The URNRD will install three data weather stations throughout the district like this one located on a farm northwest of Imperial. Each of the 15 groundwater monitoring wells in the district, such as the one shown here, will be equipped with rain buckets to provide real-time rain data. (Johnson Publications photo)

NRD putting in real-time rain data equipment

    Irrigators in the three counties of the Upper Republican Natural Resources
District (URNRD) will have access to real-time rainfall data throughout the district as early as next week.
    The rainfall data can be used to help farmers manage the amount of water they apply as well as the timing of that irrigation.
    The URNRD oversees the maintenance and operation of 15 groundwater monitoring wells spread throughout the district.
    As part of the monitoring, the NRD has installed real-time data collection of groundwater levels in 10 of those wells. The five other wells will also be equipped in the near future.
    To complement that data, the NRD has installed solar-powered rain buckets at nine of the 15 wells sites. Eventually all of the well sites will be equipped with the rain buckets.
    In addition, three full-blown, solar-powered real-time weather collection stations will be installed in the district. The exact location of these three units has not been determined.
    The data from these stations will be key in calculating evaporative transpiration (ET) to determine how much water corn plants are consuming on a daily basis.
     Assistant NRD Manager Nate Jenkins said they are working with the University of Nebraska on the possible installation of a high-tech ET measuring device somewhere in the district.
    Standard ET calculations are made by calculating a coefficient of rain, solar and wind conditions. He said UNL’s device will measure actual ET.
    Jenkins said the district received a WaterSMART water and energy efficiency grant through the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to pay for the well monitoring devices and weather stations.
    In Chase County, the rainfall collection sites include one  a mile northwest of Imperial, one 12 miles west of Champion and one 2.5 miles northeast of Lamar.

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