LANGHAM, Sask. — Large-scale drainage of prairie sloughs and potholes can cause serious flooding issues downstream.
Hydrologists concerned with soil moisture depletion say most remaining wetlands cannot be economically drained, nor should they be.
However, a dozen or more shallow little nuisance ponds scattered across a half-section field affect not only seeding operations but also spraying because of vacant areas or retarded crop. As well, they’ll hang around long enough in a really wet year to make harvest miserable.
Growers who have succeeded in pumping water from spring ponds up to nearby hilltops say they can usually seed through the low spots instead of going around.
Getting a crop established in those low spots uses up much of the excess moisture and can create a uniform crop. If the knolls are dry, the extra moisture may help kick-start the crop up there.
If luck is on your side come June, the whole field can be sprayed as a single uniform crop right on schedule. Not only that, but when harvest arrives, the combines can roll right on through without getting stuck.
And those are the final two economic arguments for pond pumping: you get to run crop through your combine on those low acres where you otherwise would not have harvested any crop, and you may get a better yield on the knolls if you’re able to get water up to them.
Five factors support pond pumping:
- seed more acres without dodging ponds or getting stuck
- spray crops in uniform stage of development on time
- combine whole fields without dodging low spots or getting stuck
- extra acres of crop into the bin from low spots
- potential extra yield because of water on knolls
Irrigation equipment can be jury-rigged to pump from pothole to knoll, but it’s a time-consuming way of attacking the problem. Over the years, the portable water cannon has proven to be the most practical method, mainly because it can easily be moved from one pothole to the next.
Prairie farmers use big equipment, and nowhere is that more evident than in the realm of water cannons.
Double A Trailers of Two Hills, Alta., brought its new Dual Nozzle Water Cannon to the Ag in Motion farm show held last month near Saskatoon. With a capacity of 2,000 gallons per minute, the new Cannon doubles the volume of the company’s previous single nozzle design that it introduced 12 years ago, said Nathan Rudko of Double A Trailers.
“Two thousand gallons is your volume spraying through the dual nozzles, but if you run through a hose to pump into another dugout or permanent pond, then you’re up to 4,500 g.p.m.,” said Rudko.
Power take-off of 150 horsepower is required in either mode, he added.
“The smaller pump, which feeds the single unit cannon, requires a p.t.o. of 100 h.p.
“The cannon chassis itself is 80 feet long; then you get another 20 feet when you swing the boom out in front of your tractor,” he said.
“The discharge boom is hydraulically controlled. It shoots up to about 400 feet, depending on wind conditions. It covers a 270 degree arc. That’s about four acres for each setup.
“On a day when you have a strong wind blowing with the water, the drops don’t even touch the ground. They atomize into such a fine mist, it either evaporates or lightly covers the ground. Without the wind, it does deposit water on the knolls.”
The single nozzle cannon has an eight inch suction inlet, and the dual nozzle unit has a 10 inch suction inlet.
Transport length is 83 feet and transport width is 8.5 feet.
The dual nozzle unit weighs 6,400 pounds and sells for $50,000 with high flotation tires.
Double A Trailer says pumping pond water to a higher elevation may move some of the salts in areas where discharge potholes are causing salinity.
“Soil salinity is decreased and saline soils are rejuvenated. Grasshopper and mole infestations around potholes and sloughs can be reduced.”