Intelligent and Effective Water Usage
Irrigated agriculture is essential in meeting the country's food production needs. Efficient irrigation systems and water management practices preserve groundwater supplies and help maintain farm profitability. While our water supply in Minnesota naturally replenishes, we understand the importance of preserving this resource. We have made significant investments so we use only what the crops need.
Custom irrigation: We rely on a constant inquiry of weather and soil data to make sure we are irrigating each field according to what it needs. Historical and current weather conditions, along with extensive soil sampling that measures soil moisture levels, help our farm managers predict water needs, then adjust irrigation hourly, daily and monthly.
Efficient equipment: Precision, center-pivot irrigation systems minimize water lost to evaporation or over-watering. This irrigation system uses drop down, low-pressure nozzles to help conserve water and power. Our irrigators are well maintained to run at optimum efficiency and monitored around-the-clock to ensure any breaks or blockages are immediately fixed.
Water regulation: R.D. Offutt Farms holds well permits from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which means we can only use the specific amount of water designated for that permit. We submit reports annually to the DNR, documenting our water usage against our permits.
How We Know It's Working
A 2023 study conducted by Foth Infrastructure & Environment, LLC, analyzed groundwater wells within a 10-mile radius of Park Rapids, Minn., in the Pineland Sands region. The findings concluded that average groundwater levels have remained consistent over the last 30 years. In fact, groundwater well records indicate a marginal average increase in water levels (0.01 foot) within that timeframe.
The study was conducted using data publicly available through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Cooperative Groundwater Monitoring Program. The focus of the study was data from 31 groundwater wells whose water levels have been continuously measured since the mid-1980s and which are still being measured today.
To provide an understanding of groundwater levels, the study examined minimum, maximum, average and standard deviation water levels over the course of 2022 and over the entirety of the recorded well records.
In a white paper summary of the study, Foth reported, “There are no obvious trends on a bigger picture basis indicating either increasing or decreasing water levels, and comparing the current groundwater levels against the old records show stable groundwater levels — even though groundwater usage and withdrawals have increased during this period.”
The study calls attention to data from 2022, a “key year” defined by historic drought conditions the year prior in the Pineland Sands region. Notably, the 2022 data is “broadly similar” to that from the 1970s and 1980s.