April 19, 2010

Nebraska farmers know water-use efficiency

Water is the theme in the upcoming issue of the Nebraska Corn Board’s CornsTalk periodical newsletter. The many stories highlight the increased efficiency that farmers gain by adopting deficit irrigation on corn, conservation practices, and/or different methods of water application. All of these stories highlight technologies and practices that producers continue to adopt or utilize in their farming operations to increase water efficiency.

But another common theme that relates to efficiency in water use, not included in the CornsTalk, is discussion about what corn genetics have done over the many decades.

Whether it be increased fertilizer efficiency, nitrogen fixation or drought tolerance, millions of dollars are spent annually by biotech companies looking for the next big breakthrough. Specifically, in discussion about increasing water use efficiency, farmers continue to look at drought tolerance as this next advancement similar to what Bt or herbicide-tolerant corn did not long ago.

But those in Nebraska can argue that we are already on our way. A map that was released by the University of Nebraska shows the percent of normal precipitation from 2000 – 2009. This map shows areas that were above normal on precipitation.

However, the majority of Nebraska – especially as you look at the main, non-irrigated corn counties, such as Cass, Otoe, Cumming or Lancaster – were at or below normal in precipitation in this time period.
Now, compare this to non-irrigated yields during this same time frame and you will see that yields jumped 77 percent. That’s right, non-irrigated yields went from averaging 84 bushels per acre to 149!
With the information in the upcoming CornsTalk publication, along with the above analysis, farmers continue to prove they are increasing their efficiency and maximizing yields per unit of input.

Just goes to show farmers are Sustaining Innovation!

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