Project studying impact of injecting air into drip irrigation funded by Nebraska Environmental Trust

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Project studying impact of injecting air into drip irrigation funded by Nebraska Environmental Trust


A University of Nebraska–Lincoln project studying the impact of injected air into a subsurface drip irrigation system has received a $104,847 grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.

The project is led by Xin Qiao, assistant professor of biological systems engineering.

Feedlot runoff occurs from open feedlot operations during heavy rainfall or snow melts. Runoff from feedlots contains pollutants that can degrade surface and groundwater quality. In this proposal, Nebraska researchers will collect and use runoff from feedlot as the irrigation water source of a subsurface drip irrigation system for crop production in western Nebraska. In addition, researchers will inject air into the system to evaluate improvements in quality of the recycled runoff, uptake of antibiotics into food crops and crop yields.

Field investigations will be conducted at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff. Corn and sugar beet will be grown with and without injected air using feedlot runoff. Crop growth, water qualities of feedlot runoff and air injection-treated water, as well as potential uptake of antibiotics to tuber of sugar beet tuber and corn grain, will be monitored during the study. The outcome of this study may provide a best-management practice to treat feedlot runoff and increase crop yield for corn and sugar beets grown in western Nebraska.

The project is one of 118 receiving a total of $20 million in grant awards from NET this year. Of these, 73 were new applications and 45 are carry-over projects.

The Nebraska Legislature created NET in 1992. Using revenue from the Nebraska Lottery, the trust has provided more than $328 million in grants to more than 2,300 projects across the state. Anyone – citizens, organizations, communities, farmers and businesses – can apply for funding to protect habitat, improve water quality and establish recycling programs in Nebraska. NET works to preserve, protect and restore the state’s natural resources for future generations.

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