7 Years with Drip Irrigation: What Has Kelly Learned?
7 Apr 2311 min 57 sec

Kelly installed drip irrigation 7 years ago and it completely changed they way he farms both on his drip irrigated ground and on his dry land acres too. He joins Kurt from NutraDrip to share the lessons he has learned and the strides he has made since his first season with drip irrigation.

00:00 All right, we're gonna tell us subsurface drip irrigation and we've got an actual body of work if you will Kelly Garrett is 00:06 a first person I bet for Farmer that actually had some service drip irrigation. I was on your farm. I saw it and now we got results not just a Year's worth of results 00:15 seven years worth of results. Right? Right. So anyway, you're gonna tell us about what the person considering so 00:21 some service drip irrigation might need to know and we got hurt him here with the nutrib. Alright, he put his system in 2015 for 2016 season. We're 00:30 recording this in 2023. We've got some results obviously bigger yield you've used it for putting out nutrients. You 00:37 learned a few lessons. You've seen what maybe you might change in future and also what the benefits of some service irrigation 00:46 are. So tell us about that experience Kelly coming out of the drought of 2012 being a little bit of the control freak that I could be. I really wanted to find 00:55 an irrigation Source on a farm trip. I had heard about drip irrigation, you know. Google searched it on the internet and came up with drip 01:03 because we can't use a pivot with our Hills ditches Creeks Terraces. You know just that Topography is 01:09 the word that we've always used didn't allow for a pivot. So drip was the only answer it took me from 2013 01:15 until 2015 and 15 to find Kurt and and go forward with the project. You didn't you didn't go Full Tilt. You didn't 01:24 do it on all your Acres but you put in a significant enough Acres that it's a it's a good it's a good result. Like you can 01:30 actually say hey this works on because right behind your shop and how many acres you have we started with 80 acres and now we've 01:36 expanded to 370. We have another couple hundred acres in the talks to go forward with here in the next couple years, by the way. I know you were there I went to his farm and I said if 01:45 this property was in my part of the world, we put a chair lift don't even call a resort. I mean you're talking about some pretty steep stuff clearly Center pivot irrigations are not an option, 01:54 right certainly not flood irrigation because the water would all run down the road, right? Yeah. It's definitely A challenging landscape, there's grassback Terraces 02:02 something that we had never encountered and in our work and so it was a challenge but we figured out a way to design it pressure compensated emitters can 02:11 go up and down those Hills and it irrigates and fertigates uniformly. So did you make any mistakes? Oh sure. 02:17 We've learned that that's always that's the challenge of work. Right? We've got to get a learn figure out how to do things better and how to 02:23 do things differently. All right. So the system that's at Kelly's is obviously got topography. You know, you're talking about some major slopes 02:29 was getting the pressure dialed in a big concern it was so the well is that the bottom of the hill I think we started a hundred and 02:35 ten pounds of pressure at the bottom of the hill. We push it up to the top the valves are the top of the hill. I think they're at 20 pounds of pressure. These 02:41 Hills are steep enough that we actually have to worry about overpressuring the tape. So there's a lot of a lot of design criteria 02:47 that went into into that that design to get it right. What about using it as a delivery system for nutrients. We shot a video talk about putting calcium 02:56 products and some other things more on products out. Did you start off the very first year doing? That was that sort of a learning curve? No, we started off the first year doing 03:05 it. I remember telling Kurt. Well, this is the reason we put it in. Let's put something in it that I didn't even have an idea what to put in it. 03:11 Then Kurt made a couple suggestions. We started fertigating with it. That was one of the first lessons the second lesson was how 03:17 much water to put on per day, you know, I now only put on a tenth of an inch of water per day, I won't go over that at one point we talked and we tried to go up to like a quarter inch a 03:26 day because of evapotranspiration all we ended up with a saturated soil a tenth of an inch a day is enough. We've learned that we've learned about fertigation. Now we've learned about our water water 03:35 isn't just water. We have a lot of bicarbonates in our water. So now we've learned to test the water and treat the water because you'd like to get the most out of that fertility dollar 03:44 and the bicarbon it's in the water tie up the fertility. So now we're treating the water to let the fertility 03:50 be plant available. Those are be the three key lessons that we've got so far Kelly Kurt and I shot a video with Chad 03:56 about this subject about plugging this You know, is it particulous, you know sediment that's coming out of your water reservoir. I 04:06 mean one of your Fields you feed it from a pond I was there. Do you have that problem? Do you plug this stuff up? We have not ever plugged ours up. If you start to if it 04:15 starts to plug up you need to run acid through it I of course with my plant food by product is an acidic product. So that really 04:21 cleans it as it fertigates, but you just need to run acid through it. I was very nervous about plugging in at the beginning. It's much more forgiving 04:27 than I thought it would be we have not had a problem and we just you just got to pay attention to what you're doing. Is that a middle block Kurt because 04:33 we see the product is right here. It's got just this little teeny. I mean you're talking about a pinhole that comes out of it and the person like me don't say well a piece 04:42 of silt a piece of clay a piece of algae. I mean whatever it's a hard thing for me to think about that that little teeny pinholes not gonna plug. Yeah. So the the filtration 04:51 is designed such that it filters particles that are larger than that opening. So we spec the filtration for 120 mesh. 05:00 It'll go through 120. Mesh. It'll go through that emitter. So we're gonna filter that out. And then the second step of that is we have to be able 05:06 to flush the system. So we have to be able to flush the drip lines because we're not going to get everything out. There's gonna be some stuff settled out in there. So we increase the 05:12 velocity in the drip line to actually clean it. And so that's part of the maintenance that rip system but it's still teeny little hole Kurt. It's 05:18 just a teeny little hole a lot of stuff could plug that. Yeah, so it's actually more than a hole. There's actually any midterm is what we 05:24 call it where there's a labyrinth if you if you can see the little zipper pattern here the water actually enters down here, 05:30 it goes up through a zipper and comes back out and it weeps out this hole. So inside here, there's a the water is swirling 05:36 like a little tornado and and so it and this is designed to get particles to pass through. So that's part of the design of how they engineer the 05:45 drippers and it's an incredible technology that allows those little bitty particles to come on through. I gotta tell the viewer. I 05:51 just learned that and we've done this before I thought it was like one of those soaker hoses on your garden. You just want to do it like yeah. Okay. It's got some 05:57 holes boom. There goes elaborate. A labyrinth that's quite a word. Wow. That's that. So right here. We've got a blown up version of an emitter. So this 06:05 is the emitter that's that's on the inside of the drip line. And so it lays in like this 06:11 and in the water actually goes through another little filter here. So the water passes through this and then it goes into this zipper 06:17 looking pattern and it swirls in here comes all the way through. So it's starting at 15 20 pounds of pressure coming through here by the time it gets to the opening. It's gonna be 06:26 at zero pounds of pressure and it's just gonna drip out through the through the wall of the drip line This is a pressure compensated 06:32 version. So again blown up this is not the real side, right? Is that kind of like on a cereal box that says the prize in here is not real size. That's right. That's the similar 06:41 concept. So inside here is a is a silicone diaphragm and is that diaphragm gets more pressure behind it. It pushes against this opening. And so that opening is 06:50 larger or smaller depending on how much pressure so that's how it's regulating pressure as you 06:56 have varying topography or very pressures in the drip line. That's pretty fascinating. All right, you don't have a comparative. 07:04 base you don't have Centerpivity irrigation units to compare it to you. Don't do flood irrigation. Like they do down in Arkansas where match fields 07:13 are slaz a pancake. How would you compare it? You've never had any other kind of irrigation. So do you say this is the best or do 07:21 you say is the only one that works for me? Clearly that's the case and he sort of like thoughts of what else 07:27 you would do. Well, it really is the only choice for me. But also when you look at like the surface water I'm using the irrigate, you know, I look at that as a 07:34 very sustainable resource of water because otherwise it's just running away. We're capturing that water putting it back on the hill and if I had to Center pit of it 07:43 or something like that, it wouldn't be a big enough source of water. Does that make sense? So we're able to capitalize on a lot of surface water and irrigate 07:49 a lot more acres in a very efficient sustainable manner. Current I can make here. Okay, I 07:57 currently talking about the and by the way, I'm geeking out on what you just showed me there. Okay, let's talk about the actual dollars and cents in the bushels in the 08:06 bin is this made you a better Farmers it made you yield. I mean clearly it does make you yield. Is it making you money? Let's go 08:12 through the actual ramifications that the person right now saying, all right, but in my opinion on a corn crop, we're adding 30 to 08:21 40% yield on a bean crop. We're adding 35 to even 50% yield to a bean crop. So, yes, it pays back very nicely not 08:30 only does it pay back very nicely the security of knowing what you're going to get. You're almost like Self insurance. And and so these acres for me really are research acres 08:39 and the things we learned from there on the inferral fertility to foliar applications things like that. We then take 08:45 and scale to the rest of the farm because of the data we get from there is tremendous because again the security of the situation security 08:51 meaning you can guarantee an outcome you can guarantee a result. You know that come hell or high water. You're going to get a result on those crops. No 09:00 Sabers absolutely money. I know I was bringing up but it's important. You know, what farming is a business. He's in business. When does the payback how long is it gonna take him to get 09:09 his money back. It's it's your seven or you're eight. Now we're going into is he made his money back? Yeah, three to seven years 09:15 with commodity prices where they're at. Today. We're probably on the low end of that. But if we get back to Three Dollar corn, we're gonna be in that 09:21 seven year payback problem. How about we look at it this way. A couple thousand bucks an acre. Yep, a couple thousand dollars an acre 09:27 to put in drip irrigation. Which is 20% the cost of land absolutely land costs $10,000 an acre two thousand 09:35 dollars for the drip, but I'm adding 35% to my yield. Yeah, 20% cost 35% yield and I know it's gonna be there. It's a no-brainer. Yeah, 09:44 and then we talk about depreciation. I know we're talking about the business side of it. You can run this as you can depreciate this out just like a piece of equipment. Yeah, exactly. And 09:50 then speaking of true depreciation. When is this system? When is this system going to be like kaput done need to replace it? Yeah. 09:56 So we've got systems in Nebraska. We have one that's 38 years old. We still do maintenance on and it's still running like it was put in so proper maintenance proper good water quality. And 10:05 then if you don't have good water you get a treat the water. So that's a nice story. You know what I remember hearing this big deal about a guy 10:11 that drove a Mercedes a million miles. That's not normal. What's normal 38 years is not normal, right? 25 to 30 years is normal. 10:17 Okay, fantastic. So you got your one third the way through one third of the way through got it. What's the closing lesson on this? You know what you're sold 10:26 on it. You've been putting more Acres of some service trip. Station and I will be putting more everything some service 10:31 Irrigation in and this is like I talked about all the time. There's more net money in doing better instead of always trying to do more. 10:37 This is doing better on the Acres. I have the noise trying to expand less equipment cost. If we go do more we're 10:43 gonna have to buy another planter buy another combine we do this for hire a person or higher person Manpower is kind of exactly on 10:49 the countries. This is doing better. Is that the value proposition is that listen? Maybe? You 10:55 can't get into their hired man. Maybe you can't get another Thousand Acres because land's tight or it's too overpriced or whatever 11:01 the value proposition here. Frankly is do more on the Acres you got absolutely that's what's driving. Our growth right now is is guys 11:07 want to do more with what they already have and if you could buy land for two thousand dollars an acre be a different conversation, but right now that's not possible. Is there any permitting 11:16 is there anything that maybe like the person that's around the fence right now says I will do that but I've got to go get approved 11:22 as early is very difficulty in that. Yeah, so it's it varies by state and by geography and we have experience. Most states and so we can help with with permitting processes. 11:31 Some states are very simple. Some are very difficult. So it really depends on where the grower how many states current of you worked at. I think we're at 12 States. We've installed in 11:40 got it. His name is Kurt Grim with neutral drip and the system is in place. If you have more questions at Kelly Garrett's Farm in Aryan Iowa. My name is Damian Mason from extreme 11:49 mag. You had questions about irrigation. We answer them.

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