Monday, August 22, 2016

BLOG: Resolving Water Issues

By Steve Mossman, Groundwater Foundation Board Member

As Secretary of The Groundwater Foundation's board of directors and a lawyer with an active water law practice, I read with great interest a recent article in the Washington Post about the historic heat wave currently ravaging the Middle East.  The article noted the probability of extreme water scarcity caused by saltier groundwater due to rising sea levels.  Importantly, the article noted the role of water scarcity in causing conflicts among human beings including the recent Syrian civil war and refugee crisis. 

Here in the United States, we are blessed with the opportunity to resolve our water issues with legislation, collaboration, negotiation, and if all else fails, litigation.  While all of these processes involve countless meetings and stressful hours, they beat the alternative methods of actual fighting over the most precious natural resource – water – which may continue to be a part of the unfortunate global reality. 

Here at The Groundwater Foundation we are doing our part.  At recent Board Strategic Planning sessions, we reviewed our Mission Statement to “educate people and inspire action to ensure sustainable, clean groundwater for future generations.”  In this mission, we want and, need, those precious community partners to ally with us to avoid the intractable problems that plague other nations over a resource that can’t be seen.  And, we define community broadly to encompass, well, everyone.  Whether you are an elected city official, a business leader or a parent concerned about the health and future or your children, you can join with us. 

To that end, please visit The Groundwater Foundation’s website at www.groundwater.org and learn about our programs including our flagship Groundwater Guardianprogram.  Please join The Groundwater Foundation and help us collaboratively protect our most precious natural resource.


Let’s work together on the important mission of The Groundwater Foundation.  
____________________

Steve Mossman is an attorney with Mattson Rickets law firm in Lincoln, Nebraska specializing in the areas of natural resources and environmental law, solid waste law, water law, and agricultural law. He also serves as Secretary for The Groundwater Foundation's board of directors.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Searchable Resource Library


By: Jessica Wheeler, The Groundwater Foundation 

Are you looking for a fun, hands-on educational activity about groundwater? Check out The Groundwater Foundation’s new searchable resource library featuring nearly 70 easy to use activity instructions, curriculum guides, how-to videos, crosswords, word searches, coloring sheets, and more! These resources and activities are perfect for use in formal classrooms, extracurricular programs, community outreach events, and more! Search by:

  • Age
  • Duration
  • Key topic (i.e. - water cycle, irrigation, contamination/pollution prevention, etc.)
  • Category (i.e. - arts and crafts, outdoor, messy, etc.)

You can also search for activities and resources by name, such as “Aquifer in a Cup.” Results display an image of the activity, the activity name, a description and link to how-to videos (if available), and a link to additional details and to download the instructions.

Check out this tool and let us know what you think by completing a brief survey!


Support for the development and launch of this online resource library was provided by a Public Information and Education Mini-Grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust, administered by the Nebraska Academy of Sciences.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Save Water, Increase Yields with Closer Spacing

by Jose Fontela, Senninger Irrigation

In the mid 80's Senninger worked with researchers at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research &
Close spacing combines bubbler sprinklers with
conservation tillage.
Extension Center to release the first Low Energy Precision Application (LEPA) sprinkler.  This technology was developed for center pivot irrigators in the western high plains of the United States who were affected by high energy costs and declining water availability due to dropping water tables or dwindling surface supplies. 

LEPA systems use low-pressure bubbler heads to deposit water directly into furrows just 8 to 18 inches above the ground. With the heads closer to the ground, the water avoids the hitting leaves, so it does not come in contact with plants and fruit susceptible to water borne diseases and nearly all of it is absorbed by the soil. In fact, researchers and growers have found that with these low pressure heads, at least 20 percent more water reaches the soil compared with conventional spray nozzles.

What began 30 years ago as LEPA has evolved into one of the most effective irrigation methods known today for center pivot systems ‒ close spacing. Close spacing has been a proven success in many dry regions across the US.  It is an irrigation method based off LEPA that is gaining ground in areas where water is regulated and people are increasingly concerned about diminishing natural resources. The reason why close spacing irrigation is gaining popularity among growers in America is simple ‒ growers are saving water, saving energy, and seeing increased yields. 

Furthermore, this high-performance technology works at low pressures, which makes it ideal for reducing energy and pumping costs, as well.  

A Closer Look
Close spacing combines the use of the same water-efficient LEPA bubbler heads with conservation tillage. Just as in those LEPA applications, close spacing heads are mounted 8 to 18 inches above the soil to combat wind-drift and prevent evaporation losses.  Both methods require nearly identical management practices and provide similar benefits.

The close spacing method, with 30 inches
between heads.
Close spacing started to take shape among North Texas growers who experimented with combining LEPA technology with conservation tillage, and began placing bubbler heads on every row.  In traditional LEPA systems, sprinklers are placed 60 inches apart to irrigate every other furrow.  The close spacing method, with 30 inches between heads, distributes water over most of the soil surface.  The crop residues left over from previous growing seasons helps prevent evaporation loss and run-off and holds the water until the soil is ready to soak it in.  As a result, close spacing technology achieves application efficiencies typically exceeding 95 percent.

Making It Work
Success with close spacing depends on three key factors: the right irrigation equipment, the right farming practices and the right field conditions. 

Senninger bubblers made for LEPA have proven to be the ideal sprinklers for getting the most out of close spacing irrigation.  They operate at low pressures ranging from 6 to 20 PSI, using less energy than conventional low-pressure sprinklers, and operate using fewer gallons per minute than conventional spray nozzles ‒ approximately 0.27 to 21.18 gpm. 

Bubbler sprinklers deposit water
directly into furrows, which avoids
wetting the foliage.
There are two types of bubbler sprinklers currently available.  One creates a narrow, aerated stream of bubbling water that resists high temperatures and strong winds. This sprinkler deposits water directly into furrows, which avoids wetting the foliage.  The other deflects water down in a wide, dome-shaped pattern that gently delivers the water without spraying, which is ideal for germination, low crop watering and sensitive soils that are prone to compaction.  Due to its less concentrated distribution pattern, it can be used on fields without furrows and on some rolling terrains.

Because close spacing sprinklers are mounted 8 to 18 inches above the ground, this method works better on relatively flat farms. The maximum recommended slope for fields considering close spacing is one percent. Circle planting allows bubblers to be centered in furrows, which is ideal for further controlling run-off.  It is used by growers who also want to prevent wetting the crop canopy when taking advantage of close spacing applications.

The versatility of bubbler sprinklers provides the opportunity to combine various components to suit different crop and soil needs.  Some growers, for example, combine conventional spray heads with bubble applications at various crop stages. Others alter the spacing on the first few spans, vary the sprinkler height off the ground, and even alter the application rate by irrigation cycle. 

For more information about close spacing and LEPA sprinklers, visit www.senninger.com.

Sources:

About the Author: Jose Fontela is a Copywriter and Digital Marketing Coordinator for Senninger Irrigation, a Hunter Industries Company based in Clermont, Florida. He can be reached at jfontela@senninger.biz.