Ever wonder if subsurface drip irrigation is actually worth it? Kurt interviews Brenden Hirt while installing his second field of drip irrigation. They cover why Brenden chose drip irrigation, yields, maintenance of his drip irrigation system and water supply. Read on for a summary, or watch the video:
Who are you and what do you do? Brenden Hirt, farmer near Garnett, KS. I raise corn, beans and cattle with my dad, grandpa and brother. Getting started farming in this area takes a lot of money, but we really enjoy it, so finding ways to maximize yields is important. This is one of the reasons drip irrigation is a good fit for us.
Farming practices: Dry land until installed subsurface drip irrigation in one field about four years ago. Mostly no till, except some vertical tillage in corn ground to help the ground warm up a little faster.
This is your second drip irrigation project, tell us about the first one you did. We put it in about four years ago; the first year I had beans, and they were really good for this area. They averaged around 83-84, which is about double the average crop here. The next year we did corn, and it averaged 302 which is between two to three times what a good crop would be for this area. We have had it on corn the last two years, and it has been better than what we used to, but not as good as the first year. It averaged 200-220 both times. So far drip irrigation really helps; obviously here in this part of the world, our biggest limiting factors are water and heat, especially for corn. I think corn can handle the heat somewhat if you can get the water to it. That is what really excites us; an efficient way to get water right to the roots, and then you can add the nitrogen and any fertility you need. It really is a no brainer for us here.
One of the questions we get frequently from those interested in subsurface drip irrigation is how hard is the system to operate and maintain? What has been your experience with that? It has been pretty simple; we might have a leak or two in the spring time, which isn’t too hard to fix. It is pretty straightforward once you get the basics of running your fertilizer in it; no issues so far.
Tell us about the water supply here in this area: what are your options for water? The only option we have is building a pond; there is no groundwater that I know of, and if there is some, it is salt water. So, the only option is catching that excess runoff water that you usually get plenty of at the wrong time of the year.
Thanks for you time, Brenden, and for sharing you experience with us. We are looking forward to another successful season!