Soil moisture probes are vital in determining when and how much water and nutrients to apply to your crop with your subsurface irrigation system. One of the frequently asked questions we get is how to properly place a soil moisture probe so it is giving relevant information on the amount of moisture that is being put in the soil. In this post, we discuss how to properly install a soil moisture probe, explain the variety of models available for use, and the benefits of soil moisture probes and why they are a great tool in your toolkit.
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!
Today we will be discussing soil pH. Last week we had a call with Jason Shley from Next Level Ag in South Dakota . We were looking at some soil samples we pulled a few weeks ago; they ran them through their lab and learned a lot of information, including a few things we hadn’t seen before. One of the questions that came up in that call was “what is our soil pH at varying depths?”. Today we are going to the field and testing the soil with a handheld soil pH tester every inch to find out the answer.
Sulfur burners are a solution to one of irrigation’s largest problems. In this post we discuss what sulfur burners are, why we need them and how to use one. If you prefer to watch this in a video form, here is the link to our YouTube video of Kurt Grimm discussing sulfur burners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgOWi5d4iDg
Sulfur burners are a new piece of technology to our area that we are excited to work with. We have about 8 units out in use right now and are really starting to see some benefits of how this technology can be applied in the corn and soybean irrigation market, specifically for growers that are looking to optimize their water use efficiency and get the maximum amount of nutrients through their irrigation water and make them available to the plant.
One of the basic things we need to understand in irrigation is that not all water is created equal. Water has bicarbonates in it; think of bicarbonates as glue. As you apply irrigation water season after season, day after day, you are applying water that has bicarbonates mixed in; those bicarbonates act as glue and bind soil particles together and bind up nutrients. This is showing up in a lot of places where they have been irrigating for 20 or 30 years. Growers are seeing higher yields outside of their pivot or drip irrigation system than they are inside their irrigated ground. They are reporting that the water is not moving correctly; the soil looks compacted, and all kinds of other symptoms show up as those bicarbonate levels build and accumulate over time.
We are using sulfur burners to chemically change the properties of the soil to release those bicarbonates and make those nutrients available again. The sulfur burners we have been using are by AguaDulce (Sweetwater Sulfur Burner). There is a bin that holds dry sulfur prills, and beside that there is a burn chamber to burn the sulfur. On the other side of the unit, there is a venturi that inducts the sulfurous gas off of the fire into the water, and chemically it releases bicarbonate through the exhaust and changes the pH of the water. There are a lot of benefits to using a sulfur burner, but the main one we are looking at right now is the ability to lower pH; not only of your water, but also your soil. If you are in a high pH environment, this is going to release nutrients.
All who attended our grower meeting were able to receive a better vision of their practices and goals to me more profitable in the upcoming years. From our team of high yield growers an invaluable amount of information and research was shared to all who attended. If you were unable to attend live or via our webinar or want a refresher we hope you will glean from our recorded videos and presentations.
Join us in Wanatah, IN on August 20th
Weren't able to make it to AgPhD Field Day? NutraDrip will be joining Brian and Darren Hefty and other high yield speakers in Princeton, IL on August 13th. This event will compliment AgPhD Day and bring the same type of learning opportunities to the Princeton, IL region.
Learn more HERE on the Hefty website
For 30 years K-State and principal investigator Freddie Lamm have researched Subsurface Drip Irrigation. From their research projects, we have been able to learn a great deal. Within the past couple of years we have gotten the privilege of working with Netafim and Freddie on this research project in Colby, KS. We have been invited to join this field day on August 7th and hope you will also join us.
"We have learned much these past 30 years and we would like to share our thoughts with you and also hear about your successes and challenges as well. We will focus on strategies to make SDI last, make it pay, optimize crop production and make wiser use of our limited water resource." - Freddie Lamm
Preregistration by JULY 30th is required!
find us in Baltic, South Dakota on
Brian and Darren Hefty have created the opportunity to compare multiple irrigation methods on one site. In the spring of 2017, NutraDrip installed a small drip plot at their site. Now you can get a look at how drip compares to pivot irrigation, sub tile irrigation and dryland crops.
During the classroom sessions drip irrigation users and NCGA winners,
Kelly Garrett, Dan Luepkes and Kevin Matthews
will be discussing high yield corn and soybeans.
Find full event details @ http://www.agphd.com/ag-phd-field-day/
July 25th 2019
August 7th 2019
August 20th 2019
August 23rd 2019
August 30th 2019
September 5th 2019
Ag PhD Day
SDI Technology Field Day
Grower Success Day
Netafim Precision Planting Day
NutraDrip Grower Success Day
Join Us September 5th, 2018
We will be touring one of our drip fields in Steen, MN. Following the field analysis will be a meal!
Starting at 11:00am
1172 Minnesota 270
Steen, MN 56173
Please RSVP Below.
Join Us September 7th, 2018
We will be touring one of our drip fields near Falls City, Nebraska. Following the field analysis will be a meal!
Starting at 11:00am
712 648 Ave.
Verdon, NE 68457
Please RSVP Below.
July 25, 2018 Sheldon, MO "Row Crop Classic"
July 26, 2018 Baltic, SD "Ag PhD"
August 3, 2018 Pontiac, IL "Precision Planting Field Day"
August 14, 2018 Wanatah, IN "Regional Field Day" Featuring Conklin AgroVantage and NutraDrip SDI
September 7, 2018 Steen, MN "Bosch" Field Tour & Lunch
September 7, 2018 Verdon, NE "Rush" Field Tour & Lunch
August 3, 2018
We had a good time at the 2018 Grower Meeting in Hiawatha, KS. We heard from many really great speakers on topics ranging from critical planting and emergence tatics for 400 bushel corn, tissue sampling uses and results, drone use in agriculture, fertility scheduling and tools, and many others. We hope you can join us next year!
Below is one presentation from our meeting to give you a taste. Steve Killpack is the presenter and he is covering emergence to stage V6 in corn.
We hope to see you at one of our booths near you! There may be a few more shows that we are at so check back with us. Or send us an email about a show you regularly attend.
Registration and Event at:
14401 S. 700 W
Wanatah, IN 46390
(It is not too late to join, but please let us know if you are coming.)
Kurt Grimm farms in northeast Kansas, where average rainfall is 28 inches, but variable weather stress still eats into valuable yield. “With irrigation, we are able to raise the bar on yields from 160 to 240-260 bushels per acre consistently, year after year,” he says.
Ten years ago their farm was less than 5% irrigated; today it’s about 25% with desire to go higher. Currently they have 500 acres of pivot irrigation and 50 acres of drip. “We're going to install more drip in the years to come as grain prices improve. And we have to build ponds and reservoirs to irrigate since we cannot drill for water,” Grimm says.
Click on the article below to see all the winners, or use scroll bar on the right.
Find NutraDrip at a show near you!
Topeka Farm Show
Sioux Falls Farm Show
Sioux Falls, SD
Iowa Power Farming Show
Des Moines, IA
Columbus, NE Farm Show
We are hosting a field day here in Northeast Kansas. The pork chops will be great and might be worth the drive!
Here are some other dates and locations that may be closer to you and will get more details out as we get closer.
August 4th, Becks Seed, Effingham IL. We installed this system this spring and they are testing water efficiency with pivot vs drip vs tile sub irrigation. This is the local field day for the regional Beck’s plot
August 18th, University of IL, Champaign, IL. Dr. Fred Below has a wealth of knowledge and is always great to hear what he is learning with his drip system.
August 19th. Dan Luepkes field day, Oregon IL. Dan is in his second year of drip with 200 acres in the ground. He achieved 300 bpa yields last year and is looking at even higher yields this year! This will be a great opportunity to see the potential with SDI. 100 acres corn and 100 acres soybeans
August 30th-Sept 1st. Farm Progress show. Visit us in the Netafim booth.
Sept 2nd, Kelly Garret, Denison IA. Kelly has a challenging site in the Loess Hills of EC IA. The 74 acre site will show the adaptability of SDI, and how we can drive yields higher even in the rain fed corn belt.
Sept 3rd, (tentative) Tony Bosch, Steen, MN. This is the first year for this 80 acre system. Details in the works.
Sept 13-15th. Husker Harvest Days. Visit us in the Netafim booth.
Hope to see you along the way!
Join us for a field day on Friday, August 19th, 2016 at the Dan Luepkes farms, just south of Oregon IL. I think it will be worth your drive. Bring neighbor, friend, crop adviser, etc.
A bit about the site….
We installed 100 acres for Dan on a cut-up property in the winter of 14/15. He planted it all to corn in 2015 and averaged 300 bpa! We went back this spring and installed another 100 acres. This year his goal was even higher. He did have some pollination issues so won’t be breaking records, but looks to be higher than last year. The new system we installed this spring is in soybeans so this is a great opportunity to see both corn and soybeans. We plan to have a root pit on the corn to view the interaction of roots and tape. The field is very sandy. Dan pumps out of a small reservoir that he built on a stream running through his farm.
We plan to spend an hour or so at the field and then head to town for lunch and will spend an hour or so on the agronomy that goes along with drip irrigation. To give you a taste, we have developed a nutrient guide that is customized for every field and gives us a weekly guide for fertilizer needs. We follow that with weekly tissue sampling to verify if our plan is on target and make real time adjustments to the nutrient plan. These tissue samples give us a trend of what the nutrients are doing.
We have a lot of information to share and would love to see you there. If Friday doesn’t work, there is also a field day on Thursday the 18th of August at University of IL, Champaign. Dr Fred Below will be showing off his work with SDI and the trials they have in research plots. Also will be at Farm Progress, Husker Harvest, and field days at Denison IA on Sept 2nd and Sioux Falls SD on Sept 3rd.
NutraDrip can help you operate your system. This works best if you have chosen the automated version of controlling your system. We install soil probes to monitor moisture throughout your field. These help us decide when to start and stop watering. Fertigation is also managed based on factors such as soil tests, target yield, and crop uptake. We can check tissue samples of the crop to identify potential limiting nutrients. Other factors that we can monitor remotely include water flow and pressure.
Many factors go into a well designed SDI system that will last for 20+ years. Some of the big factors are listed below:
Many of the parts we use in our SDI Systems come with manufacture warranties from Netafim. They include the following:
|Air Vents: Nylon||5 Years|
|Water Meters: Bodies||
|Steel Sand Media Filers||
|Thinwall Driplines: 10,13,15 Mil Typhoon 630/875||
|Thinwall Driplines: DripNet PC||
Please visit with your local rep to learn more about the parts warrantied on your SDI system.
Tim Wolf, Crop Application Specialist with Netafim will cover developing an agronomic plan for drip irrigation. We will also discuss soil moisture probes and fertilizer selection, calibrating your injection pump and other considerations for optimizing your yield with drip irrigation. Feel free to bring your crop consultant, agronomist, or any others interested in drip irrigation.
February 25, 2016
10:00 a.m. - Noon
Meet at: Pederson Seed
900 S 1st St.
Hiawatha, KS 66434