BeneTerra News

BeneTerra News

We seek scientifically sound solutions for our clients. BeneTerra has aligned itself with top research organizations as part of our commitment to continuous improvement. Our staff is encouraged to take leadership roles in their respective fields of endeavour to produce meaningful research.


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

Land Resources Leader presents paper on soil delving to SSA national conference

Land Resources Leader, Glenn Bailey and his South Australia colleague, Brian Hughes, presented a paper to the Soil Science Australia conference regarding their work with soil delving. The process of “delving” clay to the surface began in the south east of the state in order to address the limitation of water repellency. Clay delving was seen to mimic the water repellency ameliorating effects of clay spreading, only without the expense of importing the clay. Subsequently it has become clear that the delving process also addresses a number of other limitations associated with sandy soils. This paper discusses some of the improvements observed in the A2 horizons of 12 sand over clay soils.    For the full paper in PDF click here.




Land Resources Leader – Glenn Bailey joins BeneTerra team

As of the 2nd of April 2012, Glenn Bailey has joined the BeneTerra team in the capacity of Land Resources Leader. He brings a strong background in soil science, forestry and land resources research to the team.  He will be focused on those aspects of our business that require land resource assessment, decision making and management. He will support other team members and will interact with external land resource decision makers – regulators, resource companies, earth scientists, and such.




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.


Santos visits BeneTerra in US

Two members of the Santos irrigation team, David MacFarlane and Andrew Snars, toured BeneTerra irrigation projects and research facilities in Wyoming on 20 and 21 June, 2011.  They were accompanied by consulting soil scientists from MWH, Stuart Macnish and Justin Adams.  While there the Santos/MWH group engaged with Tim Kalus of Anadarko, the groundwater team from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, Carl Bern with the US Geological Survey and the BeneTerra staff.



MD addresses ASSSI

On 11 May 2011, BeneTerra’s Managing Director spoke to the Queensland branch of the Australian Soil Science Society about the company’s experiences with coal seam gas water in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming.  He described why and how the company adapted subsurface drip irrigation for dispersal of CSG water in a frigid climate.  Results from studies undertaken by the US Geological Survey were shared with the group.  An hour-long question and answer session followed the talk resulting in a dialogue on the impacts of CSG.



Interview with Queensland Country Life on community benefits of CSG

The weekly regional newspaper, Queensland Country Life, interviewed John Zupancic of BeneTerra about his experiences with coal seam gas development in the Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. Zupancic pointed out that there have been many benefits to development that are rarely mentioned such as professional job opportunities for young people in or near their home town.