Quality and Quantity
Kansas water quality and water quantity are both important to Kansas corn producers. Both the Kansas Corn Commission and the Kansas Corn Growers Association promote wise use of our state’s water resources.
The Kansas Corn Commission has funded many research and grower education projects over the years focusing on water quality and water quantity including best management practices for water quality and research on irrigation practices and technology. Click the button for more information.
The Kansas Corn Grower Association represents its members in regulatory and policy areas regarding water quality and water quantity. See below for updates on Kansas water quantity and water quality issues being followed by the Kansas Corn Growers Association.
Kansas Governor’s Water Vision
Growers and other stakeholders have participated in well over 100 meetings focusing on Governor Sam Brownback’s Water Vision process. In early July, a listening tour made several stops in cities across Kansas shortly after the first draft of the Governor’s water vision was released.
According to the Kansas Water Office website: “The Vision will take the Kansas Water Plan to a whole new level with more intense work with government, cities and counties, the groundwater management districts, water assurance districts, industry and stakeholders to develop this vision and area specific goals for ensuring a reliable water supply for Kansas citizens.”
Click the button below to see more information on the Kansas Water Vision process.
KS Governor’s Water Vision webpage
Kansas corn producers have a vested interest in the conversation about water quantity and quality in our state. Water quality is a key issue for our growers. Protecting our water quality through improved farming practices, using best management practices for pesticides and fertilizers, and employing conservation measures like reduce and no-till farming and using riparian buffers. By controlling sedimentation and pesticide runoff, we are also controlling our future access to crop protection tools and ultimately the use of our land to produce needed crops.
Farmers are always looking to the future, especially when we talk about water quantity. Irrigation has been key to growers in specific areas of the state, especially over the Ogallala aquifer. This resource plays a key role in the economic well-being of western Kansas. High-production corn farming, cattle feeding, pig farms, dairies, beef processing, grain handlers, ethanol plants, equipment dealers, ag retailers, and transport companies to move corn, cattle, pigs, meat, milk, ethanol, distillers grains and a host of other products, have all contributed to build a thriving agribusiness complex in Kansas.
In Kansas, corn acres have doubled in the past 20 years, but irrigated acres have remained virtually unchanged. The doubling of our corn acres has come from the growth of non-irrigated corn. In 2015, 64% of the state’s corn acres were non-irrigated. 36 percent of our corn acres were irrigated, producing over half of the state’s corn crop. In the past 10 years, corn has accounted for only 21 percent of the state’s harvested major crop acres, but has produced 44 percent of the state’s total grain production.
Most of our irrigators are already taking measures to conserve water as a practical business decision driven by economics. Corn farmers have made great strides in water conservation through improved farming practices, improved irrigation mechanics and technology, and continuing advances in the corn seed itself through breeding and biotechnology. As we continue down this path, we must remember that technological advances in corn and corn farming will continue occur and improve the use of water for this needed crop.
Kansas corn farmers through their corn checkoff have a long history of funding projects to improve water use efficiency, primarily through K-State Extension research projects on water use, irrigation timing and efficiency, and more water efficient equipment like more efficient nozzles to reduce water use. In the past five fiscal years, the Kansas Corn Commission has funded $456,000 predominantly in K-State research related to water usage, drought tolerance and water quality.
EPA’s Waters of the U.S. Proposed Rule
Deadline for Comments Extended to October 20
KCGA and the National Corn Growers Association are closely following EPA’s actions on the Waters of the United States proposed rule. KCGA is concerned the proposed rule will give EPA jurisdiction over a large amount of land, ditches and mostly dry streambeds in Kansas. The Kansas Agriculture Alliance, a group of Kansas agricultural organizations has asked Governor Brownback, Attorney General Derek Schmidt and the state’s U.S. Congressional Delegation to aggressively engage in this issue. The deadline for comments to EPA has been extended to October 20. Through broad definitions of the terms “tributary” and “adjacent waters” contained in the proposal, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Corps of Engineers are effectively claiming all waters as federal. In some cases, the agencies would have regulatory control over dry land through the inclusion of floodplains and riparian areas.
Under the proposed rule, permits would be required for routine farming activities in fields that include or are adjacent to areas EPA would consider to be “Waters of the U.S.” The rule also infringes on state jurisdiction by subjecting EPA authority over waters traditionally regulated by the state.
KCGA and NCGA submitted comments on the proposed rule and are encouraging individual growers to submit comments as well.
“In addition to our concern that EPA’s proposed rule would cause the regulation of dry streambeds and ditches, we also believe the proposed rule would infringe the state’s authority to regulate water quality in Kansas. The State of Kansas is a national leader in the regulation of water quality and we don’t think EPA should supercede the state’s authority,” according to Greg Krissek, Kansas Corn Growers Association CEO.