Irrigator cuts usage with technology addition

Technology is helping a 27-year-old, fourth-generation High Plains producer be more efficient with water.

Kyle Amerin rents 500 acres of the family’s 6,000-acre operation near Plains, Kansas. He works with his dad, Gerald, and brother, Ben, to grow corn, wheat, sorghum, cotton and soybeans in Meade and Seward counties.

During the past growing season, the Amerins added FieldNET and FieldNET Advisor to two of the Lindsay Zimmatic seven-tower center pivots. FieldNET and FieldNET Advisor are also products of the Omaha, Nebraska-based Zimmatic.

Kyle Amerin said the new technology allows him to use variable rate irrigation practice that can precisely apply water at the time when the corn crop needs it. Before using this technology Amerin would turn on the pivots and leaving them on for most of the growing season. He and many producers know the challenges of the declining water table in the Ogallala Aquifer.

This year in one of his cornfield yields his production went from 230 bushels per acre to 270 bushels per acre.

“I was able to reduce water usage and increase the yields,” he said.

The technology allows the producer to plug in the intended crop and pertinent statistics and the system figures in the requirement and calculates the right allocations needed. The system also factors calendar dates, volatility, evaporation and transpiration and calculates how much water is necessary to apply each day.

The first half of the growing season was impacted by a lingering drought, he said, and then Mother Nature opened her spigots in the second half of the growing season. That’s when the investment for the technology paid off. During one three-day stretch he could completely shut down the irrigation systems because of ample rain.

Technology helped Amerin to only use 60 percent of his allotment, which meant in this past growing season there was a 40 percent savings in usage as well as reduced pumping costs from the natural gas powered engines.

“That adds up pretty quick,” he said in reviewing usage and expenses.

From from his fingertips, Amerin could control the irrigation system without unnecessary trips to the field.

He noted that the FieldNET Advisor provides a way to control variables once thought to be very difficult to solve.

“One of our pivots has a house in its path, so it needs to be reversed. I was putting double amounts of water on the reversing side and half of what was needed on the other side,” Amerin said. “With FieldNET and VRI, I could adjust the pivot speed to even out the application. It definitely helped me spread out water more efficiently.”

The investment was about $5,000 for each system and he was able to get his money back in just one year. Because of this past year’s success, Kyle said the family has decided to add more of the FieldNET and FieldNET Advisors to more pivots.

More information about the technology is available at

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].