It’s about quality, not quantity!”
Longtime players in the produce industry know that irrigating a farm with clean, high-quality water can help farms pass audits and lessen vulnerability to recalls. But quantity — the amount of water that you use — should also be a consideration.
Conserving water is environmentally responsible, but using your irrigation water and system inefficiently can also lead to excessive energy use and higher costs, especially if you use a high flow rate pump that requires a large electric motor or diesel engine. Uneven application of water can also increase pumping time, and an inconsistent irrigation schedule during the growing season can lead to inefficient water use. All of these possibilities may be hurting your operations and your bottom line more than you realize. Axiall Water Treatment Products Group has these five tips to help you create a more efficient irrigation system:
Follow a Consistent Irrigation Schedule
Pick one method of scheduling and stick to it. This can reduce the amount of water you use and lower your energy use by 7 to 30 percent, according to energy efficiency collaborative E3A. Learning about evapotranspiration and how it affects crop growth rates can also be extremely helpful in establishing a consistent, efficient irrigation schedule.
Check Sprinkler Heads and Nozzles
The average sprinkler head has a lifespan of only seven to 10 years. The shape and condition of the nozzle affects how the water being ejected is distributed — if the diameter is uneven, jagged or irregular, the distribution of the water across your crops will be affected.
It’s also important to note that water with impurities, such as water containing sand or grit, can also accelerate the rate at which your nozzles degrade. Be sure to inspect, test and replace your sprinkler heads on a regular basis.
Replace Leaking Gaskets
Although underground pipelines rarely leak, irrigation systems that utilize above-ground pipelines frequently have worn out gaskets, which can leak up to 30 percent of the water that reaches them. Inspecting above-ground pipelines, replacing leaking gaskets and plugging any leaks are great ways to improve the efficiency of your system and will save money.
Test the Soil
Healthy soil makes for healthy crops. If you haven’t already, get your soil tested by a local cooperative extension. They may offer helpful recommendations like adding organic matter or compost to your soil to improve water penetration. They may suggest manipulating the soil through deep spading, plowing or rototilling in order to break up compacted soil, which can allow roots to grow deeper into the ground.
Even if you have already checked your system for these inefficiencies, it’s always a good time to consider an efficient, convenient water treatment solution like the Accu-Tab® System from Axiall Water Treatment Products. Accu-Tab is a scientifically tested and field proven calcium hypochlorite feed system that effectively kills harmful bacteria, controls algae and fights water molds that can clog lines and emitters. Click here for our irrigation capabilities sheet, including NSF, FDA and EPA certification information.
These are just some ways that farms can help improve the efficiency of their systems.
In general, inefficient irrigation will result from one or more of the following deficiencies:
- Failing to calculate exactly how much water is flowing from the water source to the field
- Not measuring the soil moisture level at the time of irrigation
- Not knowing the daily water requirements of each individual plant
- Non-uniform or excessive slopes running across the field