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Managing Nebraska’s Precious Resource
Nebraska is blessed with an abundant supply of high-quality groundwater. But while Nebraska is the nation’s leader in irrigated acres, Nebraska corn farmers are continually seeking ways to grow more corn with less water. Through the use of precision technology, soil moisture monitoring tools and on-farm research initiatives, Nebraska corn farmers are finding new and innovative ways to preserve and protect our precious water resources.
Nebraska corn farmers continually seek out ways to reduce water use, increase water efficiency and grow more corn with less water. Water-saving technology being used by Nebraska farmers includes:
Soil Moisture Probes Help farmers know how water is behaving below the soil surface.
On-Field Weather Stations Provide remote, real time weather data so farmers know what’s happening on their fields, rather than relying on a weather station that may be dozens of miles away.
Flowmeters Give farmers remote access to real time information on how much water they are applying to their fields throughout the growing season.
Pivot Telemetry Allows farmers to remotely monitor and control irrigation systems using their cell phones, improving efficiency and reducing labor costs.
Electro-Conductivity Mapping Provides a better understanding of soil types and textures, which affects irrigation decisions.
Variable Rate Irrigation Uses data from field mapping and pivot telemetry to change the speed of the pivot to adjust the amount of water applied on different parts of the field.
Nebraska Irrigation Facts
- Nebraska leads the nation in irrigated acres, with some 70 percent of the corn produced receiving water from irrigation at some point during the growing season
- Nationally, about 14 percent of corn acres are irrigated – relying solely on what Mother Nature provides through rainfall
- Nebraska’s irrigation capacity allows the state to serve as one of the world’s most reliable and abundant suppliers of high-quality corn year after year
The Nebraska Corn Board helps fund a wide range of research projects and partnerships focused on improving water efficiency and water quality and reducing water usage including:
Testing Ag Performance Solutions (TAPS) An innovative competition created by Nebraska Extension that pits farmers against each other as they manage a real corn crop from the comfort of their home office. https://taps.unl.edu
Project SENSE An initiative of Nebraska Extension designed to help farmers determine exactly when their crop needs nitrogen fertilizer and how much. The states Natural Resource Districts (NRDs) have also been leaders in Project SENSE, which focuses on monitoring and managing levels of nitrogen in groundwater. https://cropwatch.unl.edu/farmresearch/articlearchives/introducing-project-sense
Aquamart An initiative of the Nebraska Water Balance Alliance. Aquamart leverages grassroots networking, precision technologies and best practices to create a blueprint for individual farmers to follow as they continually strive to improve their management of water. www.aquamart.org
The Nature Conservancy An innovative partnership between a leading environmental group and agriculture advocates designed to help Nebraska farmers employ technology to reduce the level of nutrients entering the Mississippi River system and the Gulf of Mexico. https://www.nature.org/en-us