May 10, 2010

Can you grow more corn with less water?

That question – growing more corn with less water – is pondered (and answered) in the latest CornsTALK newsletter from the Nebraska Corn Board.

The newsletter is available online and is included in the May edition of Nebraka Farmer, which is hitting mailboxes now. You can also download the newsletter here (.pdf).

The answer to the water question is most certainly yes – and that's backed up by multiple, in-field research projects. At the same time, using less supplemental water saves money while giving farmers an opportunity to be a better steward.

Some tremendous research into water use is going on across Nebraska – and the results are dramatic and demonstrate that it’s possible to reduce water use while maintaining yields.

What researchers are learning is how to quantify changes already adopted by many farmers across Nebraska – and discovering what farmers can do to be even more efficient.

For example, expanding conservation tillage, better irrigation timing and converting the few gravity irrigated acres to pivots would reduce water use by 107,000 acre-feet in one Natural Resources District. That’s a 37 percent reduction without any impact on yields.

All of the research highlighted in this issue of CornsTALK is already in practice on some fields throughout Nebraska – and can be easily adopted by those looking to become more efficient, reduce their impact on the environment and save a significant amount of money in energy and related costs.

(FYI - More than 85 percent of corn acres in the United States are only rain-fed. Less than 15 percent are supplemented with irrigation. Irrigation is more common in Nebraska, but that is not the case across the Corn Belt.)

Related articles:
Water conference highlights progressive efficiencies, challenges ahead
Nebraska farmers know water-use efficiency
Technology, knowledge improving water management
Irrigation, livestock water use lowest since 1970s

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