own piece of ground make the effort worthwhile.