Along the Fencerow

A few weeks ago, our family took a trip to western Kansas to pick up some calves. It is always an interesting change of landscape as we head west to the wide open spaces.

We observed that the wheat deteriorated as we neared Dodge City and irrigation wells were already pumping water to crops.

I visited at length with several irrigation specialists from Kansas State this week and their major theme is “irrigation scheduling” for obvious reasons of being dry.

Due to the drought, I thought there were more acres of irrigated wheat planted in that area of the state than normal.

As we get more concerned about water conservation, farmers will be in the mode of monitoring crop-water use more than ever. When profit margins compress, the more farmers know how to become more efficient, the longer they can maintain profitability.

Due to irrigation scheduling, factors such as monitoring rainfall, crop needs, weather factors (humidity, wind speed, and temperature), and soil moisture all play a major roll in keeping track of our water usage.

We are fine-tuning our agriculture irrigation practices to assure that we have water for our children and grandchildren. The biggest challenge will lay in the Ogallala Aquifer in western Kansas versus here. But farmers and homeowners need to do their part.

Electrical resistance blocks to measure soil moisture will become a popular item. It may be something that homeowners should use for their lawn and gardens as well (due to expense, it may be an item to share with a neighbor or the neighborhood).

Resistance blocks aren’t that expensive, but the meter can set you back about $250. If used the right way, it can save hundreds of dollars within the first year. A word of caution: gypsum blocks don’t work well in sandy soil types.

Bradley Goering can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 620-327-4941.

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