T&O Farms LLC is owned by Mr. Tom Willis and located in Finney County, Kansas, approximately 12 miles south of Garden City on US Highway 83.
"My motivation is two-fold with this project,” said Willis. “I farm here and also have an ethanol business. I want to prove the concept that we can conserve water and still achieve profitable yield using the technologies we are pioneering on my farm. Secondly, I want to pass this farm onto my son when he returns from serving our country."
Eight sprinklers are being utilized as four paired evaluations comparing mobile drip irrigation or DragonLine, to conventional low pressure sprinklers. Each paired evaluation will be irrigating the same crop. Each field has two soil moisture probes installed and is equipped with telemetry delivering soil moisture data to independent dashboards linked to the T & O Farms Water Technology Farm. The remaining two fields received an application of Retention, a polyacrylamide-based liquid product developed by the Helena Chemical Company to achieve greater agronomic results with less water.
Each well and sprinkler has been equipped with a new flow meter. An index well is provided at the farm to measure changes in the static groundwater level on a real time basis. The farm hosts a weather station that will measure temperature, precipitation, humidity and wind velocity.
The 2016 crops consist of corn, sorghum, alfalfa and soybeans. The evaluation will continue for three growing seasons.
Crop and water consultation is provided to Mr. Willis by a technical team led by Mr. Loren Seaman, independent crop consultant. Other team members include Dr. Jonathan Aguilar and Dr. Isaya Kisekka from KSU’s Ag Experiment Station in Garden City.
T&O Farms, LLC is also enrolled in a Water Conservation Area (WCA). A Water Conservation Area (WCA) is a designated area with an approved management plan developed by a water right owner or group of water right owners with the consent of the chief engineer to reduce water withdrawals while maintaining economic value via water right flexibility. WCAs were signed into law in April 2015 by Governor Sam Brownback to provide a tool to water right owners to extend the usable lifetime of the Ogallala-High Plains Aquifer.
A copy of the T&O Farms, LLC WCA Plan is provided in the following link: Management Plan for the Designation of a WCA. The T&O Finney County WCA was designated and established in Finney County on July 25, 2016.