North Dakota State University: Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Dept.

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Our project titled the "Effect of Optimal Water Management for Sustainable and Profitable Crop Production and Improvement of Water Quality in Red River Valley" is funded through the Sustainable Agricultural Research & Education (SARE) grant.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Setting Up the Observation Wells for Measuring the Water Level in the Field

The HOBO Water Level Logger is applied to measure the water level in the field. Each water level logger is installed in a observation well. As shown in the picture, the tube of observation well above ground is buried before tilling (planting) or harvesting and raised again after planting or tilling (harvesting). A JUNO handheld GPS device and a metal detector are used to locate the buried observation wells.

Installation of Snow Gauge for the Snowfall Measurement

A TR-525USW Rain Gauge (Texas Electronics, Ins.) with a CS705 Precipitation Adapter ( Campbell Scientific, Inc.) has been installed near the Eddy Covariance system in north Moorhead field. It uses the Campbell Scientific CS705 Antifreeze to measure the melted snowfall in winter. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Soil Infiltration Test

Debjit Roy, a PhD student in Dr. Xinhua Jia's research group conducted a series of soil infiltration testing. 

Soil Sampling Above the Drain Tile

Jim Moos dug a trench above the drain tile.

Dr. xinhua Jia collected 10 soil samples above each drain tile.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Dr. Xinhua Jia and her ABEN 484/684 class, Drainage and Wetland Engineering, visited the SARE project site on Saturday, October 4, 2014.

Gerry Zimmerman, far right, explained his subdrainage control structures to the students.

Measuring subirrigation efficiency and uniformity on two subirrigated fields in the Red River Valley

Although subirrigation has proven to be effective in supplying water to crops in Red River Valley, no research has been done to establish the water use efficiency (WUE) and/or uniformity coefficient (UC) for this practice. This project helps quantity the benefits of subirrigation, and shows its effectiveness in supplying water throughout the soil profile, both vertically and horizontally.

There are two SI experimental sites used for this project, one in Richland County, ND and the other in Clay County, MN. The Richland county site is 116 acres with two separate gravity-fed subirrigation system of 4 inch laterals installed at 0.23% grade and 30 ft spacing. The Clay county site is 150 acres with a gravity-fed subirrigation system of 3 inch laterals installed at 0.1% grade and 40 ft spacing. The WUE is determined using in-field soil sampling and in-lab soil moisture determination method. The department faculty, research specialists and students carried out the tedious soil sampling in two fields before and after subirrigation in July and August, 2014.
Left to right, ABEN students Megan and Hannah collected soil samples in a corn field.

Monday, February 24, 2014

NDSU Extension Subsurface Drainage Design & Water Management Workshop (Wahpeton, ND)

On February 11th and 12th the annual NDSU Extension Subsurface Drainage Design & Water Management Workshop was held in Wahpeton, ND.  Attending and presenting at this workshop were personnel from NDSU including Dr. Xinhua Jia, Dr. Tom Scherer, Dr. Hans Kandel, and John Nowatzki, along with the collaborating farmer for the SARE project (Gerry Zimmerman).   

This workshop help bring light to the recent increase in subsurface drainage (tile drainage) installation along with stressing the potential gain from designing a subsurface drainage system that can be retrofitted for subirrigation.  By doing this a landowner can not only better manage their crop during wet periods (typical in the Red River Valley), but also better manage their crop during dry periods (i.e. 2012 growing season in the Red River Valley).  One of the key things about subirrigating, however, is the importance of keeping up with crop water demands because once a person falls behind (i.e. soil moisture deficit becomes too large) it is very hard to deliver enough water that will keep up with crop water needs and replenish the soil water content.   As Gerry Zimmerman noted in an article published by the Grand Forks Herald, “We need to start pumping water into it earlier and storing it, and trying to keep that water table up instead of trying to play catch-up with it…”.

The following is the link to an article published by the Grand Forks Herald and written by Mikkel Pates on February 18th, 2014.