T&O Farms LLC is owned by Mr. Tom Willis and located in Finney County, Kansas, approximately 12 miles south of Garden City on US Highway 83.
“I farm here and also have an ethanol business. I want to prove the concept that we can conserve water and still achieve profitable yield using the technologies we are pioneering on my farm. Secondly, I want to pass this farm onto my son when he returns from serving our country," said Willis.
Since the return of his son, with the help of his nephew, Willis has been able to maintain and expand this water technology farm since it's inception in 2016. They want to continue studying new technologies and farming practices for years to come.
For the 2019 growing season there are a total of 10 pivots being utilized in the program. He will be studying corn, soybeans, and crab grass (primarily for grazing) amongst different pivots; as well as studying the same crop side-by-side with slightly different farming practices to determine the most efficient methods.
An abandoned irrigation well on the farm is now equipped with an observation station and is regularly monitored by the Kansas Geological Survey. This observation well measures changes in the static groundwater level on a real time basis to compare to nearby irrigation wells. The farm also hosts a weather station through the KSU- KS Mesonet program that will measure temperature, precipitation, humidity and wind velocity.
Crop and water consultation is provided by Mr. Loren Seaman, with Seaman Crop Consulting, LLC. Dr. Jonathan Aguilar from the K-State Research and Extension office in Garden City will assist with the crop evaluation.
T&O Farms, LLC is enrolled in a Water Conservation Area (WCA). A Water Conservation Area (WCA) is a designated area with an approved management plan developed by a water right owner or group of water right owners with the consent of the chief engineer to reduce water withdrawals while maintaining economic value via water right flexibility. WCAs were signed into law in April 2015 by Governor Sam Brownback to provide a tool to water right owners to extend the usable lifetime of the Ogallala-High Plains Aquifer. The T&O Finney County WCA was designated and established in Finney County on July 25, 2016. More information about WCA's and the T&O Farms WCA plan can be found here.