The Basics of Water Efficiency

We talk about this a lot and it’s a hot topic in this industry: irrigation efficiency. Here’s what you need to know.

Irrigation in the grand scheme of things, yes, is wasteful. However, designing and operating an efficient irrigation system is a whole other story. There are so many good was to incorporate water conservation in a design. Proper drainage, storm water management, rain harvesting, irrigation ponds and efficient irrigation system designs can all add up to a conservative system.

Knowing your design helps you better understand irrigation needs.

1. Know Your Plants

First, it is important to understand the water needs of the plants incorporated in your design. The amount of water each plant uses from the soil profile each day depends on the daily temperatures and amount of wind during the growing season, the growth stage of the plant, and the amount of residue on the surface of the soil.  Know how much water your crop is using, you must monitor the soil moisture in your fields.

2. Know Your Soil

Next, it is important to know a few characteristics about the soils being irrigated. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, each type of soil has a different water holding capacity and intake rate. The water holding capacity is primarily determined by the soil textures within the rooting depth of the crops. Water holding capacity is also affected the salinity of the soil, and the amount of organic matter in the soil. The soil intake rate is a measure of how fast water can infiltrate into the soil. The intake rate is determined primarily by the texture of the soil, but it can also be affected by soil chemistry and organic matter levels.

3. Know Your Water

The third part of the soil-plant-water relationship, is of course the water. Knowing the actual flow of water being delivered is critical to improving irrigation efficiency. Proper irrigation has to do with the above factors in addition to design. Watering sidewalks and playground equipment can be decreased and in some cases avoided with a good design.  Implementing a head to head design will allow for even watering with less wasted water. This is where we come in, WC3 can help you with your irrigation design!

4. Know Your Design

So the fourth piece of information needed is the configuration of area being irrigated. It is important to keep in mind slopes, which is used to help determine the depth and proper rate water should be applied. Knowing the size or the desired irrigated space will determine the throw of the head and the amount of heads to install.  Further conservation can be incorporated when using drip irrigation for flower beads. This is a more direct way of watering that will ensure the force of the spray heads don’t effect more delicate plants.

By far, most water is wasted simply because too much water is applied and in the wrong areas. Irrigation is a toll to enhance your design; and done right it won’t be at the cost of the environment.