Groundwater

Chemigation

Chemigation is the injection of agricultural chemicals into water flowing through an irrigation distribution system for application to land, crops, or both. This year, hundreds of irrigators across the Lower Loup Natural Resources District will use chemigation to apply fertilizers and pesticides to their fields. In 2006, there were 1,913 chemigation permits issued across the Lower Loup NRD. Chemigators applied over 6,519,000 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer in the District.

With chemigation, the rate of application can be regulated and chemicals may be applied at the exact time needed by plants to produce maximum results. The actual handling of chemicals is reduced so operator exposure is minimized and the chance for spills is diminished.

Chemigation offers the irrigator numerous other advantages. One of those advantages can be found in the application of nitrogen fertilizers. When chemigation is used, nitrate-leaching losses are reduced and the possibility for nitrate contamination of ground water is reduced.

However, chemigation has its risks. The greatest of these is the potential for accidental groundwater contamination through backflow into the irrigation well. Backflow is the siphoning of water and chemicals back into the irrigation well when normal operation is interrupted. To avoid this contamination, the appropriate chemigation equipment and system must be set-up, operated and maintained. Without the right equipment and setup, a permit will be denied.

Before an irrigator can begin chemigation, state law says a permit must be obtained from the local Natural Resources District. Permit applications are available at the Lower Loup NRD District Headquarters in Ord or at the Natural Resources Conservation Service offices and University of Nebraska Extension offices in Albion, Broken Bow, Burwell, Columbus, Fullerton, Greeley, Loup City, Ord, and St. Paul.

University of Nebraska-Extension schedules chemigation training courses across the NRD. If you plan to apply chemicals, you must attend one of the courses and pass a written exam to be certified. Certification is good for four years, and then the irrigator is required to take a renewal course.

To apply for a permit, complete the chemigation permit application form, print and sign it. Deliver the completed application to any NRD Field Office, or mail it to:

Lower Loup Natural Resources District
2620 Airport Drive
Ord, NE 68862

Chemigation permit application renewals must be received by June 1st or the renewal application will be considered new and require a higher fee.

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