Nathan Koppert was born in Woodstock, Ontario and moved with his family to Lethbridge, Alberta when he was 14. He studied at the University of Lethbridge, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Studies. Upon graduating, Nathan worked in the sales department of an Agriculture retail company, focusing on crop inputs. For the past 6 years, Nathan has been with DuPont Pioneer Hi-Bred Production Company in the Lethbridge location as a Production Research Agronomist. Nathan is married with 5 children.
In Nathan’s drive for innovation and pursuit of optimized crop production, he was curious about drip irrigation and whether it could bring new efficiencies and yield increases to his crops. He began talking with Southern Irrigation to find out if SDI and PMDI really work.
After some research, Nathan went ahead with a PMDI system on a 4-span lateral irrigation system, and 2 acres of SDI in 2016. Many crops are grown and researched on these land parcels, including corn, canola, beans, barley, and more.
So how did Nathan’s first year go with drip irrigation? While the first year brought about many challenging weather variables, Nathan still looks back on a very successful year! In his pursuit of answering the question of whether drip really works in this area, Nathan found out that:
- SDI and PMDI can adequately meet any water application demand of the various crops grown
- Significant water savings in the 30% range.
- Crops could be irrigated at any stage of growth
- Possible issue getting full germination and emergence solely from the drip (having overhead irrigation
option alongside drip may be a good idea)
- PMDI drop tubes travelled through the crops with ease, including corn and canola, and not damaging any
other crop at any stage of growth.
Perhaps more revealing than any of these things above was the wide smile on Nathan’s face while watching the SDI or PMDI system running efficiently during the very windy Lethbridge conditions. 2017 has brought an opportunity to run some field comparisons; two farmers Nathan works alongside for seed canola production have agreed to retrofit half of a pivot each to PMDI. The goal is to learn if the PMDI system enhances bee activity and pollination, possibly contributing to higher yields. A secondary observation will be whether a disease reduction is detected (particularly sclerotinia).
Nathan is excited that he has answered his question of whether drip irrigation works – indeed, it works very well, and he sees it as a very efficient irrigation method.