Lead Researchers: Dayle McDermitt, Billy Tiller, Mark Cox,
Amy Harcsh, Jim Schnieder, Erin Haacker
Contact: Dayle McDermitt
Industry Partners: Nebraska Water Balance Alliance, Paulman Farms,
Twin Platte Natural Resources District, Olsson Associates,
Grower Information Services Cooperative (GiSC) 

Abstract: Using two test areas in western Nebraska—one with stable well depths and outputs, the other with in-season variability in well depth and output—this project will evaluate and compare the accuracy of a new tool that uses energy use records to estimate consumptive water use. This analysis will help improve the ability to use energy use data to provide producers accurate, real-time information about their water use, giving the producer and the regulator a common lens to evaluate action and response at multiple scales.

Knowing how much water to apply and when and related watershed impact is invaluable to both producers and watershed managers and critical information for effective near- and longer-term management of water and energy resources.

The team set out to compare the accuracy of flow calculations made by the AgHub tool that measures pumped water in near-real time using power use data, well output, and field size, using a study population of ten wells located at Paulman Farms that have either static or variable water tables during the irrigation season.  The team installed well depth sensors and telemetering flow meters, drilled an aquifer monitoring well, compared measured water delivery to values computed from electrical data, and compared actual aquifer drawdowns to modeled data using the Groundwater Evaluation Toolbox (GET). 

This program’s partner, Grower Information Services Cooperative (GiSC), is owned by its farmer members and is involved in managing a Water Data Program (WDP) for the Twin Platte Natural Resource District (TPNRD) and its irrigators. The discovery of new insights related to using electricity data to measure the quantity of irrigation applied to specific fields will be translated by GiSC into new insights for irrigators in TPNRD and beyond. Though pandemic-related delays lengthened the timeline to complete this project, now that initial installation of necessary infrastructure is complete, preliminary data collected so far are promising. Data collection will continue during the 2021 growing season.