Is Drip Irrigation Right For Chad's Farm?
30 Mar 2321 min 41 sec

We're talking about irrigation, specifically subsurface drip irrigation. You have questions, so do we. Kurt Grimm with NutraDrip  is going to answer those questions because Chad Henderson is looking at the possibility of putting in subsurface drip irrigation on his Alabama farm. Does it work on all geographies? Does it Save Water? How deep is it installed? Do I need to change my farming practices?

00:00 Hey there, we're talking about irrigation specifically subsurface drip irrigation. You have questions. So do 00:06 we Curt Grimm with nutrigip is going to answer this questions because Chad Henderson is thinking about putting in some subsurface 00:12 drip irrigation. All right, you and I have talks it seems to me that the future is going to be if it's irrigated more and more of the subsurface drip irrigation. 00:22 It's more efficient use less water and you can make a very compelling case better for soil health and I'm not by showing any 00:28 other kind of irrigation, but that's your pitch. Is it true? Yes. Yes questions. Sure. Absolutely. So 00:34 yeah, we that we feel like there's an advantage we've Quantified some of those advantages we use less water. We don't evaporate we 00:40 feed and water the crop every day. So looking forward to having a conversation with Chad about his questions and questions and other girls would have. All right, Chad buddy. The first time I came to your 00:49 farm night. It was 2021 and you were putting in your first run of drainage tile. You said man, 00:55 I'm all new this Damian. I was gonna just start off with a couple of lines to get rid of a low spot next thing. You know, I got 40 AC 01:00 but this could be the same situation. I definitely feel like that when I was putting in a tile I was talking to ads about it, like look, I need three lines of tile 40 acres later. Here. We 01:09 are tallie. Yeah, so you keep you just kept growing and growing but you learned that pattern tiling took care of the bunch of Acres you got now Acres that you didn't think needed drainage 01:18 and it's like yeah, it's working better and I'm starting to see the results. If you do this sub-service drip thing you already 01:24 have irrigation right behind your house. You've got pivots this is gonna be a new venture. 01:29 Are you also have dry Corners that is blowing me up. I'm like wore out over dry Corners, you know, and this is not something like, oh, I'm just gonna put this drip 01:38 in a dry corner, you know, I need to know like I have some questions like Willis thing cross a tears, you know, and then I look at Kelly Garrett and it ain't even materials. It's like a mouth 01:47 piece look, you know, they're putting it down folks are in the winter. No, but you know, that's the kind of questions I got and would like to know you know, how long does it mean? 01:56 How long can we account for the use of it? You know, what's it good for is it good for five years or like a pivot is good for 25 years. Yeah. So Chad early through the questions out there. He's 02:05 talking about longevity. How long is it gonna work? Will it work on soil types? Will it work on different? Very geographies go. Yeah. So 02:14 so first of all, let's talk about the sloped ground. So when we have ground with elevation change and we can go up to 80 feet 02:23 of elevation change within a single zone. We have a pressure compensated emitter that puts out the same amount of water at the top of 02:29 the hill. As it does the bottom of the hill it has a little silicone diaphragm in it that regulates the water coming out 02:35 of that emitter. And and so it's going to put out the same at the top and the bottom. So that's what we use in a rolling topography where we got Terraces or Hills. So in a 02:44 tears, even at a spot where the tears ain't but you know 20 feet total and we it you know, and you guys 02:50 got a captain could be three feet that you can jump right over that and you can have that emitter there and it's okay. Absolutely. Yep. 02:56 So one of the steps in the design process is we'll pull in light our data or get elevation data off of your combine or shape 03:02 file and we'll actually engineer the field to fit or engineer the product that fits the elevation that feels products. Yes different products 03:11 were different. Yeah, I learned about that design the same way like like you say it with a towel deal. We learn the same design you 03:17 had a design map rotary and I'll photography. Yep same processes. All right. So I think one of the things he's also gonna probably get into is is the 03:26 same amount of water if you're going up this The pressure and the amount of getting his kind of like running a an HVAC line. Are we still getting there right amount of eating and 03:35 cooling at this end the building as we started off over here. And so that's kind of a big question, but you just talked about navigating elevation ever 03:41 a problem with that. Right? So one of the things in the design process is we look at uniformity are we uniform from the top of the hill to the bottom of the hill and all the 03:50 way in between there? And so we design around a parameter called, you know, uniform the feet 03:56 are application uniformity we and and that number needs to stay above 92% Most Center pivots for example are gonna be in that 70 to 04:05 80% uniformity and we're we're hitting for 92% or above in our uniformity. No so we can see that so when we have when a corn gets high, let's say 04:14 last year. We had a real dry year if you put it up in the Drone you can see zones and it's just just it's 04:20 just like the baby. It's just like what you would see, you know, not even yield map or topography map which you can see where the water 04:26 was and it's just the best the system do it's not anything against Dishes that dry that hot and it's just soaking 04:32 up the water in that area like that. So I understand exactly what you're talking about and I see those zones in the field. There's nothing I 04:38 can do about them. Yep. Yep. And so the other things we'll look at a soil type. So how how long how 04:44 much length loam or sand is in your soil clay? What's your soil type is and based on that. We'll we'll design the emitter 04:50 spacing and and the how far apart the drip lines are whether we're going on 40 inch centers 60 inch centers or maybe even 30 inch centers if you have some blow sand. Yep. So how 04:59 much water does it take how much water that's what I need to know that I got some whales that are good for about two gallon 05:05 a minute per acre now. Just miss me. Yeah. He's like I can't help you. But anyway, we're gonna work on it. So so we like to have five gallon per minute per 05:14 acre. That's our that's our optimum number that applies an inch of water every four days and we will set the system up to apply a quarter inch on every acre 05:23 every day. So every day that plant is getting water every day. It's getting fertigation if you're hurt a guy fertigating 05:29 Now we can also go with less. So if you don't have that much water a lot of Growers, we work with don't have five gallon per minute per acre. We can design a system at two gallon per minute breaker, 05:38 but you just have to understand instead of every four days to put an inch out it takes 10 days to put an inch out. So we're gonna put in soil 05:44 moisture probes and use the soil as a reservoir keep that soil full. So when you get those High evapotranspiration weeks where you're using a lot of water you can use the 05:53 water that's in the soil to make that out. So that's what we've learned about here gate in the last 10 or 12 years that we've been doing. It's not 05:59 about keeping it wet, you know, everybody's like, oh, you're not got enough water keep it it's not about that. It's about starting ahead of time to where 06:05 you can look at the sole profile. I want to take a shovel and I want to dig out there and really if I have if my irrigation practices, 06:11 right the dirt will never stick to the shovel. I won't dig all the way down. It's gonna be moisture all way down, but I don't ever want it to be wet because when we talk about Soul biology, 06:20 there's a lot of things going on and it's the overrun of water. It's Miss use of water really, you know, if you if you want to look at and 06:26 that's the thing that you are trying to focus on not doing right. So one of the things that guys don't think about is we got to keep oxygen in 06:32 the soil those rates have got to have oxygen biology has to have oxygen. So all those things require oxygen to live 06:38 and so we want to irrigate a little bit every single day don't ever saturate. It don't ever take it to the point of saturation where 06:44 we're going to be pushing water into a tile. So one of the questions we get is hey, I've got pattern tile underneath this house is my water just gonna go on that tile. Well, if you never saturate it 06:53 that water won't go down that capillary action will actually move it up and out. Yep. I agree. I I see that with David. I mean 06:59 that you farm Chad. We're out there at the TV guys and when you're cornfields the amount of water you use through the pivots is not actually that much. You said Amy, I'm putting like through the 07:08 course of the hardest hottest part of the Season like five or six inches off. Yeah, really putting you're not really putting that much. I mean 07:14 on a bad year it was eight or nine inches, you know, you know all the way through so once we get our soul wet and like and like hurt 07:20 yourself man, once we get the soul weight, then you can kind of maintain it. You know, it's this when you oh, I mean why didn't turn down for the last two weeks now when you catch up there's 07:29 way to catch you up. I don't know. I'm not 100% on this irrigation, but he can tell you if you get behind on irrigation a rain is only 07:35 way to catch you up. I mean you just you just can't you can't get enough there, you know in the growing season to catch you. Yeah, it's difficult. 07:41 It's so yeah, we we like to maintain moisture. We don't like to let things get way dried out and then try to catch back up because you that water won't move in the soil the same way those roots. 07:50 Yeah that soil cracks open it breaks the roots. So we like to maintain moisture rather than a big swings of moisture soil exactly. 07:58 Y'all know me, you know when I'm gonna do this if he messes around and we come down and we put some tile in and I buy tile and we put some drip tape 08:07 in and we get this going. Am I gonna plug it? Not am I gonna plug it? When am I gonna plug it? How can I plug it? What's what about 08:15 cleaning this? What about maintenance of it? I'm big maintenance guy, you know, I got it's gonna break. It's I mean, it's gonna break because it's 08:21 just what it is. So I got one more help. Well about two more. How long is it good for and how hard is it to maintain? What about 08:30 my water source? What's the things I need know about plugging this line. Don't do it filtration. And the 08:36 last and final question is, you know, I've been known to rip some ground up how deep we're gonna put it and can I rip? What 08:42 about my strip teal? Does this put me to strictly a no-till based? And I know this about four or five question but last but not 08:49 least cover crops talk to me about will it go down and fill the lineup? So now which one of them you first remember? 08:55 We may have to Circle back. But which one of you will first this ain't gonna be easy. Okay. So let's start with water quality. Let's start bogging. How long 09:01 does it last? So the very first step in the drip irrigation system is we need a water sample. What is the iron and manganese content of 09:07 the water and bicarbonates. Those are those are the kind of the three things and kind of the combination of those makes it harder if the 09:14 well has high iron and high manganese. We're gonna have to design a filtration system to take that out. We every system 09:20 has to filtration. But if we have high iron and high manganese, we're gonna have to have additional filtration to get that out. If we have high bicarbonates, we may have to inject some acid or do some things 09:29 to adjust the pH to get that bicarbon and knocked out a properly maintained drip irrigation system will last 25 09:35 plus years. We have a system near York, Nebraska that we do maintenance on that's 38 years old and it's still going just like the day was put in but they do you I didn't 09:44 even know we had drip irrigation. Eight years ago. He actually did. Yeah, it's amazing and they have really good water there and it's and it's a well maintained system. I'm a 09:52 drip irrigation system just like any other piece of equipment on the farm it needs to be maintained. So you start to steal you really need to talk about the 09:58 water the Water Source. We need to talk about where it's gonna be and what you're gonna put in it, you know as absolutely and 10:04 one of the other things I think about is surface water. So if a guy's got a pond or a river those water sources 10:10 are actually easier to take out the organic silt and and the organic material than it is to take out iron and manganese. So my first choice if I walked onto your farm and you had 10:19 either a well or you have surface water, I would go to that surface water every time first because of the way it stacks and 10:25 a carbonates are here and right quality is gonna be better in that environment. Like absolutely you do pull water out of creeks or ponds, right? Yeah, but if we're in 10:34 his situation, there's no way he's getting a creek. He's going straight in a whale it's gonna be about 10:39 One gallon per minute per acre and I want to water a hundred acres. You know, I'm gonna give him everything that he don't want. 10:45 Alright, so we just we just address water and we're gonna eventually get to economics but let's talk about then his practices he talked 10:51 about if he puts in cover crop or let's say he's got a really good year going on do we have issues of roots getting down because the subsurface drip tape is about 11:00 20 inches down. We're going 12 to 16 inches is our ideal depth so and and so and back to the tillage question so tillage we can do I like to 11:09 see six inches of separation from where the tillages to where the drip line is so over 16 you can tell to 10 so if you're stripping 11:15 no big issue there but if you say hey, I'm only going at six I'll probably like to put that drip at 12 because the shower we can get it the better we can touch those roots the better we can feed them. We want 11:24 to be right in that right in that that ideal root Zone. Oh that with that one when we're real quick note how much 11:30 of the water tries to move up versus how much tries to move down when we're talking about 15 or 16 12 or 15 or 16 kind of what's the 11:39 Age do you do we know that or is it more soul-based swords have based? You know, we show us a difficult question. Yeah, we should be grabbing 95% 11:48 of that water and the way we know that as we saw moisture probes that have a sensor every four inches and they go down to four foot so we can see where's that water coming out of the drip line, where's the 11:57 roots at? And is it in the water going below the root Zone and and if it's properly managed and again, that's why we're putting in 12:03 that quarter inch a day. That's what that crop is typically using in the middle of July or August that water is not 12:09 going to go down. It's all gonna go right in the root zone right in the plant. It just get just just get used to it. Yeah. Absolutely. That's a good question. Thanks 12:15 for talking about more scrutiny on our resource usage. If you're putting water out there. There's going down to your drainage tile. 12:21 You're absolutely accomplishing nothing in terms of the irrigation absolutely purpose of your engagement is to feed the plant right? And 12:27 so have you had issues like that? And is it an easy fix? So one of the things that we're measuring right now is nutrient Movement Like are we are we losing nutrients down 12:36 through the grip system into an island? Are coming up so that's probably the easier one to measure than actual water moving down. I mean, we've got some good studies going on and some pattern 12:45 tiled field and to this point on a properly maintained field. We have not moved nutrients into the into the drain tile 12:51 underneath of it. So then we talked about the The Roots getting in there. And so when is that been an issue because you've shown me the tape before Kurt, 13:00 it doesn't have it's not like a perforated tile. It's got very little openings has ever happened where you get the roots into the right. So the only time it's been an issue is in Alfalfa. So 13:09 a perennial crop that's that's their multiple years and where they have deficit irrigated. In other words. They didn't have enough water to feed the 13:18 crop. So as long as you're in an annual crop corn soybeans Rye we anything like that and and 13:24 we have enough water the roots are not going to go looking for it and won't go back for sure the emitter on the 13:30 other hand. So let's say we do get into a situation where they start looking for water and they go in there. We inject a little traffic land in 13:36 there. There's some things we can do to burn it out. So if it does get in there Can actually clean it up and remove those burn some Roots off 13:42 of fertility. That's what we're talking about. Is the send it guy we joke about that. He in our buddy Temple roads. Send it man. If there's if 13:52 five ounces is good 10 ounces must be better. Can he overdo it? Is there anything he can do with the subsurface drip irrigation? That's too much. He went he went 14:01 overboard. Yeah, so I would say probably the biggest challenge is over watering so that because you 14:08 if you over water you're gonna Leach water down and so a lot of Growers are challenged with the fact that the top of my soil is dry. It's rock hard on top. 14:16 But you got to get the shovel out and you got to dig down because down underneath there. It's an absolute perfect root environment. And in 14:22 that soil if you maintain it properly, it's it's just gonna be beautiful for those roots, but on top, it's gonna look bone dry. Yeah. So when 14:28 you say on top, you know, you want to walk down through the field and it's gonna be really hard for my dad. This is his theory on irrigate right 14:34 here. He says I said, so what you think when you turn the pivot on what you thinking, you know, I got this soil moisture probe. It's showing 80 percent blah. We're 14:40 good to go. He said, I don't know I walk out there this morning and I couldn't but it didn't stick to my feet. So I say turn it on that one not working you that will not 14:49 work for some service grip irrigation, right? And and so to the point though, we're not germinating weeds. We're not 14:55 evaporating anything. We're not losing any water. So when you think about the environmental aspect of being stewards of the water, it's a 15:02 much more efficient system. All right, so I didn't ask about 42 questions and no number 43. I'm forgetting 15:08 to Pivot now, you know, I like to I like late season portuguity. How does that change my Approach we got something in 15:16 the zones. Does this like efficiency? Is this a deal where you know, just like we're running a tuba two like a strip teal I cut my rate by, you know, all the way down to a third is 15:25 this the same idea can I cut my rates of fertility? And I know that's a load equation. But if I'm putting down top versus putting it out underneath does it 15:34 fertility the same or is it a 50 50 percent cut increase or decrease? Yeah. What? Yep. So 15:40 is that a fair quick? It's a fair question. Absolutely. So I would say at this point in in our knowledge base. We would say be similar 15:46 to what you're doing through the pivot. There should be some efficiency savings and we've got some guys that are starting to drive that nitrogen you see Fish and see down nitrogens. Probably 15:55 the biggest one that we see guys really dialing in the efficiency on with drip the other the other things though 16:01 that that there's an advantage to nutrients like phosphorus and potassium that are hard to move through the soil when we can put them in at 12 inches deep get that subsoil that subsoil nutrient 16:11 level up. There's an advantage. There now. How do we quantify that right? That's the challenge is how do we quantify how much more efficient is that? I can I'm 16:19 your man. I'll qualify that for you. Actually when when the chord just That's too much. Okay, we now 16:27 you know, I joke about that lot. I have never killed corn with potash or phosphorus. 16:32 But you know anyway, but everything else everything else, you know up. That's the things we want to learn. You know, that's what we 16:38 know because it's again here. We are talking on a serious note. What are we talking about? The last couple years sustainability efficiency. What 16:44 are we doing to do better to make more versus a strip tilling whether we're putting the tape on the ground. We're talking about water fishing now and then we're gonna 16:53 talk about fertility officially if I can cut my fertility that I fertigate 50% because in the roots only I don't see why I can't look 16:59 at what we've done again, and that's what it's all about as Farmers trying to do a better job of that. 17:04 And this is one of the tools we're going to use to do it. We're gonna wrap up here on the water usage because I we believe that nutrient 17:10 that usage is going to get more more scrutiny. You can make the case you use less water through drip than you do through traditional irrigation, you know, like in you know, running it 17:19 down the furrow or also pivot he said in an average year use maybe five or six inches through the pivot convert that to what you think you'll use if he puts in 17:28 your system. Yeah, roughly 20 15 to 20% less and it's gonna vary by year based on evaporation wind temperature. All those things are gonna vary but really 20% less 17:37 20% less water if water is tight now let's talk about money how much we talk about to put in the system and then you know ongoing yeah, 17:46 and let's say we had an average, you know, because you talked earlier. Hey, it could be is you know as small as 20 inches 17:52 of heart as high. Let's take that Middle Road. We had it. What is most people want is it 16 inches most people around with a piece of tape? So most of them are on 40 inch 18:01 I would say 80% of the systems. We're putting in her 40 inch. Seen so shape and size a field 18:07 and topography are gonna vary that cost. So I'll kind of throw a range in out there that of where most systems are falling. We're usually 18:13 in that 2000 to 2,500 an acre for a drip system. And then the Water Source would be on top of that. So the well or pump or whatever gonna have for the water that flies get the water to the 18:22 system. That's correct. Yep. So when you look at when you look at Roi you look at land values today, you know, if you can 18:28 if you can take land you already have an increase production 30 or 50% by adding drip irrigation versus going by 18:34 and more land that return on investment five to seven years maybe even less right now with the prices where they're at with commodities the way they are so you think we can do it on seven 18:43 years or less tell me and Chad if you're gonna start out if he's gonna start out. What's the right amount acres to 18:51 Put your toe in the water 50 60 160. What's the outside normal good starting point. Yeah, definitely over 40 if you get below 40, the cost per acre 19:00 is gonna go up because we've got those fixed costs in our filtration controls. So anything over 40 That's the 19:06 neat thing about drip irrigation. It's a it's a modular system that's scalable. So we got a system in Iowa. We did this year was 650 19:12 Acres one shot like it's a huge system. The guy just jumped right in he believed in the technology and jumped in. We also have guys that put in 20 acres. So 19:21 it's a it's a scalable system that we can that I feel it's not like a green bean, you know, it's all about, you know, you 19:27 go high the higher you go the cheaper it is it's all about that floor when you get that floor bigger, but you can't go but so that so with the scalable system. What is a good 19:36 number? I mean, is it that hundred hundred and twenty? Where does the math kind of out in there? Once we somewhere in 19:42 that quarter section is that good is where we're gonna start optimizing the size of main lines. The number of owls the 19:48 controller somewhere in that 16 Acres where things will be optimized. Got you got. 19:53 I like it. You know what we answer a lot of questions right there. We have also answer a lot of questions for you because let's face 19:59 it. I think the future's gonna probably see more drip irrigation. If you are in need of irrigation, this is probably going to be gaining 20:05 acres and you're seeing that right Kurt. That's right. Yeah, we have a lot of interest in all parts of the country right now a lot 20:11 of interest in guys being able to save water if you could buy land for $2,000 an acre today, you'd probably buy land. Yeah those days are gone for now. And so we got to figure 20:20 out how to do more what we've already got. Hey, my deal is the water, you know, it's harder to find water. You know, we probably drilled a hundred times to get tea and good whales so, 20:29 you know, when once you find water and then if I can find water then it's like, oh man now I can't believe it this size of pivot there instead of covering the whole field. It's an option 20:38 where you know instead of a three-bay David and I got a whale here that's got 500 gallon meaning. I'm like, well I could use 20:44 My water more efficiently in that that's that's kind of where my mind's going. Yeah, and we Farm in northeast Kansas South Southeast Nebraska. We have Center pivots on our farm and those pivots are 20:53 only covering 65% of the land-based they sit on so if we had and we're starting to adopt more drip irrigation on our farm and so as we do that, we're going from 65% irrigated 21:02 to 100% irrigated on those Farms. So absolutely using that water supply spreading out over more Acres. That's a big thing is you're gaining acres really by by the 21:11 whole system and you're obviously getting some efficiency and all that. You ready to do this chat. Are you ready to go Full Tilt? I'm ready. I'm ready. 21:17 I'm gonna get me a shovel. I'll give me a pick. I'll be ready to put the first line in myself. Remember, he's a 21:23 little bit obsessive Kurt once he gets going on something. There's no holding them back. So you better have enough manpower to get down there and start us all these 21:29 systems. He's currently in with nutrients. He's Checkers and you know him because he's always doing great videos and I'm David 21:35 Mason with extreme egg.

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