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SDI in the Great Plains​

Executive Summary for USDA Special Grant

Water Conservation –Increased Efficiency in Usage

Freddie Lamm, Research Agricultural Engineer, K-State Research and Extension
January 24, 2000

What is K-State doing in this Special Project?

Developing procedures to estimate the life of subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) systems.
Evaluating utilization of livestock wastewater with SDI.
Developing BMPs for nitrogen fertigation using SDI systems for corn.
Investigating the economics of SDI and other advanced irrigation technologies.
Transferring the technologies through publications, websites, conferences and field days.

Why K-State?

Kansas is the 7th largest irrigated state with nearly 3 million irrigated acres
Primary source is the declining Ogallala Aquifer
920,000 acres of lower efficiency surface irrigation that would be ideally suited to SDI
Commitment by K-State since 1989 to be the Great Plains science base on SDI
Active faculty of Irrigation Engineers, Soil Scientists, Ag Economists and Crop Scientists

What are some 1999 highlights and impacts of this project?
SDI and livestock wastewater utilization

Research results indicate it can be successful. Still investigating longevity.
Cooperator installed SDI system to handle wastewater from his 20,000-head beef feedlot.
Annual KS. beef lagoon runoff of 18,000 acre-ft could irrigate 12,000 corn acres worth $5 million.
Potentially, SDI can take a nuisance or hazardous waste and utilize it to create a financial benefit.

SDI comparison to center pivot sprinkler irrigation (CP)

Under full irrigation, SDI and CP corn yields were 288 and 264 bushels/acre, respectively.
This 24 bu/acre yield advantage will easily pay for the increased investment costs associated with SDI.
SDI treatment applying 53% less water than fully irrigated CP treatment still resulted in a 260 bu/acre.

SDI and economics

The value of annual water savings associated with widespread adoption of SDI on currently furrow-irrigated areas in western Kansas has been estimated to range between $175 to 350 million.
The associated investment costs might approach $400-500 million but could be amortized over the estimated 10-20 years SDI system life.

SDI and technology transfer

High producer interest with 500 producers attending K-State events devoted solely to promoting SDI.
Single topic SDI events serve dual purposes of technology transfer and feedback to K-State.
Irrigation surveys indicate 1300 acres are being converted annually to SDI in Kansas.

What steps does K-State use to ensure relevancy and nonduplication?

Active involvement of faculty in professional societies by discipline.
Peer review of journal publications and grant proposals
Reviews of current literature and research in progress
Participation in regional, state, national and international irrigation conferences
Collaborative discussions with researchers in Israel
Feedback from producers at single topic SDI events
Participation in USDA regional project W-128 concerning microirrigation
Serving as tri-editor of revision of reference book about microirrigation

What is a potential long-term impact of this project?

In a widely distributed AP newspaper story, one SW Kansas irrigator is quoted as saying he "wished SDI had been available 30 years ago, so that further water savings could have been made". K-State is recognized nationally and internationally as the place to go for information about usage of SDI on corn.