NU Water-Related Research in Morrill County

The list below shows water-related research being conducted within your district or that affects your district. They are sorted by water topic, then by primary contact's last name.

Displaying 20 records found for Morrill County


Topic Crop Water Use
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Hergert, Gary
Unit Panhandle Research and Extension Center
Email ghergert1@unl.edu
Phone 308-632-1372
Web Page http://panhandle.unl.edu/personnel_hergert
Project Information
Title No-till Cropping Systems for Stretching Limited Irrigation Supplies
Other(s) Paul Burgener, Panhandle Research and Extension Center, pburgener2@unl.edu; Alexander Pavlista, Panhandle Research and Extension Center, apavlista1@unl.edu 
Description

A no-till limited irrigated cropping system for stretching limited irrigation supplies, including winter wheat, corn, dry beans and canola, was initiated in 2005 at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center. Under limited irrigation, less water is applied than is required to meet full evapotranspiration demand and the crop is stressed. Irrigation levels are 5, 10 and 15 inches for corn and 4, 8 and 12 inches for all other crops The goal is to manage cultural practices and irrigation timing so the resulting water stress has less of a negative impact on grain yield. The objectives of the project are to: 1) develop limited irrigation production functions for lower water-using crops that fit the panhandle using a no-tillage cropping system to maximize water use efficiency; and 2) use production function data to develop economic information on the impact of reduced water on farm income and effects on local government and agricultural businesses. The research information is necessary to provide an on-going information base to support demonstration efforts similar to the current project in the Pumpkin Creek Watershed.

Project Support North Platte Natural Resources District
Project Website
Report
Current Status Underway
Topic Crop Water Use
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Yonts, C. Dean
Unit Panhandle Research and Extension Center
Email cyonts1@unl.edu
Phone 308-632-1246
Web Page http://bse.unl.edu/faculty33
Project Information
Title Development of season long deficit irrigation strategies for sugarbeets
Description Drought continues to limit the amount of surface water that is available for irrigation throughout the Western Sugar Cooperative growing region. In some cases, growers must choose which fields or crops to irrigate because adequate water is not available. Restrictions on ground water pumping and the lack of surface water due to drought make it necessary to use available water supplies both effectively and efficiently. A research project is being conducted at Scottsbluff using sprinkler irrigation. The experiment is designed to observe the impact of water stress by comparing crop yield from nine different levels of irrigation. Irrigation treatments range from irrigation to no irrigation during the growing season.
Project Support Western Sugar Cooperative Grower Research Committee
Project Website
Report
Current Status Continuing
Topic Economics
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Johnson, Bruce
Unit Agricultural Economics
Email bjohnson2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-1794
Web Page http://www.agecon.unl.edu/facultystaff/Specialization/bjohnson.html
Project Information
Title Farm Real Estate Ownership Transfer Patterns in Nebraska's Panhandle Region
Other(s) Dennis M. Conley, Center for Applied Rural Innovation, dconley1@unl.edu; Gibson Nene, Ag Economics, gnene1@bigred.unl.edu; Patrick L. Krepel 
Description

The purpose of this study was to review and analyze the entire universe of relatively recent agricultural real estate activity in the multi-county, Panhandle Region of Nebraska. This region - Banner, Box Butte, Cheyenne, Dawes, Deuel, Garden, Kimball, Morrill, Scotts Bluff, Sheridan, and Sioux counties - was chosen because of the widely-held perception that a considerable number of acquisitions in recent years were by absentee owners. By investigating all recorded agricultural land transfers (filed in public records) for the period 2003 through the first half of 2006, we were able to identify the true characteristics of the market and analyze the associated implications.

This multi-year study of the market for agricultural real estate properties in the Nebraska Panhandle region provides a solid perspective of the market. Among the key findings were:

  • The rate of ownership turnover of agricultural holdings in the Nebraska Panhandle region is very thin, averaging less than 2 percent per year over the study period.
  • Out-of-state buyers have a strong presence in the agricultural land market of the region, acquiring more than half of the transferred agricultural land.
  • While out-of-state market participants were quite active on the buyer side of the market, they were also quite active on the seller side of the market. In fact, for every10 acres purchased by this group, they sold nearly 13 acres; thus leading to a net decrease in this groupís holdings of some 70,000 acres (equivalent to about one percent of the regionís total agricultural base). In short, there is no evidence to suggest a major shift in land tenure towards out-of-state owners.
  • There are a variety of reasons for acquiring agricultural land, and this was certainly in evidence in this study. Moreover, the primary reasons tended to show marked differences across the buyer classes. Among the out-of-state buyer group, investment was reported as the primary reason for purchase. In contrast, local buyers most frequently reported expansion (of existing property holdings) as their primary motive.
  • The overall dynamics of the market for agricultural real estate in the Panhandle area of the state show eclectic market conditions - markets no longer limited to local participants, but, instead, markets with a heavy presence of individuals from around the region and state and beyond. In turn, the motivations for buying and selling in the current market environment are highly variable, and are likely to remain so.
Project Support University of Nebraska Rural Initiative
Project Website http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/ruralinitiativepubs/6/
Report Johnson Farm Real Estate.pdf
Current Status Completed
Topic Extension
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Hergert, Gary
Unit Panhandle Research and Extension Center
Email ghergert1@unl.edu
Phone 308-632-1372
Web Page http://www.panhandle.unl.edu/personnel/personnel_hergert.htm
Project Information
Title Improving Nitrogen Management for White Wheat
Description

Winter wheat, long a mainstay of dryland agriculture in the Panhandle, is being grown on a growing number of irrigated fields because it will grow under limited irrigation and wheat prices have risen to cover irrigation costs. Nonetheless, limited irrigation and increasing fertilizer prices mean producers need to sharpen their management skills. Research is proving that soil testing, timing fertilizer applications and managing application rates are all very important to growing winter wheat.

Preliminary data from this research shows top yields come when one third of the fertilizer is applied in the fall and two-thirds at boot stage. Maximum yields have been produced when the amount of residual nitrogen in the top four feet of soil, along with the applied fertilizer, totals 200-210 pounds of nitrogen per acre. Top nitrogen rates to maximize yield have not been higher than 100 pounds per acre, which is lower than commonly used to produce high yields. These recommendations for white wheat should also apply to hard red wheat.

Project Support Nebraska Wheat Board
Project Website
Report
Current Status Underway
Topic Extension
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Hergert, Gary
Unit Panhandle Research and Extension Center
Email ghergert1@unl.edu
Phone 308-632-1372
Web Page http://panhandle.unl.edu/personnel_hergert
Project Information
Title Consumptive Water Use Maps for the Nebraska Panhandle
Other(s) Ayse Irmak, School of Natural Resources, airmak2@unl.edu; Derrel Martin, Biological Systems Engineering, dmartin1@unl.edu; Gary Stone, Panhandle Research and Extension Center, gstone2@unl.edu 
Description

The use of ground water, especially for irrigation, is becominng regulated in Nebraska, in response to several factors:

  • Recurrent droughts across the High Plains and Inter-Mountain West have magnified the problem of declining ground water resources. The High Plains Aquifer (HPA), often referred to as the Ogallala aquifer, underlies Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming. Nearly 30% of the ground water used for irrigation in the United States is extracted from the HPA. A significant proportion of the aquifer underlies Nebraska. In the North Platte Basin, the drought has resulted in reduced surface water deliveries, which in turn has led to less ground water recharge and declining water tables.
  • Nebraska ground water law has evolved. Ground water levels began declining in some parts of Nebraska after extensive irrigation development began in the 1960s. LB108 in 1996 recognized the relationship between ground and surface water, and LB962 (2004) provided new regulatory measures for integrated management of ground water and surface water. Natural resources districts (NRDs) have adopted allocations for ground water pumping in some areas. The North Platte NRD has established ground water allocations of 12 acre-inches in the Pumpkin Creek Basin and 18 acre-inches in the North Platte Valley for 2009. New or expanded ground water uses are prohibited throughout the NRD unless they are offset with transfers of existing uses.

The goal of this project is to develop the expertise in remote sensing image acquisition and computing, using the METRIC(tm) procedure; to produce area-specific consumptive water use (CWU) maps; and to develop, test and demonstrate the tools that will take these CWU maps and turn them into immediately usable products for planning, managing and regulating groundwater. The CWU maps will be the primary product of this project. They are developed from LANDSAT images by applying Mapping EvapoTranspiration with High Resolution and Internalized Calibration (METRIC(tm)) algorithms.

Project Support U.S. Department of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation Service
Project Website http://panhandle.unl.edu/web/panhandlerec/metric
Report
Current Status Website Available
Pic 1 Project Image
Pic Caption 1 Water level changes in the High Plains Aquifer from 1980 - 1994 
Topic Extension
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Hergert, Gary
Unit Panhandle Research and Extension Center
Email ghergert1@unl.edu
Phone 308-632-1372
Web Page http://panhandle.unl.edu/personnel_hergert
Project Information
Title Limited Irrigation Cropping for Conserving Water Resources in the Pumpkin Creek Watershed
Other(s) Gary Stone, Panhandle Research and Extension Center, gstone2@unl.edu; C. Dean Yonts, Panhandle Research and Extension Center, cyonts1@unl.edu; Jim Schild, Panhandle Research and Extension Center, jschild1@unl.edu 
Description

Limited irrigation and no-till cropping systems are the focus of an extension project for the Pumpkin Creek Watershed which has a yearly NRD allocation of 12-inches for well irrigation. The project objectives are to: 1) demonstrate limited irrigation and no-tillage cropping systems to maximize groundwater supplies, and 2) educate area producers, local government and agricultural businesses about different management scenarios. Drought over the past eight years has magnified the problems associated with declining ground water in Pumpkin Creek and the High Plains Aquifer and maintaining profitable agriculture while protecting surface and ground water supplies is a complex issue. The demonstration project has shown producers that they can manage with less water, but they must adapt to new cropping and no-till systems and irrigation management techniques.

June 4, 2010 CropWatch Article

Project presentation by Gary Stone at the 2008 Water Colloquium

Project Support U.S. Department of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation Service, North Platte Natural Resoruces District
Project Website http://panhandle.unl.edu/pumpkincreek
Report Pumpkin Creek Poster Resized 40 x 48 4-20-2010.pdf
Current Status Underway
Topic Extension
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Hergert, Gary
Unit Panhandle Research and Extension Center
Email ghergert1@unl.edu
Phone 308-632-1372
Web Page http://panhandle.unl.edu/personnel_hergert
Project Information
Title Panhandle Research and Extension Center
Other(s) Jim Schild, Interim Associate Director, jschild1@unl.edu; Steve Sibray, School of Natural Resources, ssibray1@unl.edu 
Description

The Panhandle Research and Extension Center, located in the heart of western Nebraska in Scottsbluff, houses 19 faculty with appointments in agriculture and family and consumer science through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Most of the faculty hold joint appointments in research and extension. The Cooperative Extension program in a 17-county area of the Panhandle and north-central Nebraska is also administered at the Center.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has had a presence in western Nebraska for over 85 years. In 1909, the University of Nebraska Experiment Station and the USDA jointly homesteaded a quarter section of land five miles east of Mitchell. Initial research was in the area of crop production under gravity irrigation. Research emphasis increased and soon included studies in sheep, swine, dairy, and beef production, in addition to many other crop areas. The 800 acre Experimental Range in Sioux County was deeded to the University of Nebraska by President Woodrow Wilson in 1918. Satellite agricultural laboratories at Alliance and Sidney, Nebraska were added in 1967. Through a fortunate set of circumstances, the headquarters of the Panhandle Station moved to the former Hiram Scott College campus after the state had acquired the property after the school closed in the early 1970s. The headquarters and surrounding research plots are located just north of the city of Scottsbluff. To reflect the University's involvement throughout the Panhandle, the name was officially changed to the Panhandle Research and Extension Center in 1985. The addition of the Learning Center, a joint effort of the Division of Continuing Studies and Cooperative Extension, in 1987 significantly enhanced the educational opportunities for western Nebraska residents.

Project Support Varies according to program and project - for more information see http://www.panhandle.unl.edu
Project Website http://www.panhandle.unl.edu
Report
Current Status Continuing
Topic Extension
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Melvin, Steve
Unit West Central Research and Extension Center
Email smelvin1@unl.edu
Phone 308-367-4424
Web Page http://www.frontier.unl.edu/
Project Information
Title Irrigation Strategies Field Tour Series
Other(s) Bill Kranz, Northeast Research and Extension Center, wkranz1@unl.edu; Charles Shapiro, Northeast Research and Extension Center, cshapiro1@unl.edu; Simon Van Donk, West Central Research and Extension Center, svandonk2@unl.edu; Derrel Martin, Biological Systems Engineering, dmartin1@unl.edu 
Description

The 2009 Irrigation Strategies Field Tour Series will focus on showing farmers and crop consultants management strategies to conserve water.

The tour topics, which vary by location, include: Water Resource Update; Comparing Irrigation Energy Sources: Costs and Emissions Requirements; Monitoring Crop Water Use and Soil Moisture Status - Simple, Durable, Accurate, and Economical Tools; Water Savings with Crop Residue Management; How the Amount of Water and Nitrogen Applied with a Center Pivot Affects Crop Yield; How to Get the Most from Your Nitrogen Dollar; Where Slow Release Nitrogen Fertilization Fits into Corn Production; Variable Rate Irrigation Equipment for Center Pivots; Predicting the Last Irrigation; and How Time of Application and Amount of Water Applied Affects Crop Yield.

In 2008 eleven field demonstrations, with thirteen field tours at the sites, were conducted around the state to teach irrigation options specifically adapted for Nebraska crops, soils, and irrigation issues. No-till water savings were shown at the Curtis site and at the Ainsworth site, and a demonstration showed producers how nitrogen losses due to drainage taking soluble nitrogen below the root zone can be prevented with correct water application.

The farmers participating in 2008 reported managing an average of 1,067 acres of irrigated cropland per farm. The average reported value of the knowledge gained by the producers completing the survey was $22,215 per operation. If this average was extended to all of the 160 producers attending, the value of the education gained would be more than $3.55 million per year. The reported potential water savings of 2.2 acre-inches/acre by the farmers would be a 15-20% savings from the typical irrigation water usage and if extended to the average farm size, would be more than 31,300 acre-feet/year. The other 40 people attending the tours also reported substantial knowledge gains that will help save water and increase returns per acre. Their occupations ranged from crop consultants, agri-business representatives, government agency personnel, etc. The acre influence/manage ranged from none to over 100,000 acres. This variation makes it difficult to determine the impact of their involvement, but it is very significant as well. For example, just the eight people that listed the acres they manage/influence (38,875 acres on average) and the value of the knowledge gained ($18.78/acre on average) would result in over $5.84 million per year.

Nine of the eleven irrigation demonstration sites were in farmer fields in 2008, and two were located on the NCTA farm. The plot locations included sites near Alma, Gothenburg, Axtell, Edison, Loomis, Ainsworth, Imperial, Benkelman, Upland, and Curtis (two sites). Two sites (Curtis and Loomis) had line-source sprinkler systems installed to demonstrate irrigation strategies for corn. All sites had soil-moisture-monitoring equipment and ET gauges installed for use at the field tours and to allow the producers and crop consultants to work with the equipment. The Ainsworth site demonstrated the relationship between varying amounts of nitrogen on irrigated corn. The data generated from the sites will also be used for Extension programs in the future.

Project Support U.S. Department of Interior - Bureau of Reclamation
Project Website http://water.unl.edu/irrigationtournews
Report
Current Status Continuing
Topic Invasive Species
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Narumalani, Sunil
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email snarumalani1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-9842
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=85
Project Information
Title Detecting and Mapping Four Invasive Species along the Floodplain of North Platte River, Nebraska
Other(s) Deepak R. Mishra, University of New Orleans, dmishra@uno.edu; Robert G. Wilson, Panhandle Research and Extension Center, rwilson1@unl.edu; Patrick Reece, Panhandle Research and Extension Center, preece1@unl.edu; Ann Kohler 
Description

This research focused on the dominant invasive plant species in Nebraska, including saltcedar, Russian olive, Canada thistle, and musk thistle. Once established, these invasive species can have several harmful effects, such as increasing (1) soil salinity, which reduces productivity of native plants and results in the loss of natural habitat (Pimentel et al. 2000); (2) soil water consumption to such an extent that it can dry up streams and reduce water levels of rivers and lakes (Friederici 1995); (3) risk of wildfires during summer (Brooks et al. 2004); and (4) chances of flooding during high-intensity rainfall by impeding stream flow (Zavaleta 2000).

The study area was a corridor approximately 1.6 km wide and 257 km long located along the North Platte River starting at the Wyoming/Nebraska border and ending at Kingsley Dam on Lake McConaughy. The elevation ranges from 1,244 m above sea level at the Wyoming/Nebraska state line to 943 m, in an area below Kingsley Dam. The Platte River is generally considered to be a braided river with a network of small channels separated by large and small islands and sandbars. It has been noted that historically the banks of the Platte River were rarely covered with trees but instead with grasses and sedges (Farrar 1983; Kuzelka et al. 1993). Some of the islands were wooded, and willows (Salix exigua) and cottonwood (Populus deltoids) trees were observed. In the 1930s, Russian olive was introduced into the region for conservation plantings. It has rapidly spread along the Platte River, replacing willows and cottonwoods. More recently, saltcedar has also invaded the study area from the west and, along with Russian olive, occupies riverbanks, sandbars, and islands. Saltcedar seedlings are tolerant of shade and thrive in a variety of soil and moisture conditions, but especially saline soils.

When examined from a comprehensive perspective for the entire study area (22 flight lines) from the Nebraska/Wyoming Border to Kingsley Dam, invasive plants covered an area of 139,632 ha, of which 1,965 hectares (2% of the total area) were identified as saltcedar and 1,478 hectares (1.1% of the total area) as Russian olive. The three mixed classes occupied approximately 5% of the total area. These numbers indicate the severity of invasion of nonnative species along the North Platte River. Nonnative species such as saltcedar have been known to consume large quantities of water, and because western Nebraska is frequently affected by drought, mapping and monitoring their spread along the river corridor can aid in the implementation of biological, mechanical, chemical, or some combination of these control mechanisms to minimize the effects on water resources.

Effective control and management of an invasive species begins with its detection and inventory. The ability to detect invasive plants with the use of remotely sensed data has improved with new sensors, enhanced technology (e.g., hyperspectral), and innovative image processing techniques. However, datasets that have the highest likelihood of detecting invasive plants come with high fiscal and technical considerations. When compared with low-resolution multispectral data, airborne hyperspectral data is most appropriate for detecting subtle changes in the reflectance properties of various vegetation species present in the landscape (Narumalani et al. 2006).

Project Support n/a
Project Website http://snr.unl.edu/invasives/file/northplatte_sunil_deepak.ppt
Report Narumalani_Platte.pdf
Current Status Published in Weed Technology 2009 23:99-107
Topic Invasive Species
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Narumalani, Sunil
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email snarumalani1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-9842
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=85
Project Information
Title Predicting Potential Occurrence and Spread of Invasive Plant Species along the North Platte River, Nebraska
Other(s) Justin D. Hoffman; Deepak R. Mishra, University of New Orleans, dmishra@uno.edu; Paul Merani; Robert G. Wilson, Panhandle Research and Extension Center, rwilson1@unl.edu 
Description

Riparian habitats are important components of an ecosystem; however, their hydrology combined with anthropogenic effects facilitates the establishment and spread of invasive plant species. Researchers used a maximum-entropy predictive habitat model, MAXENT, to predict the distributions of five invasive plant species (Canada thistle, musk thistle, Russian olive, phragmites, and saltcedar) along the North Platte River in Nebraska. Projections for each species were highly accurate. Researchers studied a 1-mile wide buffer on either side of the North Platte River channel from the Wyoming-Nebraska state line to approximately 3.2 km west of North Platte. Field work was conducted in September 2005, March 2006, and May 2007.

Researchers found different distribution patterns among the species. Russian olive and thistles closely resembled each other in extent and variable contribution. While conducting field work, researchers repeatedly documented thistles below Russian olives or in close proximity. In addition, both species were commonly documented at varying distances from the river. Conversely, researchers found phragmites and saltcedar to have a more restricted potential distribution. Saltcedar was common throughout most of the study area except in the extreme eastern parts. The eastern edge of the study area approaches the distribution limit of saltcedar in Nebraska (Kaul et al. 2006; Wilson and Knezevic 2006). Phragmites was common in the eastern parts of the study area; however, there was low to no probability of phragmites occurrence in the west. Potential suitable habitat diminished just west of Lake MaConaughy, suggesting researchers have identified the western distributional limit of phragmites on the North Platte River and in Nebraska.

Variable contribution among all species was similar, with elevation and distance from river as the two most important variables for all species. The most probable underlying variable explaining the significance of distance from river is soil moisture. In most cases soil moisture will decrease as distance from river increases. Although soil moisture may be more directly responsible for the observed plant distributions, this variable is not easily estimated over large areas, unlike distance from river. There was a large disparity of elevation in the study area. The importance of elevation may be the result of the locations of the survey sites, underlying mechanistic variables, or both. Collection sites occurred at the elevational extremes. For Russian olive, thistle, and saltcedar, the lack of presence data at median elevations most likely caused MAXENT to weight that variable higher than others. The predictive model of phragmites also determined elevation to be the most important variable. Unlike the other species, no phragmites was documented at the western site. It is possible that phragmites can not survive at higher elevations because of colder temperatures found at these sites. However, Saltonstall (2002) found invasive haplotypes of phragmites occurring at high elevations in Wyoming and Utah, which does not support the previous hypothesis. A more likely explanation is that phragmities is in the process of expanding its range westward on the North Platte River and has not had enough time to disperse to the western parts of the river.

The results of this study have management implications for these species along the North Platte River, as well as other river ecosystems. For example, the variables used in this study resulted in excellent predictions of the distributions of invasive plants. As mentioned above, some of these variables (i.e., elevation and distance from river) may have underlying mechanistic factors that are more accurate measures of plant distributions. However, one of the utilities of the current approach is that these variables are easy to access and generate in a geographic information systems environment and useful predictions can be derived, which is not the case for some of their potential underlying factors. Also, predictive modeling shows limited areas of suitable habitat in the western parts of the North Platte River, primarily along the river channel. Researchers suggest that extensive monitoring be conducted in these areas to identify any populations that may occur there. Identification and control of these populations will significantly slow or stop the westward spread of phragmites. Also, any populations of phragmites that occur in the west should be relatively small and isolated making control of these populations more feasible. Similarly, abundances of saltcedar decreased in the eastern parts of the North Platte River. As with phragmites in the west, a control strategy should be used for saltcedar while populations are small and manageable. In addition, both species were found to occur close to the river bed, thus by monitoring the riverbanks and sandbars, the majority of populations could be identified within a very limited search area. Russian olive and thistles occur throughout the study area. Researchers suggest that control of these species should take place in areas with high probability of occurrence to prevent establishment of monotypic stands of each species.

Project Support U.S. Department of Agriculture - Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Project Website
Report Narumalani_Invasive.pdf
Current Status Published in Invasive Plant Science and Management 2008 1:359-367
Topic Production Agriculture
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Ferguson, Richard
Unit Agronomy and Horticulture
Email rferguson1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-1144
Web Page http://agronomy.unl.edu/ferguson
Project Information
Title Interactions of Water and Nitrogen Supply for Irrigated Corn across Field Landscapes
Other(s) Tim Shaver, West Central Research & Extension Center, tim.shaver@unl.edu; Nicholas Ward, Agronomy & Horticulture, ward.nick.c@gmail.com; Suat Irmak, Biological Systems Engineering, sirmak2@unl.edu; Simon van Donk, West Central Research & Extension Center, simon.vandonk@unl.edu; Daran Rudnick, Agronomy & Horticulture, daran.rudnick@huskers.unl.edu; Brian Wienhold, Agronomy & Horticulture, bwienhold1@unl.edu 
Description

Water and nitrogen (N) supply to a crop can interact throughout the growing season to influence yield potential. The increasing availability of variable rate irrigation systems to growers in irrigated regions, along with existing capacity for variable rate fertilization, provides the opportunity for temporal and spatial management of inputs of water and nitrogen. This study was initiated in 2011 to explore interactions of landscape and soil features with water and N inputs on grain yield and water and N use efficiency. Five field locations were used across Nebraska to evaluate the effects of landscape variation, climate, and capacity for temporal and spatial management of water and N. Preliminary results in 2011 showed that at sites with significant topographic variation these features influenced grain yield as much as the rate of irrigation water or nitrogen fertilizer, indicating the importance of considering spatial variation in landscape features when optimizing rates and timing of water and nitrogen.

Five field locations were used for the study in 2011. Two sites were at University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) research laboratories the South Central Agricultural Laboratory (SCAL) and the Brule Water Resources Laboratory (BWL). Three sites were located on cooperating producerís fields one in Morrill County, and two in Hamilton County. The UNL research sites included more detailed measurements, and inclusion of treatments that were more yield-limiting than those on producer fields. Locations were situated across a rainfall and soils gradient in Nebraska, allowing evaluation of site-specific water/N management interactions over a range of annual rainfall and soil types. Three of the sites included the use of variable rate irrigation systems and two of the sites implemented canopy sensor-based in-season N treatments.

Project Support John Deere
Project Website
Report Ferguson_Landscape.pdf
Current Status Completed
Pic 1 Project Image
Pic Caption 1 Study locations in 2011, with precipitation gradient across Nebraska 
Topic Production Agriculture
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Supalla, Raymond
Unit Agricultural Economics
Email rsupalla1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-1792
Web Page http://agecon.unl.edu/supalla
Project Information
Title Economic and State Budget Cost of Reducing the Consumptive Use of Irrigation Water in the Platte and the Republican Basins
Other(s) Brian McMullen, Agricultural Economics, bmcmullen2@unl.edu 
Description

The terms of the Cooperative Agreement for the Platte Basin and the Supreme Court settlement decision for the Republican Basin both require that Nebraska reduce its consumptive use of irrigation water. This analysis evaluated the economic and the budgetary costs of meeting these requirements. Both the on-farm and off-farm costs were evaluated for both land retirement and water allocation programs, implemented in several different ways, over three alternative time periods, 10, 25 and 50 years.

The on-farm economic costs were defined as the change in net farm income associated with less irrigation. Off-farm economic costs were defined as the statewide change in household income resulting from changes in irrigation, as the effects ripple through the Nebraska economy. Budgetary costs were defined as the cost to the state budget (taxpayers) of policies which compensate irrigators for reducing consumptive use are implemented. Statewide economic costs were found to be lower for land retirement than for allocation programs, assuming the same total change in consumptive use. Total budgetary costs depended primarily on: where the irrigation reductions occurred (proximity to river); on how long the program was continued (number of years), and on whether irrigation was reduced voluntarily with incentives, or by regulation, or by some combination of regulation and incentives. It was found that policy makers could minimize the cost of reducing consumptive use from irrigation and augmenting stream flow by purchasing rather than leasing irrigation rights, by using a regulatory rather than a willing seller incentive approach, and by reducing irrigation at locations close to the river.

More on this research in a UNL Agricultural Economics working paper

Project Support n/a
Project Website
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Production Agriculture
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Yonts, C. Dean
Unit Panhandle Research and Extension Center
Email cyonts1@unl.edu
Phone 308-632-1246
Web Page http://bse.unl.edu/faculty/Yonts.shtml
Project Information
Title Crop Management Workshop, August 20-21, 2008
Other(s) Jim Schild, jschild@unlnotes.unl.edu; John Smith, jasmith@unlnotes.unl.edu; Bob Wilson, rwilson@unlnotes.unl.edu; Carlos Urrea, currea2@unl.edu; Gary Hein, ghein@unlnotes.unl.edu; Gary Hergert, ghergert@unlnotes.unl.edu; and Bob Harveson, rharveso@unlnotes.unl.edu, Panhandle Research and Extension Center 
Description Crop management workshops are designed to assist the industry in gaining knowledge in production of crops grown in the Panhandle of Nebraska. Regional insurance adjusters from the High Plains region will be given training on dry edible bean production over a two day period in the following areas: effect of plant water stress, growth and development, soil compaction, harvesting, herbicide carryover, impact of drought, insect damage, nutrient requirements, disease management, crop adjustment procedures and quality adjustment factors.
Project Support National Crop Insurance Service
Project Website
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Production Agriculture
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Yonts, C. Dean
Unit Panhandle Research and Extension Center
Email cyonts1@unl.edu
Phone 308-632-1246
Web Page http://bse.unl.edu/faculty33
Project Information
Title Conserving soil water using a no-till system with a crop rotation of sugarbeets, dry beans and corn
Other(s) John A. Smith, Panhandle Research and Extension Center, jasmith@unlnotes.unl.edu 
Description Use of no-till production systems for sugarbeets and dry edible beans is very low in western Nebraska. On the other hand, a significant part of the corn acreage in this region does use no-tillage, or a practice that is very close to no-tillage. There are several real and perceived reasons for this difference in acreage of no-tillage productions systems between these crops. Reasons often given include difficulty of precision planting, need for mechanical incorporation of herbicides, multiple cultivations for weed control, furrowing for furrow irrigation and for guidance for harvest operations, providing a ridge for harvest of dry beans, and the "tillage-like actions" of harvest equipment. With the availability of glyphosate resistant corn and sugarbeets, weed control becomes substantially easier. The experiment is designed to observe two different crop rotations - corn, dry beans, corn, sugarbeets and corn, corn, drybeans. Tillage systems being tested include conventional plow, zone till and no till. The primary objective of this project is to determine the amount of soil water conserved by no-till crop production compared to current production practices with a crop rotation of sugarbeets, dry edible beans, and corn. The secondary purpose is to measure effectiveness of planting and weed control systems for no-till dry beans and sugarbeets, and direct harvest of no-till dry edible beans using the newest available production technologies.
Project Support Anna Elliott Fund
Project Website
Report
Current Status Continuing
Topic Property Values
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Shultz, Steve
Unit UNO Real Estate Research Center
Email sshultz@mail.unomaha.edu
Phone 402-554-2810
Web Page http://cba.unomaha.edu/dir/HomePageBio.cfm?id=347
Project Information
Title Ongoing UNO/UNL Research on the Determinants of Agricultural Land Values: How Irrigation Contributes to Land Values in Western and Central Nebraska
Other(s) Nick Schmitz, UNO Real Estate Research Center 
Description

Hedonic (mass appraisal) land valuation models were estimated in the Republican and Platte watersheds of Central and Western Nebraska. These models are based on assumption that the buyers and sellers of agricultural land are able to accurately assess the value of irrigation when negotiating sale contract prices, and that irrigation equipment can be distinguished from land and irrigation values. Alternative models were estimated using various combinations of explanatory variables (all measured at the parcel level of analysis). These include: soil productivity measures, topography precipitation, parcel size, cropping patterns, topography, aquifer thickness, well pumping capacity, distances to elevators and towns, and irrigation systems.

The location of all agricultural land sales statewide (2000-2007) and estimated irrigation values in the Platte and Republican Watersheds were identified. Preliminary mass appraisal model results were summarized in tables and the locations of retired irrigation parcels in the Republican Watershed (as part of a 2006 NE DNR and USDA Pilot Program) were identified. The value of irrigated cropland is on average $615/acre (this is the value of irrigated cropland only and does not include the value dryland corners within pivot systems). As well, there are numerous areas and site-specific parcels within the watershed with both lower and higher irrigation values. In fact, we have calculated irrigation values for all of the natural resource districts in the Republican watershed: they range from $488/acre to $948/acre. These estimates are still considered 'preliminary' and may be subject to revision. These irrigation values also do not account for premiums above and beyond marginal market values that farmers and landowners will likely require to willingly participate in future irrigation retirement programs.

More on this research in a journal of the Western Agricultural Economics Association

Project Support U.S. Department of Agriculture Water and Watershed Program
Project Website
Report
Current Status Complete (up to 2007)
Topic Sandhills Studies and Modeling
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Hu, Qi (Steve)
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email qhu2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-6642
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=54
Project Information
Title The Missing Term in Surface Water Balance in the Great Plains
Other(s) Jinsheng You, School of Natural Resources, jyou2@unl.edu 
Description

It has been recognized that the surface water budget derived from the NCEP-NCAR Reanalysis and other existing climatic datasets is not in balance in the Great Plains region. This imbalance is shown by large surface evaporation which cannot be supported by source terms in the budget equation. This large surface evaporation is always appearing in calculations from the surface and soil moisture conditions specified in those datasets. This imbalance poses serious uncertainties to diagnostic and modeling studies of energy and carbon balances and to our understanding of atmospheric/climatic processes in this region. An effort aiming at identifying sources causing the water budget imbalance has been underway and some preliminary results have been obtained. A main source of the imbalance arises from the calculation of the surface evaporation. It was found that the surface and soil water specified in those datasets (developed from integrations of both observations and model simulations) is biased because of inaccurate descriptions of the soil properties, particularly the sandy soils in the Nebraska Sand Hills. A revised model with more accurate descriptions of the soils and soil hydrology in the Sand Hills has produced a balance surface water budget in the Sand Hills.

Project presentation at the 2008 Water Colloquium

Project Support Department of Commerce - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Project Website
Report
Current Status
Topic Sandhills Studies and Modeling
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Hubbard, Kenneth
Unit High Plains Regional Climate Center
Email khubbard1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-8294
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=55
Project Information
Title Assessment of Soil Moisture Dynamics of the Nebraska Sandhills Using Long-Term Measurements and a Hydrology Model
Other(s) Venkataramana Sridhar; David Wedin, School of Natural Resources, dwedin1@unl.edu 
Description Soil moisture, evapotranspiration, and other major water balance components were investigated for six Nebraska Sandhills locations during a 6 year period (1998-2004) using a hydrological model. Annual precipitation in the study period ranged from 330 to 580 mm. Soil moisture was measured continuously at 10, 25, 50, and 100 cm depth at each site. Model estimates of surface (0-30 cm), subsurface (30-91 cm), and root zone (0-122 cm) soil moisture were generally well correlated with observed soil moisture. The correlations were poorest for the surface layer, where soil moisture values fluctuated sharply, and best for the root zone as a whole. Modeled annual estimates of evapotranspiration and drainage beneath the rooting zone showed large differences between sites and between years. Despite the Sandhills' relatively homogeneous vegetation and soils, the high spatiotemporal variability of major water balance components suggest an active interaction among various hydrological processes in response to precipitation in this semiarid region.
Project Support National Science Foundation, High Plains Regional Climate Center
Project Website
Report Hubbard06.pdf
Current Status Published in Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering, September/October 2006, 463-473
Topic Sandhills Studies and Modeling
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Loope, David
Unit Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Email dloope1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-2647
Web Page http://eas.unl.edu/people/faculty_page.php?lastname=Loope&firstname=David&type=REG
Project Information
Title Large Wind Shift on the Great Plains During the Medieval Warm Period
Other(s) Venkataramana Sridhar; James Swinehart, School of Natural Resources, jswinehart1@unl.edu; Joseph Mason, University of Wisconsin, Madison, mason@geography.wisc.edu; Robert Oglesby, School of Natural Resources, roglesby2@unl.edu; Clinton Rowe, Geosciences, crowe1@unl.edu 
Description Spring-Summer winds from the south move moist air from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Plains. Growing season rainfall sustains prairie grasses that keep large dunes in the Nebraska Sandhills immobile. Longitudinal dunes built during the Medieval Warm Period (800-100 yBP) record the last major period of sand mobility. These dunes are oriented NW-SE and are composed of cross-strata with bi-polar dip directions. The trend and structure of these dunes directly record a prolonged drought that was initiated and sustained by a historically unprecedented shift of Spring-Summer atmospheric circulation over the Plains: southerly flow of moist air was replaced by dry southwesterly flow.
Project Support National Science Foundation
Project Website
Report Loope Wind Shift.pdf
Current Status Published in Science November 2007 318:1284-1286
Topic Sandhills Studies and Modeling
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Zlotnik, Vitaly
Unit Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Email vzlotnik1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-2495
Web Page http://eas.unl.edu/people/faculty_page.php?lastname=Zlotnik&firstname=Vitaly&type=REG
Project Information
Title Variability in Lake Salinity in the Sand Hills
Other(s) John Lenters, School of Natural Resources, jlenters2@unl.edu; Collaborating institutions: Indiana University, Oklahoma State University, U.S. Geological Survey 
Description

This research explores variability in lake salinity in the Sand Hills, which is the largest vegetated sand dune field in the western hemisphere. Numerous lakes occur in topographic depressions under west-east regional groundwater flow. In Sheridan and Garden counties alone there are approximately 400 lakes with surface areas larger than 4 hectare. The concentration of total dissolved solids in lake water ranges from fresh to very saline (three times higher than the ocean salinity). At the same time, the groundwater is fresh. Although several hypotheses are available, causes of wide salinity variations within this large area have not been determined conclusively. Geographically, this project is focused on Crescent Lake National Refuge area and the vicinities.

Understanding salinization mechanisms will explain climate effects on lake salinity and the potential for their existence in the Sand Hills. In addition, results can be utilized for detection and prediction of the consequences of deposition of saline or contaminated water over shallow freshwater aquifers in environmental disasters, such as hurricanes (e.g., Mississippi and Louisiana, U.S., 2005), tsunamis (e.g., Indonesia, Bangladesh in 2005), and large-scale land salinization (e.g., Murray Basin, Australia).

Project Support National Science Foundation
Project Website
Report Sandhills_Salinity_Final_Report.pdf
Current Status Completed
Topic Wildlife
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Young, Chelsey
Unit Biology, UNK
Email youngca2@unk.edu
Phone 507-469-8284
Web Page
Project Information
Title A range-wide assessment of plains topminnow (Fundulus sciadicus) distribution and potential threats
Other(s) W. Wyatt Hoback, Biology UNK, hobackww@unk.edu; Keith Koupal, Biology UNK; Justin Haas 
Description The plains topminnow, Fundulus sciadicus, was once distributed from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, north to South Dakota and as far south as Oklahoma. Two centers of distribution are recognized. One is centered in Nebraska and the second is centered in Missouri. The geographic range of plains topminnow has decreased in the past decades. Plains topminnow are now considered a species of special concern in the state of Nebraska and listed as a Tier 1 species in the Nebraska Natural Legacy Project. Elimination of plains topminnow populations has been associated with introduction of invasive species, as well as loss of backwater habitats due to drought and lowered water tables. The objective of this project is to provide an updated assessment of plains topminnow distribution and population status as compared to all available historical records. Between 2004 and the present, sampling of plains topminnow revealed that in Nebraska 77% of historic Nebraska sites no longer contain plains topminnow populations. The sampling of remaining historic sites in Nebraska and neighboring states will continue in the 2009 sampling season.
Project Support n/a
Project Website
Report topminnow_range_reduction.pdf
Current Status Completed