Fertigation Trial Participation
For this week's on-farm research field day we are excited to have @jstansell87 sharing about his graduate research. These studies use drone imagery to inform fertigation decisions for more efficient N use. @mleecpnrd @UNL_BSE @waterforfood @NebrWaterCenter @LowerLoupNRD @UNL_IANR pic.twitter.com/suLCzYWXCX
— NE On-Farm Research (@OnFarmResearch) June 26, 2020
Update – Cease & Desist Orders
9 of the 92 producers who received cease and desist orders in April remain out of compliance with CPNRD’s Rules and Regulations. The orders were issued for failure to submit 2020 Nitrogen management forms and/or Nitrogen management tests. Irrigators in Phases II/III of the NRD’s Groundwater Quality Management Program are required to submit annual reports online at cpnrd.gisworkshop.com by March 31 annually. The reports are required prior to the irrigation season to allow producers to utilize UNL’s recommended nitrogen application rate; which is calculated as the producers fill out the forms for each of their fields. The cease and desist order will be violated if the producer irrigates. Penalties for violation are potential fines ranging from $1,000 – $5,000 per violation and/or loss of irrigated acres, ineligibility for NRD cost-share, and restriction from transferring irrigated acres. For more information about the crop reporting form or the Groundwater Quality Management Program, visit cpnrd.org or contact Tricia Dudley at (308) 385-6282 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Annual Crop Reports Due March 31
Irrigators within Central Platte NRD’s Nitrogen Management Phase 2 and 3 areas of the NRD’s Groundwater Quality Management Program. are required to submit their annual crop reports for nitrogen management online at cpnrd.gisworkshop.com by March 31. The deadline was set for March 31 to allow producers to utilize UNL’s nitrogen recommendation for the upcoming irrigation season; which produces a recommendation for each field as users enter their data.
The Program is set up as a long-term solution to monitor and reduce high groundwater nitrate levels within the District. The Program is having a beneficial impact on the nitrate levels in groundwater. Producers have been instrumental in the success of the program by implementing best management practices and newer more efficient technologies. Average nitrate levels throughout the District have been reduced from 19 parts per million (ppm) to 13 ppm since the Program was implemented in 1987.
On the reporting form, irrigators are required to provide all crops grown and actual yields for 2019. Those who grow corn, sorghum, and potatoes must also list fertilizer applied as pre-emergent or side-dress, irrigation water applied, and legal description of wells irrigating the crop. Producers are also required to report the crop to be grown in 2020, expected yields, water and soil test results, credits for past legume crop and manure/sludge, and UNL’s recommended nitrogen application rate.
Producers who do not submit the report forms by the March deadline will be in violation of the CPNRD Rules and Regulations. Violations will be enforced prior to the 2020 irrigation season. Cease and Desist orders will be mailed to producers who fail to submit forms by the March 31st deadline. Potential penalties for violation are the possibility of a fine ranging from $1,000 – $5,000 per violation and/or loss of irrigated acres, ineligibility for NRD cost-share, and restriction from transferring irrigated acres.
For more information about the crop reporting form or the Groundwater Quality Management Program, visit cpnrd.org or contact Tricia Dudley at (308) 385-6282 or email@example.com.
1/23/20 Violation Report Tricia Dudley, water quality programs assistant, reported that 10 producers who received cease and desist orders in December had not resolved their violations for failure to submit their 2019 Nitrogen Management forms and/or tests. CPNRD legal counsel will contact the following individuals about potential penalties: Andrew Blessin, Kenesaw; William/Hazel Johnston, Vacaville CA; John Kearney, Overton; Mike Munsterman, Glenville; Jeff Perry, Shelby; Donald Santin Jr, Fullerton; William Soll, Columbus; Tim Sullivan, Lincoln; Richard Urban, Silver Creek; Quincy Week, Kearney. Irrigated acres under a cease and desist order cannot be irrigated until they are in compliance with the District’s Groundwater Management Program. The forms are due March 31st each year. Potential penalties for violation are: fines of $1,000 – $5,000 per violation and/or a loss of irrigated acres, ineligibility for NRD cost-share, and restriction from transferring irrigated acres.
Crop Reporting Website The Crop Reporting Website is updated with more user-friendly features! Each page of the form is now auto-saved. UNL’s recommended Nitrogen application rates are visible and adjusted as you fill out the form, so you will see the results of each application. And you’ll receive an email receipt when your form is submitted successfully. cpnrd.gisworkshop.com
Nitrogen Certification Nitrogen certification is valid for 4 years. Producers with certification expiring will receive a certification test to be completed and returned to the CPNRD office. Certification from other districts is accepted and producers who attend CPNRD’s annual Water Programs Update are not required to complete the test.
MANAGING GROUNDWATER QUALITY FOR 30 YEARS
In 1987, Central Platte NRD’s Groundwater Quality Management Program was the first in the Central Platte Valley to address widespread high groundwater nitrate problems. Over the last 30 years, nitrate levels in the groundwater and vadose zones have been reduced using a long-term, common sense management approach. Until the Program was adopted, nitrate levels in some areas had increased to 19 ppm; now the current average is down to 13.3 ppm.
Changes have been made over the years. Cost-share practices that help producers reduce water and fertilizer applied have been modified to implement new practices. Reporting requirements have also evolved with the reporting form now online to save producers time and taxpayers money. Prior to the online form, CPNRD’s data compliance officer would manually enter up to 7,000 forms annually. Nearly 800 producers participate in the Program and are credited for lowering contamination levels through their management efforts. Another effective learning tool is the 400 demonstration sites located on local producers’ fields. Although average nitrate levels have dropped 5 ppm in 30 years, there are still high nitrate areas throughout the District. The NRD will continue to work with producers to implement best management practices and regulations as needed to reach safe nitrogen levels in our groundwater.
In 2016, parts of southern Hall and northern Hamilton counties, south of the Platte River, were transferred from Phase I to Phase II Groundwater Management Area due to increasing nitrate levels. In 2017, changes combined and updated the Rules and Regulations for all of the District’s groundwater management programs into the Groundwater Management Plan Rules & Regulations-General Provisions & Procedures for Enforcement. Two major changes included cease & desist enforcement procedures and removal of the 2-in-10 irrigation rule.
Additional Testing In 2016, an agreement with UNL was approved for $80,000 to revisit 27 vadose zone core sites originally collected in the 1990s, and to determine where additional cores may best characterize nitrate storage & estimated transport rates to the water table. Core samples were collected for vadose zone nitrate including some areas previously sampled. The 2017 report showed locations of the first 8 core samples collected with a comparison of nitrate profiles to previous time periods, and the estimation of nitrate transport rates at each location. The 27 sites collected between 1990-1996 were digitized and used to compare profiles to determine how fast nitrate is moving and whether changing land use management has resulted in reduced loading of nitrate in the vadose zone. All of the sites are being used for ag production. Eight of the sample results indicate lowering Nitrogen fertilizer applied, reducing irrigation water, and changing land-use practices at the surface may be lowering the nitrate concentrations in the vadose zone. Annual reports are provided by UNL.
Phase I is generally the portion of the District in which the average nitrates are from 0 to 7.5 ppm
Phase II is generally those areas that have an average nitrate concentration of 7.6 to 15 ppm
Phase III is generally those areas with an average nitrate concentration of 15.1 ppm and higher.
Phase IV: Area where nitrate levels are not declining at an acceptable rate.
Because the phases are by area, individual wells in a Phase Area may be higher or lower than the designated range of nitrate concentrations. Other factors, including proximity to a municipal water supply and vadose zone nitrates, are also used in determining the Phase Areas.
MAPS of each Phase Area: http://cpnrd.gisworkshop.com Click “Yes” on the Disclaimer. Locate “Layers” at the top right of the page and select which map you’d like. To print maps, locate “Tools” on the top left and click the print icon.
Irrigation Water Quality—A Contemporary Water Quality Perspective
by Arindam Malakar, UNL, firstname.lastname@example.org; Daniel D. Snow, UNL, email@example.com; Chittaranjan Ray, UNL, firstname.lastname@example.org
How CPNRD’s Groundwater Quality Program was Developed
Until the Central Platte NRD’s Groundwater Quality Management Program was adopted, the nitrate level in the high Nitrate area of the District had increased at a rate of about 0.5 ppm/year to 19.24 ppm. At the end of the first crop year under the program, the level dropped by 0.3 ppm and continued to drop through the 1993 crop year. Adverse weather conditions resulted in increases during the 1994 and 1995 crop years, but, a lowering of the nitrate rate occurred again after the 1996 and 1997 crop years.
In 1999, nitrate levels in the NRD’s high-nitrate area dropped from 17.41 ppm from spring 1998 to 16.62 ppm spring 1999. The drop is credited to landowners in the District using better management practices recommended by the NRD and the University of Nebraska- Lincoln. Farmers from throughout the District, with varying soils and conditions, were recruited to work with the NRD in using the best management practices to demonstrate that nitrates can be managed efficiently and effectively while maintaining crop yields. In addition, many of the tools needed by the farmers to establish best management practices, including fertilizer calibration meters, irrigation well hour meters, surge valves, vertical dam manifolds, irrigation flow meters, and reuse pits, were encouraged through the availability of cost-sharing by the District. Research indicated that most farmers did not know how much water they were using during irrigation, so the Board decided to make mandatory the practice of monitoring well outputs in Phases II/III. A well-measuring program was adopted, and later revised, that could determine how much water is being used. Wells in Phase III must be measured by the NRD by 1998 and in Phase II by 2000.
To facilitate increased water management, the District developed its Splash program to provide one-on-one education for the producer who voluntarily participated. The producer received weekly irrigation assistance on one field and a complete evaluation of his or her irrigation system. In return, the producer is expected to share the experience with other producers and consider improved irrigation techniques. To supplement these education and cost-share funding portions of the program, the NRD adopted rules and regulations to assure that certain minimum changes would occur.