New Technologies in Agronomy + Irrigation - Kurt Grimm, NutraDrip CEO

New Technologies in Agronomy + Irrigation - Kurt Grimm, NutraDrip CEO

Show Video

All right. I want to welcome everybody here this morning. Seth just making sure we're good to go, okay. Appreciate everybody taking time to come.

Got a little bit of a smaller turn out. The good weather is some guys are in the field already, so we've got a few more guys showing up and we've got several people joining online and today will be recorded so everything that we're talking about here today will be online and eventually on YouTube. We do record all of these grower meetings so if you want to go back and listen to things we've talked about in the past, those are all online as well. So we'll do a couple quick introductions.

We've got a few a couple of new faces here that we need to introduce. We have a new Netafim rep covering our area. So Davey Rock is with us here today.

Say hello to Davey. If you get time today, Davey lives in Southwest Minnesota near Laverne and is our new Netafim rep. Jason Scheibel and Jim Ed Beach are both still with Netafim, they've just moved to different positions. Still have them, available and definitely helping us. John Sudgen with DLL Finance is in the back. So John does financing for subsurface drip irrigation systems through DLL.

We use their program a fair amount. So if growers want to finance a drip system, they're able to provide financing without taking a mortgage on the land. That's probably the differentiator between going to the local bank and being able to finance it through DLL. So great program from DLL. If you have any questions on that today, definitely look up John.

Those finance terms, right now, the interest rates are 7.74, fixed for five years, five to seven years, 84 months. It's a really good program. There's no prepayment penalties, so it's a great financing option that we have, financing drip system.

Keep that in mind. Okay, I'm going to get started here this morning. The order of events, we've had a few changes. 2 of the 2 of the speakers that were coming, 1 got covid and the other 1, his wife had an accident and he had to stay with her. We're changing our schedule up a little bit. I'm going to go 1st, give you some of the new things we're working on.

Then Travis Rokey is going to talk on soil moisture probes. We're going to do a panel then from 11 to 12, Kelly Garrett will be here with us and my brother Galen. So just some question and answers, so be ready for some questions and things to pepper them with, see if you can stump them.

After lunch Greg Creson is here with us from California. He's going to talk on water quality and has a really great presentation on the impact that water has on nutrient availability in the soil, and what we can do to mitigate that. Then Jason Mashoff will wrap it up this afternoon with some of our agronomy things that we're rolling out for this year. With that we'll get started here.

I'm going to go through, I'm going to go really fast on my first part of the presentation here. Most of you have been here before or have a system or are putting the system in, and the first part of this is more of an overview of subsurface drip irrigation. For those of you that haven't been here before we started this in the fall of 2012.

Put in our first drip irrigation system there a couple miles north of here. The oldest system that we have is now 11 years old. It's still working very well for us.

We have systems in Nebraska that we maintain that are 38 years old. Subsurface drip, if it's properly maintained, is something that can last a long time. Right direction here. We have center pivot irrigation as well.

So we can speak to both of those and a lot of what we're going to talk about with agronomy, water quality, soil moisture probes, all of those things cover both center pivots and drip irrigation. You know where we're at because we're here today. This is the first farm that we installed. It's two miles north of here. We had a water supply developed and had a center pivot over here, and we're trying to figure out how to irrigate an odd shape field. So that was really where we started.

Since then this is where we've grown to. So it's in Nebraska. Nebraska is definitely our number one market.

We're doing a lot of work up into Minnesota and South Dakota and then some stuff out farther east. The crew is in Kentucky this morning working on a project there. We're already in the ground and wheels are turning. So that's a good feeling to have that going.

Our team has grown. I think we're up to, we'll be somewhere around 35 to 40 employees here this summer. We are using a TN Visa program that has worked very well for us, so we get a lot of really good workers. Carlos is back there in the yellow jacket in the back. He's an electrical engineer for Mexico.

He does a fantastic job with controllers, automation. We've got several agronomists, irrigation engineers that we've brought up to help us. We are hiring. So if anybody knows of anybody looking for a job or wants to join our team, we're hiring not only here, but in Nebraska. We would hire any qualified individual that walked in the door today. We're definitely adding to our workforce right now.

I'll skip through some of this. We start a lot of fields. They're odd shaped. We can cover any size and shape of field. We have pressure compensated emitters. This is just a quick little video on how the emitters work and what's on the inside of the drip line.

We've got that turbulent flow path that the water's going through. It looks like a little tornado as debris goes through there. This is really the lifeblood of a drip system, is making sure that emitter stays clean. Making sure we don't plug that up. So having good fertilizer sources, which we're going to talk a little bit about today to use a clean fertilizer that will go through the drip line, not plug it up. We have pressure compensating and non pressure compensating emitters.

So the yellow and orange line are non pressure compensating. So as the pressure increases, the flow increases. We have the green line here is pressure compensated. Once we get to six pounds of pressure, it's going to put out the same amount of water, all the way up to 50 pounds of pressure.

We can go up and down hills. Kelly Garrett will share some of the work that we've done there at his place as well in, in some really big hills up in Iowa. We're doing all shapes and sizes of the field. This is a project we did in north central Iowa. It's 670 acres.

The grower had looked at putting center pivots on it. It was going to take five pivots and it was only going to irrigate 500 out of the 700 acres. We were able to put drip on, cover the whole thing, and we were actually a lower cost per acre than putting pivots on it. It's not just for small fields. We're starting to get a lot of larger projects. This is that same field with all the zones.

We have different zones. We can irrigate it and manage it according to what the crop needs and what the soil types are in those zones. Some of those zones are sand.

Some are heavier soil. We can manage that differently. The installation process, most of you have seen this. We plow it in with three point equipment.

We come through on the end of the field and trench through and connect both ends of the field. One end is feeding it, the other end is flushing the drip line. Flushing is a really important part to keep it clean and keep it open.

Every system gets a filter system to clean that water, make sure we're not plugging it up, get the debris out. Any minerals that would potentially plug up the drip line, we have to address and make sure we're sending clean liquid to the field .Which we'll talk a lot about water quality here after lunch. Valve stations. So these are the valves that control the zones and those are tied back to a controller.

You can run those from your phone and and operate that remotely. This is an example of a drip design. In this case, we've got a sub main on this end of the field.

This is a 200 acre project by Sioux City, and the water flows to the north. This is a flush line on the north end of the field, and then we have all the different zones. He's growing corn on this side last year. He has alfalfa here in the middle, and then he's got soybeans over here on the other side. He can split up different crops, manage things differently according to what the grower wants. This is what an online dashboard looks like for a drip system, so we can see what the flow, the pressure is.

We can monitor that. We can turn it on and off from our phone. We can write fertigation prescriptions and tell it when to fertigate and how much.

This is actually the project in Kentucky where we did phase one last year. We did 100 acres last year and we're adding a second 100 acres this year. He is using food waste digest.

He's got a food waste digester, so about 40 percent of his liquid is food waste digestate and then he blends fresh water with that. I'll talk a little bit more in a second here about some of the work we're doing with manure. So a few frequently asked questions. Depth of drip line.

We're going 10 to 16 inches deep depending on soil type, tillage practices. Those are the main things that determine how deep we're gonna go. We don't like to go or ever go below 16 inches just because if we get deeper than that, we're gonna have a hard time moving those nutrients into the root zone. So keeping that drip line. Somewhere in that 10 to 16 is the sweet spot.

Spacing between the drip lines is anywhere from 30, 40, or 60 inches. Again, that's going to be determined by soil type, what's your row spacing is and what your budget is. Those are the three main considerations. If we have a sandy soil, we have to go either 40 or 30.

We've got some heavier loams or clays. We can do either 40 or 60. How much water do you need? On the low end, we need two gallon per minute per acre. On the high end, we need five gallon per minute per acre. So that's the range we like to shoot for. At two gallon, a minute, an acre, we put an inch on every 10 days.

So we can do three inches a month. At five gallon per minute per acre, we can do an inch every four days. Put out eight inches a month. If we have that much water supply. How long does it last? We talked a little bit about that, 25 to 30 years is what our answer typically is.

Again, there are systems that have lasted longer than that. The thing that would fail if a drip system were to stop working is if those emitters plugged. So we've got to keep those emitters clean. That's the lifeblood of the system.

Cost per acre currently most systems are in that 2, 500 an acre range. There's some above that, some below that, depending on the shape and size of field, but most systems fall somewhere in that range. What does maintenance look like on a drip system? We have spring startup, so right now we've got a crew headed down to Garnett, Kansas to do a startup this morning. We're going out pressurizing the system, checking for leaks, and then we're going to fix anything that we have in the field that's gone wrong over the winter. Make sure everything's buttoned up ahead of planting or before the crop gets canopied where we can see what's going on. Second part is winterization.

Depending on how far north you are we may need to blow it out with air. We have a route. We come around with a big air compressor and winterize the systems and then acid flushing. Acid flushing is basically pumping some acid through the drip line to clean those emitters. So super important to make, again, I keep going back to that, keeping those emitters open is important, and that's what the acid flush is about.

It's like changing the oil in your tractor. It's that preventive maintenance, make sure the system's going to last a long time. Things that can go wrong, rodents are certainly something that we always address. They can chew holes in this.

If we were to install a drip irrigation system into a field that had an existing population of ground squirrels or pocket gophers, they would chew it up. We've got to make sure we don't have those. Typically we see that in sandy soils, a field that's had alfalfa on it, we've learned what are the things that attract gophers and so those are the ones we scout especially good.

There's different things we do to mitigate those risks but make sure and address them. We don't want to ignore that. Water quality, so iron and manganese are the two minerals that plug and drip systems up. We've got to address water quality, make sure if we have iron and manganese in the water, that we're filtering that out or doing something to mitigate.

Mitigate those two minerals to make sure they don't plug things up and then the maintenance training and support, we've learned that if we put a drip system in and walk away and don't help take care of it and teach and just continue to educate, it's a really important step to make sure a drip system last like it should and to perform like it should. Efficiency compared to pivot or flood irrigation. Flood irrigation, we're probably going to be at 50 percent of the water use of flood irrigation.

If we had a grower in Nebraska, for example, that was using 40 to 50 inches of water a year, put in a drip system, he's using 12 to 16 inches now. Substantial difference between flood and drip. Pivot to drip is a little more, it depends on the wind, the evaporation rates, what the humidity is, but probably 10 to 20 percent in this geography is what we're going to save on water compared to a center pivot. It depends on the nozzle package and things like that.

Covering, I would say the bigger difference between pivot and drip is we're going to cover all the acres and we can get 100 percent of the field. I'm not going to dive real deep into tissue sampling and some of the measurement things we're doing. We'll talk more about that with Kelly and Galen on the panel, but one thing I would say is that one of the things that we've learned is that we have to do more nutrients through the drip than we're doing preseason. Probably for 2024, one of the changes we're going to definitely be pushing for is on phosphorus and potassium. The cheapest form has always been dry broadcast, strip till however, nutrients have been applied, typically as a dry 0-60 or 11-52-0 We have seen substantial results by moving the phosphorus and the potassium into the drip line. It's more expensive per pound, but the efficiency is so much better that your actual cost per acre is going to be lower.

We've got some things we're working with. This ICL fertilizer is a dry, soluble acid we're going to be handling this year. We had a little bit of it last year. We're going to really start using a lot of it this year.

Basically it's a dry acid. You dump it in a tank, agitate it, stir some water a little bit. It goes into solution really easily and then you run that through the drip line. Again it's not as cheap as 11 52 0, for example, but it does a couple things.

It's going to how do I say this? Greg's going to get into bicarbonates and water quality and all of the things that, that are tying things up in the soil. This is an acid. That is going to release those nutrients in your soil. It's a synergistic thing that we're really starting to see that there's a difference between applying broadcast or strip till versus running those nutrients through the drip. That's one thing that in 2024 we're going to be talking a lot more about and wanting guys to really start thinking about moving more nutrients through the drip versus the standard applications.

We've done a lot of work on tissue sampling. We have thousands of tissue sample data points. This is just an example of a high yield grower on the green for potassium, low yield grower in the orange there. There's a hundred bushel difference between those two growers and there's a substantial difference in their potassium levels in the tissue, for example. We still are huge proponents of tissue sampling.

It's the best tool we have at this point to measure what's going on during the season and then be able to address that through the drip irrigation system. Using past data is the best method. Getting a history of tissue sampling and then being able to predict what your tissue samples are going to do and get ahead of that. In other words, it's not as effective to wait for a big drop, like this blue line here, and then say, oh, now I need to go get potassium and put it in the drip system. What we need to do is we need to have this data set.

Know that it's going to drop and inject that potassium two or three weeks ahead of that drop. That's much more effective. We've got a lot of tools. Jason Mashhoff will be talking a little bit more about that after lunch about how to use those and what we have to offer there. Thinking about the four R's of nutrient management, when we put nutrients through the drip, we hit on all these, right? We're putting it right at the right time, the right place, the right amount, and the right source and when this is done correctly, the potential is huge. This is some data out of Indiana on a drip system we put in at the Beck's PFR Farm.

They had been dry land, they had been in that 300 bushel range for 8 years. Sonny Beck came and said, I want to grow 400 bushel corn before I die, so we put a drip system in, started spoon feeding through the drip system, and within three years, they had a wind event here in 2019, but by 2020, they hit the 406. Now they're plateaued around 380. The possibilities are there, Kelly will attest to this, it can be done, it does require more management and it requires nutrients going through the drip system.

These are the things that, that we have some tools for, some other yield data that we've put together from some of our growers across the country. We're having a lot of really good success. Okay, I'm going to talk a little bit about some of the new tools using some of the newer things that we're working with. I'll go through these mostly in order, except for I'm going to jump down here to the bottom one because I don't have a slide for those. These are two tools that are new, that aren't proven. We've used them for one year, and the data says that they're not reliable enough.

And so the reason I bring this up is because if you hear about these tools, I'm going to say don't go buy them yet because they're not ready. Leaf tech, we'll talk about this one first. This is a a tissue sampling tool, where basically you go out to the corn field, you stick a corn leaf tissue in here, and you hook your smartphone up to this. It's Bluetooth to your phone, you push a button, and in two minutes, you have a full tissue analysis. Great idea, right? Love the idea. They use, it's called spectrometry, so there's a camera in there that can measure different colors, and they can determine the nutrient analysis in that tissue in two minutes.

What used to take us three days to send to a lab, and you could do unlimited samples. We used this tool in 2023, and let me just say it's not ready yet. They don't have it calibrated good enough.

The results, especially on nutrients like nitrogen and potassium, that are probably the most important, were all over the board. We were getting numbers from 2 % to 6%. We were asking them like, what part of the corn leaf do we put this on? Do we put it right against the stock or out at the tip? They don't have enough data to tell us where to scan at.

I think that the potential is there, but it's still what I would call in development. Great idea, love the idea, but maybe not quite ready for prime time. So we'll continue to test that tool this year and see if we can figure it out. We've got a a grower we work with down in South Central Kansas, and he's using it on alfalfa and on wheat, and he says it works. I'm still struggling with it on corn and soybeans to really get solid data. Chrysalab, I don't have it here with me because I actually sent it down to his place and he's working with it right now.

It's a soil probe that does the same thing. You core the soil out you got a hole in the ground, you stick this sensor in the ground, it sends a light wave out, and it gives you a soil analysis in 15 seconds. Great idea. Again, we did probably a hundred samples where that soil that we took out of the ground, to put the hole in, we sent it to a lab and compared lab analysis versus what the sensor said. It was not relatable enough, we did not feel like. Again, something that's coming.

That technology is out of Canada. Some guys over by Ontario developed that. The Leaf Tech is out of Indiana.

We know the gentleman that's developing that. I think he's a good guy, but think it's a little early to really get behind it and promote it. We're doing a lot of work with universities. If you follow along with any of these different universities, University of Illinois, Dr.

Fred Below has had a subsurface drip irrigation system I think 12 years. He has done extensive research on what does it take to get to 500 bushel. There's a lot of data on his website. They've given multiple presentations.

They're still doing research. We're still working with them. We're going to be sorting through some of that data this year and look forward to sharing some of the things they've learned. A couple years ago we had Stephen Schwartz here from University of Illinois and he gave a presentation, that's on YouTube. I went back and watched it the other day.

It was a great talk. A week ago we had a grower meeting up in Omaha and one of our growers from Minnesota planted 15 different hybrids on his drip field and he had a 350 bushel goal. He was doing all the things management wise. It was night and day difference on some hybrids responded to high management and some hybrids did not. That's actually what Stephen Schwartz's whole talk was on which hybrids will respond to high management and which ones won't.

I think we don't give enough attention to that. There was a 50 bushel difference on hybrids. If you looked at his hybrid selection, it was 50 bushel difference, all of them managed the same. Huge difference, I went back and looked at Steven's talk, a lot of it had to do with root structure, how the hybrids root what their grain fill period is how long that grain fill period is. A lot of good data out there on on hybrid selection and We've got our pioneer seed dealer here today, and I, just thinking about how do we dive into which hybrids really do the best. Jim I do off of his presentation for Illinois, but we don't have that here locally.

Maybe Jeremy can help us with that, or other seed guys that are in the room. I think that's something we've got to address is narrow down on some of those things, and we'll ask, we'll get Kelly's opinion on that later. Remind me to ask about that.

K State has had 29 years of continuous research on subsurface drip at Colby, Kansas. They've also got a drip system around Manhattan. Jeremy Olson did some work on that back in, what, early 2000s? Yeah, so Jeremy's got some research. We actually just dug it up the other day because he researched phosphorus through drip. Got a bunch of research on how does phosphorus through drip respond? And we're going back and looking at that research again and trying to make sure we understand what we need to do, what timing, what the rates are.

So some really good stuff that K State has. University of Nebraska, we just installed another system for them at their Mead Research Farm. K State and University of Nebraska have spent 95 percent of their time looking at water efficiency. They've not done a lot of work on the nutrient side.

So they've got the best research as far as saving water or water efficiency. University of Illinois and Purdue, we just installed a system for Purdue this past fall. They are looking at nutrients through the drip. That's what their focus is. Is how do we better manage nutrients on a subsurface drip irrigation system. So a unique perspective across the country.

And a lot of things I think we can learn from these guys. Okay. One of the, one of the tools we're probably, I don't know if I'm the most excited about, but I think has a ton of potential to really help us manage irrigation, whether it's pivot or drip. It's a thermal satellite that flies over the field every day between noon and 2 PM. Okay.

And it takes a temperature of your crop and then it goes, puts all that data into a model and kicks back out some maps and some other graphs that I'll show you here in a second. We were validating this tool in 2023 and this is really where I got hooked on it, is we were really dry the end of June. Those of you that are from around here end of June was just brutal. So we had the irrigation system on, typically we don't start irrigating until July, but we were irrigating pretty heavy in June. June 23rd, you can see zone number 3 here.

It's dry. It's the one that's showing a little bit of stress. It hasn't run and so that zone is definitely showing the stress compared to zones 1 and 2 beside it and 3 and, or 4 and 5 on the other side. June 24th, we turned zone 3 on and then you can see we got the whole field evened out by June 25th. Thinking about what are the tools that we can use give us a view of the entire field every single day.

For irrigation management, that is so important. Travis is going to talk about soil moisture probes. We had a soil moisture probe in this field, right up here in the corner.

We were watching it, but what kind of management decisions can I make if I'm only watching one spot? If it's a center pivot, it's going around every four or five days, a drip system, we've got multiple zones out there. How do I know, how do I make sure and know that all my zones are opening and operating like they're supposed to? Now I have a tool that I can see my entire field every single day and see what's going on in that field. This is a center pivot that we were watching over by Morrill. The same thing, you can see different areas of the field getting dry and wet at different times. Again, it was super effective. This is part of that same dashboard, they give us what's called a virtual soil moisture probe.

If you're familiar with soil moisture probes, you have a graph. You're trying to keep it between saturation, which is called field capacity and wilting point. That's the happy place that you want those plants to be. It's somewhere between those two points. So on this graph, the blue line is saturation.

The red line is wilting point. And we're trying to keep it between there. You can see this particular field.

This is down in southwest Missouri. It was really wet early. They dried out. Maybe even got a little too dry the end of June. They were dry down there as well and then rebounded once they got the irrigation really fired up and cranking.

Is a graph that shows which days they actually get an image taken. So if you're familiar with climate or some of the other imaging tools they say they're going to get a picture or an image every four to seven days. There's clouds, you miss a week, all of a sudden you've got two weeks of a gap in there. The only gaps we saw here that were substantial is between like August 1st and August 6th. We were wet and cloudy for a full week and they weren't able to see through those clouds.

The model continues to work in the background, so you still get some data, but you just don't have updated images. So the frequency is really important. I'm not going to say it's going to fly or that you're going to get an image every day, but it's close enough to every day to really add a lot of value. They have some irrigation planning tools that show the prediction of what that soil moisture is going to do based on the biomass.

They measure the biomass. There's a biomass index to this and gives you a lot. There's a lot of different tools that you can look at. One of them is actual ET. They're measuring evapotranspiration. Evapotranspiration is the amount of water that leaves your field every single day.

So they're measuring that and they give you a daily value of ET. You can see early in the season here in may, we're at like less than five hundredths of an inch. We get here to the first of middle of June.

We're at a 10th of an inch. By the time we get to July 25th, there were some days that field used between 4 tenths and a half inch a day. It gives you an actual value for what the evapotranspiration is on that field. Back up here, because we can get those graphs for every one of those zones. However we break the zones out when we set the field up, I can now get five, or I think I've got seven different soil moisture probes I can look at for each one of those zones.

So I can look at the zone to zone difference, and it's just a tremendous amount of data that we're able to get. This is actually on Kelly's field. We had an actual soil moisture probe, and then we had a virtual soil moisture probe. We were using the IrriWatch tool. You can see right here, we got the probe installed the end of June. There's always one of our challenges to get those installed at the right time, and then there was a large rain event, the 1st of July.

You can see the soil moisture probe pick that up, as did the virtual probe. Again, just by sensing, they're able to show when those rain events happen. The response that it dries out is maybe a little bit different. This is showing that it dried out slower. This showed it dried out quicker. But definitely got dry here at the same time that this showed it got dry.

I think there's some real usefulness here. Cost per acre, and Jason Mashoff will hit on this a little bit more later. It's $4. 75 an acre for a season. So it's a really economically priced tool that we think has a lot of value. We feel like the best.

Combination is an actual soil moisture probe combined with the virtual. Those give you a complete set of data to look at the entire field. Yeah, so the question is do they interface together? Do the virtual probe and the actual probe interface together? The answer today is no, but that's something we're talking to the probe companies and IrriWatch.

They both have APIs, we just have to hook them together. One of our challenges is which probe company to do that with. There's multiple options out there. We're trying to figure out who we're gonna marry together there. Great question. This is their new dashboard.

They're coming out with a new dashboard in April. It's a little more user friendly and gives a little better user interface. I talked about NutriSens a couple years ago. Basically this is a sensor that measures potassium and nitrate in the soil every day. So it's a sensor that instead of measuring moisture, it's measuring nutrient values.

It's got little ion sensors on the tip of this sensor. And we did this on a pilot project in 2022. Then in 2023 I wasn't able to get any, they had supply issues.

2024, I have 10 of these available. It measures the ions in the water similar to what a plant is going to see in the soil. A couple things that we learned that I think are worth discussing. The graphs look somewhat similar to soil moisture probes.

This is the nitrate value here that you're seeing. It climbs and falls somewhat similar to, to moisture. The slide that really, I think, tells the story here, is the top graph up here is potassium, and on this tool you install one sensor in the root zone, and you install a sensor under the root zone. In this case one was at 8 inches, and one was at 24 inches.

You can see that late in the season, this is the first of August, on corn, our potassium dropped like a rock. Okay, which we have always struggled with potassium in our soils. We never have enough of it during grain fill. This trend right here didn't surprise us, but it was, it's alarming. To see our potassium levels in the soil fall that fast. Our tissue samples did the same thing.

They just, they tank at that time. We really struggled to get enough potassium into the plant at the end of the season. So that was not a surprise. What was a surprise is this bottom one. So this is our nitrate, and at the end of the season, these are the same time frames, in August, our nitrate on the deep sensor goes through the rough. We do fall applied anhydrous.

We have heavy clay soils. Our CECs are 20 to 25, I think, on this field, and we have the belief that we don't leach nitrate. We think we've got 25 CEC, we can hold 250 pounds of nitrogen. It's not going to leach.

It's impermeable subsoil, but then we get this sensor in, and we find out that in August, our nitrate is below our root zone. Those are dollars that we just flushed down the toilet. I look at this and I think, okay, this is a heavy clay soil with a high CEC. What does it look like in a sand or a loam or something that does move water through the soil profile easily? I'm hoping to place these 10 sensors this year on some soil and other management practices where water moves through the soil easily. Think we have a lot of room for improvement on how we manage nitrogen going forward.

This is a really big deal because nitrate in the groundwater is going to be a bigger issue. For some of you it already is, if you're in Nebraska. In other parts of the country, nitrate and ground water is going to be quickly regulated, and I think this is part of the reason why. I'm going to queue this up a little bit for Greg. Greg's going to talk about water quality after lunch, but this is our center pivot north of here that we've, this is the oldest pivot we have.

I'm not picking on pivots because the same thing's going to happen with drip, but this is a water quality portion of this. In 2020, inside the pivot yielded 29 bushel than outside the pivot. Had great rainfall.

Everything was set up for great yields, and outside yielded better than inside. And the question is why? So we started digging into this a little bit. Greg's going to show some saturated paste stuff this afternoon. We were looking at available calcium in the soil was what we targeted and Greg will talk about this. Basically, we're tying up calcium with bad water. When I say bad, this is surface water which we typically think of as high quality rain water, but it has enough bicarbonates in it that it's offsetting the nutrients and the calcium in the soil and the plant can't get enough calcium.

If you look at a regular soil sample, so ammonium acetate would be the normal extraction method that they do on a standard soil sample that you would get from any lab. Both of these tests, they're at 20, basically at 2, 900. So you would say, that's plenty of calcium, there's no problem with this. But when we look at the H3A calcium, which is the plant available calcium, what is the plant actually able to see? We're at 337 versus 433, so we're 20 percent lower plant available calcium. The target for this is 600, so this one we're at almost half where we should be.

Here we're a little bit better, but we're still not anywhere where we're supposed to be. This afternoon, Greg talks about the saturated paste and some of the things we need to do to be addressing this. It's something that we have to address. We can't ignore what our water is doing in our soil. Okay, I'll get into a little bit of some of the work we're doing with manure.

Over here on the right, we've got a manure trailer we're working on right now, so feel free to take a look at what's going on. Over the last four to five years, we've had a number of producers where we've installed drip irrigation that have livestock, and the first thing that we worked on was putting a specialized screen in the lagoon and just taking the water off the top of the lagoon and sending it to a drip system. This has been working.

We've done this for four years, pumped at least a million gallons, probably a couple million gallons. With this method it has worked very well. If growers have lagoons, we feel like we have that pretty well figured out. Travis Rokey, his dad's been doing it.

Mervyn Schrock's been doing it over in Missouri, and that, that's been working really well. The next step for us was to get into the deep pit barns, so deep pit hog barns, dairy manure that's 8 to 10 percent solids. A lot more challenging to work with. Doing a two step separation. I don't have a picture of the first step, but this machine over here on the front of the trailer is what's called a horizontal screw press.

It takes out the large particles, gets the large pieces out of the manure, and then the second step is to go through this machine which is called a microfilter. This is a piece of equipment we found in Italy. The way it works is on the inside, there's a drum that spins and it's throwing the liquid through this screen. This liquid that comes through this screen is clean enough to go through a drip system. We did a couple hundred thousand gallons of hog manure and dairy manure.

On the dairy manure, we ran, I think, 200, 000 gallons, and we never flushed our filters. When it comes out of here it's super clean. It still is manure and it still has all the nitrate in it, all the potassium, the micros are in there. There's about 30 percent of the phosphorus that's in the, that's in the dry solids. We have a lot of work we're doing with this right now, a lot of interest in the livestock industry. If we can inject manure under the ground, during the growing season with no smell and no hauling I think it's going to be a huge win for everybody.

One of the other things that we've come up with here in the last, I guess it's been a year and a half now, we had a a Hutterite colony up in South Dakota that was building a new hog barn and they had looked at a system to aerate the manure. Basically it, it was a deep pit barn with an eight foot pit and there's a system out of Europe that you attach to the floor, and it bubbles air in the manure. Really expensive system, they use these big two inch pipes, but the quote they had gotten was cost prohibitive, so they came to us and they said, why couldn't we do this with a drip line? We looked at it, found a drip line that would allow us to pump air through it, that was durable enough, wouldn't let liquid go backwards through it, so in this hog pit, we attached a drip line to the floor of the pit every five foot. This is a 10, 000 head finishing barn, so it's a really large barn. We've got 17 zones in that barn and for 60 seconds, every 3 hours, we turn those zones on and we bubble air through the manure. It lowers the ammonium in the barn by about 50%.

When you walk in the barn the burning smell in your nose is almost non existent. There's higher nitrogen values in the manure because that ammonia that's gassing off is all nitrogen leaving your barn and going in the atmosphere. We have a direct correlation to less ammonia and higher in the manure. A whole bunch of other benefits.

Our second project is being installed on a beef confinement barn. We've got two other barns in South Dakota we're quoting right now. This is a new thing that we're working on that you'll probably hear about unrelated to drip. It's not directly related.

The one thing I would say though is a barn that has pit aeration is going to be much easier to separate. We're thinking like those barns are going to be really easy to put a separation system on. One of the things we're going to research for 2024, thinking about our separation equipment and what we're doing with manure. Now we're thinking what else could we do with that? What else could we potentially do now that we have this clean manure? One of the things we tested in the greenhouse this winter is we took some of that dairy manure that we had separated and we basically simulated an in furrow treatment of manure versus no starter at all. There was about a 3 day emergence difference from where we put manure. We did a 5, 10 and 15 gallon a acre rate versus nothing.

We did a second test where we added some biologicals to it, added some humates to it, and the humates and biologicals were synergistic, and that gave us an even better response. We're starting to think what else could we do with this? The livestock guys, we work with some large dairies and manure is a liability to that dairy. They're always trying to figure out, how do I get rid of it? It ends up costing them money at the end of the year to get rid of that manure. We don't have livestock, and so I would pay to get that manure. Problem is, it's 400 miles away. We come at it from a different perspective.

To me, it has value, and I'm always trying to figure out how do we get these farmers that don't have manure tied up with the guys that have excess. So thinking about how do we add value and be able to use manure in maybe some places we normally don't. Okay, green lightning. How many of you have heard of green lightning? This is the last new thing for the day. This is a a new technology that, I'm gonna go to the yield data first here. So Jason Webster at the PTI farm in Illinois was given a machine last year to test, and this is his data.

We have two sets of data, so let's start with that. We only have two sets of data. So super new technology. You're going to leave saying it's too good to be true, and I agree, it is too good to be true, so let's take it with a grain of salt. Over here on the left, 32 percent at 180 pounds an acre, yielded 267 bushel.

This is dry land. Control, so he didn't put any nitrogen, good black Illinois dirt, he still made 170 bushel. You can see, big difference between 32 percent and no nitrogen, 98 bushel difference. Now we go across here and we look at where he applied 88 gallon of sidedress green lightening with 15 gallons of foliar and he's up to 281 bushel an acre. So where he used green lightening, compared to 32%, it's 14 bushel better. All of these checks in between here are green lightening at increasing rates.

Pretty direct relation. Between the amount he applied versus what the yield is. Okay, so that's one set of data.

Pretty compelling. Jason Webster wasn't paid to do this. It was, I would say unbiased research that he did. The next set of data we have is on potatoes in Washington. This was a paid research.

I've talked to the gentleman that ran the research and we've looked through the data and it looks pretty solid. Potatoes use between three and four hundred pounds of nitrogen a year. They're a big nitrogen user. Where they applied no fertilizer that yielded 12 tons an acre, 28 percent excuse me, 300 pounds of 28 percent yielded 25.

8, 160 gallons of green lightning yielded 28 tons. Okay, so these are the two data sets we have. This is the machine. Super simple. This is a small machine, the ones that are commercially available are six of these tied together. This is the commercially available unit.

It's got six of these. They call them heads. In one, they sit over the top of a mini bowl.

So it's a footprint of about four foot by four foot. You feed water into the machine here. This is a water tank. It goes through this device here and comes out the bottom.

This is green lightning water. Okay. There's a couple challenges with this. Number one is if you send this to a lab, the lab says it's nothing but water. It cannot detect anything in the water. We have some dip strips, so it's similar to what you take for a swimming pool and check your chlorine or pH.

These are for nitrate. If I put this dip strip in here, it will turn colors. It says there's nitrate in there, but for some reason, the lab says there's not. It's not detectable by standard testing methods. The cost to generate this nitrogen will be somewhere around $2 an acre. The farmer is going to own this machine, you're going to make your own nitrogen, for a cost of about $2 an acre for a 200 bushel corn crop.

If it works, it's going to change the nitrogen industry. Getting a few chuckles back there. We're about 70 percent on board with this. We've looked at it.

This is our 2nd unit and we've had 1 of these running in the greenhouse this winter. We did some testing with some corn. We've got some wheat growing over here underneath some grow lights.

Our corn got too cold in January and froze. So we lost that test, but what we had seen so far was inconclusive. The wheat, we just got it going and we'll be doing some spoon feeding nitrogen on that, both foliar and through the drip.

We've sold 10 of these units, so we're a dealer for this company. We've sold 10 of them for different growers that are saying, I want to try it. There will be somewhere that it won't work. I don't know where that is. Some farming practice, some kind of water, it can't be this good.

But I think it's worth looking at. The data is super compelling. I personally know one of the business owners.

It was invented by a man in Florida. His name is Joe Lewis. He's he came from the engine industry and he was developing a technology to clean the exhaust off of diesel engines and remove all the nitrous oxide.

Basically he figured out how to remove nitrous oxide, but in the process he learned how to put nitrogen in water. If you Google green lightning, is what is referred to as the effect of a thunderstorm. A lot of people would say that after a thunderstorm, things green up. There's some kind of nitrogen credit that happens with rain. That's basically what this is doing. It's taking nitrogen from the air.

The air we breathe is 80 percent nitrogen, 19 percent oxygen, and it's concentrating that or putting that in the water. We could spend a couple hours talking about this. Jason Mashoff is one of our in house experts on it. Feel free to ask him questions at lunch.

I'll be around. We're excitedly cautious. Put it that way. Is that a good way to describe it? Terry. Yeah.

A six head unit is $38, 500. Correct. Those are available. They're saying eight week lead time right now, if anybody wants to be an experimenter, that's really where we're at right now.

We're in the phase where we've got to prove this out, we've got to test it but if it works it's too good to be true, but it appears to work. There is a unit that they're going to label as blue lightning for organic. They're going to call it a water conditioning unit. Instead of a nitrogen generator, they've already met some resistance on the organic certification calling it nitrogen.

So they're going to re label it and call it water conditioning instead of nitrogen. Brian. Foliar is their preferred method of application. We still are figuring out, can it go through drip? Jason Webster did most of his as a side dress, which was a, basically a Y drop, a homemade Y drop unit, but yeah through irrigation, pivot, drip, we're going to be testing all of those on our farm this year. We're going to have a unit here, a large unit.

A large unit will produce 150 gallons a day. And the rate per acre is going to be, depending on your yield goal, somewhere between 75 and 150 gallons an acre. Nitrogen equivalent in a gallon of green lightning liquid will be 2 gallons, or excuse me, 2 pounds per gallon.

So if you wanted to, if you said I wanted to put out 200 pounds of nitrogen, you'll use 100 gallons of liquid to get that 200 pounds of nitrogen. How stable? So they're saying it can be stored for up to three years. They do there's some conflicts about whether or not it needs to be in a black tank versus a clear tank in the sun. There's no salt in it, so it's gonna freeze. So you have to keep that in consideration. Because they've had success foliar, we think it's fairly stable.

That's been their primary method as far as foliar. One of the, and I forgot to put this slide in here, but one of the data sets on the potato trial is we have their tissue analysis from that. The tissue analysis dropped more than the 28 percent did, but it came back up at the end of the season. But the end of the season, they were the same so we're trying to figure out what are tissue samples going to look like using the green lightning? It's still a little bit undecided, but we'll learn there. Any other questions on green lightning? Mervin? So the question is, does the pit aeration system we're doing, does that eliminate the gas that ignites It should eliminate most of it if we do it often enough.

So one of the things we're still experimenting with is how often we run the aeration. We were doing every three hours. Then I backed it up to every eight hours and that was too long of a break. And so now we're going to go the other direction.

We're going to run it every two hours, every one hour, but we can adjust how much we're running it. We're actually have some sensors in the barn measuring ammonia and hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is the one that kills you and kills animals, and we've basically eliminated hydrogen sulfide.

It's almost at zero. In a pit barn, one of the things we've learned and I'm learning about manure more than I thought I ever would. In a deep pit barn, in a hog barn for example, that's an anaerobic pit. Anaerobic pits, just like an anaerobic digester that they're putting up at dairies and livestock facilities, give off methane.

That methane is what explodes, and so when you keep that from ever going completely anaerobic, we're not truly aerobic, we're in between. It's called facultive. I learned that term the other day. We're in between anaerobic and aerobic, but the methane gas should be eliminated or greatly reduced.

We're trying to figure out how we're going to clean out old barns to install that. Right now we're working on new barns. Excited to see what we learn this year on that. I think that was everything I had. Oh, one other thing that you're going to start hearing more about greenhouse gases.

We're going to pepper Kelly with questions on carbon credits and things like that, but one of the new things that's coming is greenhouse gas emissions. It's a driving term that we're hearing from USDA and NRCS, when you apply manure, nitrogen, all of those things have an emission that they leave the soil. So there's a bunch of research out there that shows how much subsurface drip reduces. Things like nitrous oxide ammonia emissions, most of the research has been done in California on other crops, and so that's one of the things we're getting involved with this year, is starting to quantify some of those greenhouse gas emissions, and eventually there will be a government program, similar to converting flood to drip, there will be a government program that will probably pay producers for using and applying water and nutrients through a subsurface drip irrigation system. So a lot of things we're working on in that space we're still learning but it's definitely interesting work. All right, any other questions?

2024-03-11 17:15

Show Video

Other news