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Southwest Research-Extension Center

T&O Water Technology Farm

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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.  The fields are in Sections 19, 20, 21, 22 and 27 of Township 26 South and Range 33 West. A map could be accessed here.

"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."


The general goal is to identify the irrigation technologies that will help them conserve and extend the life of the Ogallala aquifer


The farm is equipped with 10 center pivot sprinkler systems, four equipped with mobile drip irrigation (MDI or Dragon-Line™), five with low pressure spray nozzles, and one combination of MDI and spray. 

Almost all equipment have telemetric capability allowing the Mr. Willis and his crew manage and monitor the fields remotely.

There are four circles in a section which are planted to sorghum and alfalfa. These fields are set-up as paired field comparisons of MDI and spray nozzles. Each paired evaluation will be irrigating the same crop.  In 2016 the crops were alfalfa and grain sorghum, while in 2017 the crops were alfalfa and soybeans.  Each circle has commercial soil water sensor and KSRE installed 5-ft access tubes for weekly manual soil water monitoring using CPN Neutron Probe. This particular section has its aerial image taken at least eight times during the season in the thermal and the NDVI bands for a general health assessment.

One field of corn is planted in a circle and is irrigated with spray nozzle. Soluble polyacrylamide (PAM) is applied throughout the irrigation systems on the east half of the circle and the other half is just water without PAM. Both sections of the circle have separate soil water sensor and neutron access tubes.

Adjacent and similar to the corn field is a soybean field also planted in a circle irrigated with MDI. Soluble PAM is applied by means of the irrigation systems on the east half of the circle and only irrigation water on the west. Both sections of the circle also have separate soil water sensor and neutron access tubes.

One of the sorghum fields has several seeding rate population plots of 40,000, 60,000, 80,000, and 100,000 seeds per acre. 

Each field have at least one soil water sensor to help in irrigation scheduling.  A mobile weather station is available to help in monitoring the weather parameters (temperature, precipitation, humidity, solar radiation and wind velocity) necessary in making daily farm decisions. 

To help monitor the water table and well dynamics, an index well is installed on-site measuring the depth of the water table every hour.

In 2016 two fields received an application of Retention, a polyacrylamide-based liquid product by the Helena Chemical Company, to improve soil infiltration and water retention.

Technical oversight is provided by Seaman Consulting and K-State Research-Extension. 

Field Days and Related Activities

Save the date: August 2018.  Details will be announced later.

Online Resources

K-State Mesonet Weather Station

KGS Index Well

2016 Infographic (pdf)

Related KWO info

Aerial Imagery