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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Irrigation switch leads to water award

  • Greg Goering of Inman recently switched from flood irrigation to sub-surface irrigation on 150 of his farm acres, a move that saves 25 percent of his water use and won him a Water Conservation Award.
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  • Greg Goering of Inman recently switched from flood irrigation to sub-surface irrigation on 150 of his farm acres, a move that saves 25 percent of his water use and won him a Water Conservation Award.
    Flood irrigation uses pipes at the end of fields to flood waterways between rows of crops, while sub-surface irrigation emits smaller portions of water underground.
    The piping, or tape, is plowed in with a Global Positioning System. The tape connects to pipes buried on each end of the field. The garden hose-sized tape is put in 16 inches beneath the soil. The tapes, which stretch across an entire field, are 60 inches apart.
    Along the tapes are emitters spaced 12 inches apart, which release water. This feeds the rows of crops on either side.
    The tapes also allow the ground to soak up more rain water on the surface and prevent weeds from growing.
    "I kind of questioned (water conservation) at first," Goering said.
    He was using a pond to catch rain water, but the recent drought would have caused him to go over his water permit for the year. He stayed underneath that limit, however, and has his full permit for 2013.
    "The benefit of having the tape irrigation was very evident in the last two years," he said. "With drought conditions, I would have over pumped my water permit. The tape irrigation enabled me to stay under my water permit and still raise a good crop."
    In addition to conserving water, the switch at 11th Avenue and Kiowa stops erosion, requires one-fourth of the labor, results in less disease and uses more efficient electric power.
    The project is ongoing. The biggest obstacle has been preventing plugging of the tape with iron bacteria, due to poor water quality in the area.
    Goering plans to set up two 16,000-gallon water tanks on the site. Each tank of water will be treated with chlorine before the water is pumped through the tape in order to kill the bacteria.
    Even though the project has been challenging, Goering said he would do the project again.
    "Even with the problem with iron bacteria in the water, this project has many environmental benefits, such as conserving water and (preventing) erosion," he said.
    Heartland Irrigation aided in Goering's switch to sub-surface irrigation.
    "I'm honored to receive (the award)," Goering said. "I don't feel like I did anything special. It's something a lot of farmers are starting to do."

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