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A tool to save water

Farmers say updating the KanSched online tool could help them conserve irrigation water.

Jennifer M. Latzke

October 5, 2022

2 Min Read
Farmer Richard Wenstrom, left, speaks with K-State President Richard Linton in his soybean field south of Kinsley, Kan., Sept
IRRIGATION TOOL: Farmer Richard Wenstrom (far left) speaks with Kansas State University President Richard Linton (far right) in his soybean field south of Kinsley, Kan., Sept. 27. Wenstrom spoke about the challenges farmers like him face in irrigating their fields with diminishing water resources. The visit is part of Linton’s initiative to reach out to every community in Kansas to discuss their specific needs for research and assistance.Jennifer M. Latzke

As part of his new presidential initiative to focus on the people of Kansas and their communities, Kansas State University President Richard Linton has committed to visiting communities throughout the state every academic year, to listen and learn from the Kansans who live there and find out how K-State, the nation’s first land-grant university, can use its work to improve their lives.

These community visits are intended to engage Kansans beyond the Manhattan campus and help the university shape a new strategic plan to be a “next-generation land-grant university.”

On Sept. 27, K-State came to Dodge City and the Ford County region. On a quick trip to neighboring Edwards County, Linton and the K-State team learned from farmers about one specific way K-State can help them conserve their irrigation water.

In the midst of Richard Wenstrom’s soybean field, south of Kinsley, with the sound of the irrigation pump humming in the background, Linton and the team from K-State heard about the struggles of allocating diminishing water resources in western Kansas.

Edwards County farmers are seeking tools to conserve their irrigation water they apply on their fields as a way to meet future reduction of available water resources, due to municipalities and industrial usage.

Wenstrom and fellow farmer Pat Janssen spoke about the KanSched 3.0 program and how it could be updated to help them.

KanSched 3.0 is an online tool that farmers can use on their desktops to schedule their irrigation. It uses evapotranspiration data, weather data collected from the Kansas Mesonet, soil data, data from crop water use and more to better time irrigation application. It can also be used to monitor the soil profile water content of dryland fields.

Farmers want easier access to app

The challenge, they say? It’s not an app that can be easily used on a farmer’s smartphone or tablet.

“It’s a good tool, but no one’s using it,” Wenstrom said.

Janssen said KanSched is useful, but it could be much more so if it was an app that could be accessed easily with real-time data for better water-use predictions. The goal is to conserve every drop of water possible, because it may not be there in the future.

“Water can’t be taken for granted so much anymore,” farmer Lee Willard said. “Anytime we can save a couple inches of water, then it makes the aquifer more sustainable. And that also gives you more mileage for that unit of water and turn it into a crop.”

About the Author(s)

Jennifer M. Latzke

Editor, Kansas Farmer

Through all her travels, Jennifer M. Latzke knows that there is no place like Kansas.

Jennifer grew up on her family’s multigenerational registered Angus seedstock ranch and diversified farm just north of Woodbine, Kan., about 30 minutes south of Junction City on the edge of the Kansas Flint Hills. Rock Springs Ranch State 4-H Center was in her family’s backyard.

While at Kansas State University, Jennifer was a member of the Sigma Kappa Sorority and a national officer for the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. She graduated in May 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and a minor in animal science. In August 2000 Jennifer started her 20-year agricultural writing career in Dodge City, Kan., on the far southwest corner of the state.

She’s traveled across the U.S. writing on wheat, sorghum, corn, cotton, dairy and beef stories as well as breaking news and policy at the local, state and national levels. Latzke has traveled across Mexico and South America with the U.S. Wheat Associates and toured Vietnam as a member of KARL Class X. She’s traveled to Argentina as one of 10 IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism. And she was part of a delegation of AAEA: The Ag Communicators Network members invited to Cuba.

Jennifer’s an award-winning writer, columnist, and podcaster, recognized by the Kansas Professional Communicators, Kansas Press Association, the National Federation of Presswomen, Livestock Publications Council, and AAEA. In 2019, Jennifer reached the pinnacle of achievements, earning the title of “Writer of Merit” from AAEA.

Trips and accolades are lovely, but Jennifer says she is happiest on the road talking to farmers and ranchers and gathering stories and photos to share with readers.

“It’s an honor and a great responsibility to be able to tell someone’s story and bring them recognition for their work on the land,” Jennifer says. “But my role is also evolving to help our more urban neighbors understand the issues our Kansas farmers face in bringing the food and fiber to their store shelves.”

She spends her time gardening, crafting, watching K-State football, and cheering on her nephews and niece in their 4-H projects. She can be found on Twitter at @Latzke.

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