/Irrigation Basics Unpacked

Irrigation Basics Unpacked

Crops are thirsty. They use water to take in nutrients and facilitate processes to grow, flower and yield. And they are finicky. Each crop demands water at different stages. Too little water dries up yields. But too much water causes drowning or runoff.

While rainfall is unpredictable, irrigation quenches crop thirst as needed. And with water scarcity growing, all producers have a stake in water availability and quality issues.

Tim Scates farms with his family near Carmi, Illinois. They irrigate 35-40 per cent of their soybean acres each year with technology that mimics perfect raindrops with varying nozzle sizes, water pressures and spray patterns. Water drops must be large enough not to evaporate, but small and slow enough to not compact the soil. He uses calculations from solar-powered soil moisture probes to decide when and how much to irrigate for maximum return on investment.

“We have to manage irrigation water use and the quality of water leaving our fields,” he says. “We don’t want to waste any water – or the energy it takes to pump it.”

Agricultural water use has become a complex issue around the world. But innovative thinking is providing tools and resources that will help producers like Scates continuously improve water efficiency to protect natural resources and profitability.
Source: ilsoy.org.