BeneTerra News

BeneTerra News


Bailey presents paper in Minneapolis, USA

BeneTerra Land Resources Leader, Glenn Bailey, presented a paper on November 17th, 2015 in Minneapolis at the Soil Science Society of America meetings. It was entitled “Pedological Implications for Rehabilitating Coalbed Methane Ponds – using soil material identification to deconstruct water storage ponds and rehabilitate pasture land.” The paper, co-authored by John Zupancic, discussed techniques developed by BeneTerra in Australia to rehabilitate pond sites where the original soil materials had been scattered and blended during construction making it difficult to re-establish productive pasture land. To view or download the presentation click here.

Soil scientist characterising soil profile

Soil scientist, Glenn Bailey, characterising soil profile


Computer simulation of subsurface drip irrigation using coalbed methane produced waters

Development of coalbed methane (CBM) as an energy resource typically requires extraction of large volumes of water from underground coal seams. In the semiarid Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana, some of the CBM water is put to beneficial use through use for irrigation. Careful management is necessary due to elevated conductivites (2-3 mS/cm), high sodium adsorption ratios (SAR = 20-50) and sodium-bicarbonate composition of the water. One management strategy is deep subsurface drip irrigation (SDI), where drip tapes are placed ~92 cm below the surface in conjunction with a deep-rooted crop like alfalfa. CBM water is acidified to reduce alkalinity prior to application and is applied to fields year-round.


Two new studies published on BeneTerra subsurface drip irrigation with coal seam gas water

Carleton Bern of the US Geological Survey was the lead author on a two-part paper covering 1) water and solute movement and 2) geochemistry beneath BeneTerra’s longest operating deep subsurface drip irrigation system. The articles appear in the February 2013 issue of Agricultural Water Management. These can be accessed at Science Direct or by email request to BeneTerra.

Produced wastewater evaporation services - Beneterra

installing deep drip irrigation tubing to 90 cm (36-in)


Deep subsurface drip irrigation using coal-bed sodic water: Part II. Geochemistry

Agricultural Water Management      AWN

Volume 118, February 2013, Pages 135–149

  • a Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO, USA
  • b National Research Program, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO, USA
  • c BeneTerra LLC,  Sheridan, WY, USA


Waters with low salinity and high sodium adsorption ratios (SARs) present a challenge to irrigation because they degrade soil structure and infiltration capacity. In the Powder River Basin of Wyoming, such low salinity (electrical conductivity, EC 2.1 mS cm−1) and high-SAR (54) waters are co-produced with coal-bed methane and some are used for subsurface drip irrigation (SDI). The SDI system studied mixes sulfuric acid with irrigation water and applies water year-round via drip tubing buried 92 cm deep. After six years of irrigation, SAR values between 0 and 30 cm depth (0.5–1.2) are only slightly increased over non-irrigated soils (0.1–0.5). Only 8–15% of added Na has accumulated above the drip tubing. Sodicity has increased in soil surrounding the drip tubing, and geochemical simulations show that two pathways can generate sodic conditions. In soil between 45-cm depth and the drip tubing, Na from the irrigation water accumulates as evapotranspiration concentrates solutes. SAR values >12, measured by 1:1 water–soil extracts, are caused by concentration of solutes by factors up to 13. Low-EC (<0.7 mS cm−1) is caused by rain and snowmelt flushing the soil and displacing ions in soil solution. Soil below the drip tubing experiences lower solute concentration factors (1–1.65) due to excess irrigation water and also contains relatively abundant native gypsum (2.4 ± 1.7 wt.%). Geochemical simulations show gypsum dissolution decreases soil-water SAR to <7 and increases the EC to around 4.1 mS cm−1, thus limiting negative impacts from sodicity. With sustained irrigation, however, downward flow of excess irrigation water depletes gypsum, increasing soil-water SAR to >14 and decreasing EC in soil water to 3.2 mS cm−1. Increased sodicity in the subsurface, rather than the surface, indicates that deep SDI can be a viable means of irrigating with sodic waters.

Keywords:Gypsum;PHREEQCPowder River Basin, WyomingSodium adsorption ratio; Sulfuric acid


Published by Elsevier B.V.

Science Direct



Deep subsurface drip irrigation using coal-bed sodic water: Part I. Water and solute movement

agricultural water managementAgricultural Water Management

Volume 118, February 2013, Pages 122–134

  • Carleton R. Berna
  • George N. Breita
  • Richard W. Healyb
  • John W. Zupancicc
  • Richard Hammackd
  1. Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO, USA
  2. National Research Program, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO,  USA
  3. BeneTerra, LLC., Sheridan, WY 82801, USA
  4. National Energy Technology Laboratory, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Summary of Inorganic Compositional Data for Groundwater, Soil-Water

Published by United States Geological Survey  2011. 

Nicholas J. Geboy, Mark A. Engle, Karl T. Schroeder, and John W. Zupancic


As part of a 5-year project on the impact of subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) application of coalbed-methane (CBM) produced waters, water samples were collected from the Headgate Draw SDI site in the Powder River Basin, Wyoming, USA. This research is part of a larger study to understand short- and long-term impacts on both soil and water quality from the beneficial use of CBM waters to grow forage crops through use of SDI. This document provides a summary of the context, sampling methodology, and quality assurance and quality control documentation of samples collected prior to and over the first year of SDI operation at the site (May 2008–October 2009). This report contains an associated data-base containing inorganic compositional data, water-quality criteria parameters, and calculated geochemical parameters for samples of groundwater, soil water, surface water, treated CBM waters, and as-received CBM waters collected at the Headgate Draw SDI site.




Tracking solutes and water from subsurface drip irrigation application of coalbed methane–produced waters, Powder River Basin, Wyoming

Environmental Geosciences  

September 2011

Mark A. Engle, Carleton R. Bern, Richard W. Healy, James I. Sams, John W. Zupancic, and Karl T. Schroedercover_EG_journal


One method to beneficially use water produced from coalbed methane (CBM) extraction is subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) of croplands. In SDI systems,treated CBM water (injectate) is supplied to the soil at depth, with the purpose of preventing the buildup of detrimental salts near the surface.The technology is expanding within the Powder River Basin, but little research has been published on its environmental impacts. This article reports on initial results from tracking water and solutes from the injected CBM produced waters at an SDI system in Johnson County, Wyoming.