Water Technology Farms (KCARE)


Daniel Devlin

Phone: (785) 532-0393

Email: ddevlin@ksu.edu

Purpose of the Collaboration:

Kansas Water Technology Farms implement modern irrigation technology and other traditional irrigation techniques to improve water conservation and to expand conversations about safeguarding future water resources for Kansas. These public-private partnerships are not research plots but working farms where producers and landowners apply irrigation technologies on a field scale with water conservation as their goal. Kansas State University’s irrigation researchers and extension specialists are trusted partners in this endeavor, working with dozens of private companies, grower associations, farmer cooperatives, and various state agencies. Water technology farms are funded by the Kansas Water Office as part of the state’s Long-Term Vision for the Future of Water Supply. Currently, there are 15 water technology farms sprinkled across the state, with K-State acting as a partner for the majority of them: many of these farms are located in western Kansas, where the Ogallala Aquifer’s decline is compelling farmers to rethink how they use water in that part of the state. Water is an essential resource in all parts of Kansas and, as a result, additional farms in Ford, Sedgwick, Wichita and Harvey counties have joined the network. The program continues to grow as more interested farmers apply for inclusion.

Length of Partnership:

3 years

Community Partners:

Kansas Water Office, various state agencies

Community Impact:

As a trusted partner, K-State offers great expertise to these farmers and landowners who are interested in implementing new systems such as mobile drip irrigation, soil moisture probes or irrigation scheduling systems. As leaders in irrigation research with decades of experience, K-State faculty and extension specialists advise farmers and work with them hand-in-hand; this can include demonstrating new technologies and implementing irrigation systems to communicating with producers one-on-one or through field days. The water conservation efforts of these partnerships have been positive. According to the 2018 Water Technology Farm Report published by the Kansas Water Office, participating corn producers reported a harvest of 203 – 246 bushels per acre; these same farmers irrigated their fields with anything from six acre-inches/acre to 17.5 acre-inches/acre; the average water use on a water technology farm was 12.8 acre-inches/acre. The ongoing success of this program serves as an effective testimonial for the future of water conservation across the state. K-State’s expertise and involvement has helped make the program a success, and water technology farm landowners and producers are able to send a clear message to their neighbors and communities: significant water conservation while maintaining good crop yields can be done, because it has been done.

Institutional Partners:

K-State Research and Extension (SW Research Extension Center), Agronomy, Ag Economics, Biological and Agricultural Engineering

Institutional Impact:

Through close community relationships and partnership with the Kansas Water Office, extension professionals are able to co-develop Water Technology Field Days throughout the state of Kansas. The events are an opportunity for K-State to showcase its practical research and interact with irrigation equipment manufacturers and representatives.