From The High Plains Journal (Dave Bergmeier):
Open-minded, common sense individuals matched with hands-on technology are making a difference in the drive to conserve water in the Ogallala Aquifer.
Those individuals are thriving at Northwest Kansas Technical College, Goodland, Kansas, an institution that has a history of regularly raising bumper crops of entrepreneurs. The latest addition is irrigation management. In 2016, NWKTC’s Precision Ag program launched its Water Technology Farms project to promote the adoption of various irrigation management technologies to help producers in that region, said Weston McCary, director of Precision Agriculture and UAS Technologies at the college.
Students welcome the opportunity to learn how to use new techniques to preserve groundwater, McCary said, adding that is essential for agriculture and agricultural-related businesses in the High Plains…
“The biggest thing to me is the moisture probes,” [John Gower] said. “There’s data to show that if you do have a moisture probe, if used to its full potential and you trust it, you will save money on pumping costs and cut down on the water usage,” said Gower, whose major is in precision agriculture with an associate’s degree in applied science. “They can now grow as much corn with less water usage. It is hard to argue against success.”
Variable rate irrigation scripts also help producers to address topography and to keep water from running down ditches, he said.
Matching those VRI scripts with a soil probe in a well-maintained pivot system can help producers to be more efficient and preserve precious groundwater, he said. Gower is also working with McClain on a precision planter and the soon-to-be graduate wants to be able to follow a passion of improving planting equipment for producers and also farming.