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Brining Farms LLC--2008 Barton County Water Conservation winners


You don't have to listen very long to Roger Brining to realize that he thinks outside the conventional "box" and that he is enthusiastic about agriculture and new technology. 2008 brought a new award sponsored by the Kansas Bankers Association and the first winner awarded in Barton County for the water conservation award is Brining Farms, operated by Roger and Erica Brining of rural Great Bend. The farm headquarters is just a mile southwest of Great Bend off Highway 56.

The Brinings converted two flood irrigation systems to sub-surface drip irrigation this past year through cost share with NRCS and the soil conservation district. This was through the Environmental Quality Incentive program. They originally converted one system of 51 acres in the fall of 2207 without cost share.

Roger feels that sub-surface drip irrigation is about 92 percent efficient since there is no evaporation loss. The system consists of a computer operated panel which distributes the water to various risers and lines buried in the field. The "lines" are black drip tape which is like a flexible flattened garden hose with emitters spaced 17- to 22-inches apart that release the water into the soil.

While most drip lines are on 60-inch centers so that on 30 inch row spacings each row gets water on one side, the Brinings placed theirs on 40-inch center to help the distribution. The lines are buried 14- to 16-inches below the soil surface.

They use a pre-set computer program that can be altered if needed to apply the water. They utilize the Kan-Sched water use model computer program developed by K-State Research and Extension to help schedule watering.

The water goes through a filtering system which is critical to the life of the system and preventing sediment from plugging the emitter holes.

Water use efficiency and automation are the primary reasons for putting in this newer type of irrigation. They can get by with about 9 inches of water in a typical season by applying .30-inch per day. It takes about 17 hours to complete a watering cycle to the various parts of the field.

Although drip irrigation is more expensive initially to install on a per acre basis. It pays for itself over time through water savings and pumping costs. It is ideal for smaller fields, where a pivot system won't fit.

A second reason for drip irrigation is the labor savings. Not having to move irrigation pipe is a major incentive, speaking from personal experience. Less labor also means less time and time is money on the farm.

The system was installed by Heartland irrigation of Moundridge.

Roger served in the Air Force soon after high school. He met Erica while stationed in California. Erica grew up in Yuba City, Calif., and has some agriculture background having worked in the Farm Service Agency office there. The Brinings moved back to Great Bend in 1988, soon after their marriage. Roger spent several years working in the computer business before farming with his Dad, Richard in 2000. He had planned to open a financial advisor service.

Roger had grown up driving an old "B" Farmall. One day in about 2000, he was driving the John Deere 4020, while helping is Dad and thought the farm had a future but he wanted to change methods. Since 2006, after his Dad passed away, he has been on his own, with his mother and siblings forming the LLC. Brining Farms is committed to 100 percent no-till. Most of their land is owned and they lease some of it to other operators. Their crops include wheat, corn, sorghum, and soybeans.

Erica is employed at CPI in Great Bend. The Brinings have three children: Rachel Mawhirter, 20, who lives in Great Bend and works for the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce; Rebecca, 13 and Robbie, 7; both who are students at Central Kansas Christian Academy.

The Brinings are very active in the community. Both are highly involved members of First Assembly of God Church in Great Bend. Roger is on the board for the Kansas Agriculture Research Association.

Erica is on the executive boards for the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce, the local United Way, Crime Stoppers and was formerly on the school board for Central Kansas Christian Academy, serving as president for several years.

Roger and Erica feel that we should be good stewards and take care of God's Earth. They are saving water, saving soil and using less energy to do it.

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