04-06-17 NRCS CO-Holyoke: Irrigation System Improvements Targeted Conservation Project

NRCS CO-Holyoke: Irrigation System Improvements Targeted Conservation Project

It is estimated that over 50% of irrigation pumping stations in Phillips County are operating with older inefficient electric motors leading to high energy costs.  The irrigated producers in Phillips County are part of the Republican River watershed and are faced with potential allocation adjustments.  In addition, the Ogallala Aquifer, of which Phillips County resides, continues to experience steady decline in both water storage level and recharge.  Irrigators are faced with increasing regulations with the Colorado/Kansas/Nebraska Republican River Compact.  In season monitoring and documentation of actual water applied is essential to producers, as well as to the longevity and sustainability of the regions water resources.  With increasing energy costs more efficient motors will be essential in alleviating some of the financial burden on the producers. With improved irrigation technology (moisture sensors) producers will have better tools to utilize in making real-time and even predictive management decisions.

Recently the Haxtun Conservation District submitted a proposal through the USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to address these high energy costs.  The proposal was preapproved and potentially up to $500,000 will be set aside through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) for this project.   The goal of this proposal is to educate irrigators and provide cost incentives to increase the usage of innovative tools and practices by area producers, in an effort to better inform decision makers and promote the use of current best management practices for irrigation.  Through an ASABE S612 Stds energy audit producers will also provide documentation for improved more efficient electric motors.  The goal is to achieve upwards of 75% efficiencies on electric motors.

The educational component of the project will bring an awareness of the need and importance of real time irrigation water management and a basis for making long and short term management decisions.  Specific practices targeted will be Irrigation Water Management and Pumping Plants.  These tools will help producers more efficiently apply water and reduce the strain on the Ogallala Aquifer. There are approximately 88,000 irrigated acres in the county.  High energy costs and declining commodity prices has placed a financial burden on producers.

Contact the Holyoke NRCS office or Haxtun Conservation District at 970-854-2812 Ext 3 for more information.