Given today’s technology that permits variable-rate seeding plus fertilizer and herbicide application, it would seem that there is only one variable left – water. That’s kind of the way Roric Paulman looks at it, too.
Of the nearly 7,000
acres Paulman farms south of the Platte River near Sutherland, nearly 6,000 acres are devoted to white and yellow field corn, popcorn, sugar beets, and dry beans. Consequently, Paulman was among the first producers in the nation to test variable-rate center pivot irrigation via eight of the 40 pivots that cover Paulman Farms.
As most every farmer knows, crop yields are often directly proportional to the most limiting growth factor. Even when water isn’t a limiting factor, its use is far from uniform due to variables in soil type, topography, water-holding capacity, water infiltration, and drainage rates. Paulman says that is particularly true in much of Nebraska, where the rolling terrain literally ruled out irrigation until center pivot systems came along.