The biggest issue that today’s farmers face in crop growing is drought as well as all aspects of ensuring fields have enough water.
Ag irrigation systems that enable farmers to track water management have become critical tools that keep many farms actively producing crops.
Because water usage and conservation is a prime concern, it’s essential to understand all of the factors that affect irrigation besides rainfall amounts and cost-effective use from water management systems.
Ag irrigation services find that with thorough knowledge of these factors, it’s easier to manage water usage and achieve the highest yields without waste.
Soil Composition and Type
The amount of supplemental irrigating your fields need for optimal plant growth will differ based on the soil they are growing in.
- Sandy soils may be easier for some plants to grow in but require more irrigation as so much water is lost to evaporation.
- Clay soils hold water much longer so less water needs to be delivered via ag irrigation systems; however, water management is critical as if it is too wet, clay soils can actually hold too much water and ruin plants as a result.
The number and spacing of sprinkler nozzles as well as the amount of water delivered through them is critical for all soil types to keep irrigation amounts ideal.
Another reason that precise management of irrigation systems is so critical is the possibility of over-watering, especially when there is significant rainfall.
Too much water can reduce soil quality in two significant ways.
- It will cause runoff that washes away important nutrient-rich topsoil.
- Along with the topsoil, runoff can also wash away critical organic matter within the soil that adds nitrogen and phosphorus that keeps the soil fertile.
Without these nutrients from the topsoil and organic material, plant growth is reduced.
Elevated areas may be more susceptible to drier conditions and runoff, while lower areas may suffer from over-irrigation.
Irrigation management should include surveying to get an idea of which fields are more likely to experience certain issues so that water management can be tailored as necessary.
Water Table Levels
Areas that see all four seasons can experience challenges keeping the water table of their fields balanced to provide just enough water to growing plants.
Spring rains can saturate fields and prevent planting or affect growing seedlings, while summer heatwaves can create excessive dryness.
All this fluctuation must also be considered when setting up and programming irrigation systems to try to balance it all out.
In regions that see too much water during rainy seasons, ag irrigation services may also recommend adding drainage to areas where saturation is most likely to keep the water table at a more ideal level to reduce plant stress from either over-watering or not enough water.
A Look Back
Ensuring optimal plant growth involves a lot more than simply installing a farm irrigation system.
To promote strong, healthy plants that thrive from just enough moisture, irrigation system services stress the careful management of numerous external factors.
Weather, soil type and quality, typography, and water tables all affect plant growth as well as how much or how little water should be delivered via irrigation systems.
Fortunately, with today’s more advanced farm irrigation systems, monitoring these and other factors is easier than it’s ever been!