Now that your crops have been planted, the next step is to keep them hydrated. Here are some irrigation tips to help make that yield grow.
1. Management consultant, Peter Drucker famously said “what gets measured gets managed.” This is why it’s important to monitor and measure the amount of water that gets to the roots with a water flow meter. Water flow meters can help farmers determine irrigation efficiency and improve water management.
2. Know your soil. Do you have heavy clay soil or light sandy soil? Heavy clay soil holds more water than light sandy soil. Good soil management is key to conserving water.
3. Find your maximum irrigation set time and only apply as much water as your soil can hold. You can use either soil-plant or atmospheric based measurements to determine when to irrigate. Software programs can collect weather data including local temperature, rainfall, humidity, and crop evapotranspiration to provide recommendations for optimal irrigation scheduling.
4. Consider drip irrigation systems. They deliver water directly to the roots providing a perfect balance of water and air to the soil that can increase growth while reducing runoff and reducing evaporation that can happen with spray watering systems. Drip irrigation conserves 50-70% more water than traditional methods while increasing crop production by 20-90%.
5. There are smart phone apps to help you with irrigation. The Crop Water app helps give you an easy way to estimate soil water status. Irrigate Cost comes with a decision making spreadsheet to help answer questions about cost for irrigating land. Water Meter Calculator calculates the number of inches of water applied by irrigation over a given time and can even apply it to your yearly and multi-year allocation caps.
6. Minimize runoff and waste. If too much water is applied and the storage capacity of the soil is exceeded, runoff occurs. A way to correct this is making sure water is applied with precision and make sure you’re proper irrigation techniques. If using sprinklers, make sure they are properly spaced. This will improve efficiency and prevent over-irrigation.
7. Perform routine maintenance on your irrigation systems and equipment. This will reduce the costs if problems occur down the road requiring expensive repairs. Regular maintenance to irrigation systems can also help ensure cover crops are being irrigated properly. Replace old worn-out, leaky nozzles. Plan for upgrades to the irrigation systems between five and ten years as maintenance costs can become overwhelming.
Check out Fastline for your next piece of irrigation equipment.