"Well, irrigation in Nebraska is very important, very critical to this area. And it is a concern. We do need to monitor the amount that we use and try to use it the most efficiently. And it is a concern that we try to do everything that we can to make sure that we are using it to its potential, especially this time of year. [We're] looking at going to more the low pressure systems so that we are keeping the water right on to the crop. [We're] looking at the crop water needs. adjusting your system accordingly to avoid any runoff. And [we're] always watching, you know, rainfall and adjusting your systems to meet that. If you do get some rain, you can shut off. And when to restart again to not get behind on the needs."
     [Question:] "The County Agent Gary Zoubek was telling me about an ET gauge, evaporation-transpiration gauge. Can you tell me about that?"
     "Well, that's something new the county extension office, or the University of Nebraska, has actually been working with. And it's another way to monitor actual crop water usage. This is our first year into it, so I'm kind of learning about it as we go along, too…
     "It's a gauge that's full of water. It's filled to a certain degree of water and it's got some markings on it just for – What it's doing is basically – It's like a corn plant out there or a plant and it's taking into account for evaporation as to what that crop would need or using each day or each week…
     "We really don't usually have to start any irrigation system until it's [the corn is] getting probably close to knee high or waist high. And at that stage you're usually, you could be using ½-inch to ¾-of-an-inch, something like that, in a week. And you get into the peak period of times it isn't hard to get – When you're starting to develop the ear, then you're getting up there possibly an 1½-inch of water usage per week at that point in time. And that's when you really need to have the water on. And it's hard to apply that much water in a weeks' time. So you need to be a little bit ahead of that so that you have that much moisture available in the soil. And that can be available in the top three feet of that soil because you're at that stage when you're using an 1½-inch you are possibly pulling, your roots are pulling moisture from it could be three feet into the soil…
     "I still think, you know, as we get into cycles, we can get back to some more cycles that have more rainfall in our area and in the Midwest in general. So we aren't using so critical on irrigation water. And hopefully that'll fill up some of our dams that we have around, and bring us back. We are in a seventh year of a pretty good drought. We do know that we're probably going to enter the stage of having meters on the wells to actually monitor the amount of water. That's probably coming."
     [Question:] "Out of the 100 pivots that you have how many are metered now?"
     "Oh, they started metering them probably five or six years ago as a requirement, any new installations, new wells have to have them. I would say we've probably got at least 15 or 20 of them that do have a meter on them."
     [Question:] "So, the majority of them, you're going to have to have them metered later."
     [Question:] "How significant an investment is that?"
     "They're talking probably a $5- to $600 investment on a meter. The thing I think that there's still – The accuracy of them is a little probably to be yet determined. But I think the technology will come along that they'll probably change that as we go on."

Mark Kaliff – Mining Groundwater


Excerpts from Mark & Valerie’s Interview:

Farms Growing Bigger
The Bust of the 80s
Government Subsidies
Women on the Farm
Rural Lifestyles Today
Mysteries in the Country
Growing Monocultures
Efficiencies with Pivots
Farm Equipment Innovation
Tractor Technology
Conservation Tillage
Computers on the Farm