Chemigation is the practice of applying fertilizer, additives or agricultural chemicals to crops through an irrigation system. If the correct precautions are not taken, chemicals can flow back through the irrigation system and into the well, polluting the ground water or other water source.

In the mid-1980’s the Nebraska Legislature passed the Chemigation Act to protect our ground and surface water from possible contamination. The operator of a chemigation system is required to obtain a permit before chemigating. Permit holders are primarily liable for any damage resulting from chemigation and for maintenance expenses on their chemigation equipment.

Certification Requirements

Before a chemigation permit can be granted the operator is required to attend a certification class and pass a written exam. This certification is good for four years and entitles the operator to apply for a chemigation permit. Applicator/certification classes are sponsored by the University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension and are held in various locations during the winter and spring each year.


Under provisions of the Nebraska Chemigation Act, Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) are responsible for inspecting each irrigation system through which any agricultural chemical will be applied to ensure that mandatory safety devices are installed and functioning. All operating permits are subject to periodic random inspections to ensure continued compliance. Any new system must be inspected before chemigation can begin.

Chemigation Permit Fees

Download: UNWNRD Chemigation Permit

New Permits: $75 per injection site

Renewal Permits: $25 per injection site

Emergency Permits: $300 per injection site

All permits are good for one year, expiring on June 1. New permits approved at any time during the calendar year expire on June 1 of the following year.

As a courtesy to operators, renewal applications are mailed out from the UNWNRD office. However, it is the responsibility of each operator to contact the UNWNRD if he/she does not receive the necessary permits, to complete the required information and to return renewal permits by the deadline. Any permit not renewed by June 1 is subject to cancellation – the operator must then pay the new permit fee and have the system inspected to be eligible to chemigate again.


Violators of the Chemigation Program will be submitted to county attorneys. Penalties consist of Class I, II, III or IV misdemeanors or a civil fine.

How to Read Your Irrigation Flow Meter

Example 1:

Converting Gallons to Acre-Inches Applied

If you have a meter with a gallon totalizer remember to note the multiplier beneath the totalizer. For example, a standard 8″ meter dial face displays 890572 and the meter face reads Gallons x 100, so we add two zeros to the 6-digit dial face reading. 890572 x 100 = 89057,200 gallons

Present Meter Reading: 89,057,200 gallons

Subtract Previous Reading: 79,488,700 gallons

Total Gallons Used: 9,568,500 gallons

To convert gallons to acre-inches: Divide gallons used (9,568,500) by 27,154

9,568,500 divided by 27,154 equals 352.38 acre-inches

(9,568,500 / 27,154 = 352.38 acre-inches)

To figure acre-inches used, divide acre-inches by acres in field (example: 125 acres) 352.38 acres divided by 125 acres = 2.82 acre inches applied. (325.38 / 125 = 2.82 acre-inches)

Example 2:

Converting Acre-Feet to Acre-Inches Applied

If you have a meter with an acre-feet totalizer remember to note the multiplier beneath the totalizer. For example a standard 8″ meter dial face displays 974602 and the meter face reads Acre Feet x 0.001, so we place the decimal point three places to the left. 974602 x 0.001 = 974.602 acre-feet

Present Meter Reading: 974.602 acre-feet

Subtract Previous Reading: 968.176 acre-feet

Total Acre-Feet Used: 6.426 acre-feet

To convert acre-feet to acre-inches: Multiply acre-feet used (6.426) by 12

6.426 multiplied by 12 equals 77.112 acre-inches.

(6,426 x 12 = 77.112 acre-inches)

To figure acre-inches used, divide acre-inches by acres in field (example: 64 acres) 77.112 acre inches divided by 64 acres = 1.20 acre-inches applied. (77.112 / 64 = 1.20 acre-inches)

Calculating Water Useage

Use this link to help calculate water usage.

Links & Forms


Rules & Regulations

(308) 432-6190

(308) 432-6187

Mailing Address:
430 East Second Street
Chadron, Nebraska 69337

For specific contact information related to UNWNRD Board and Staff, please see the 'About Us' page.

To learn more about Nebraska's NRDs, please see the 'Links' page.