We brought in a guest writer this week for the article on organic irrigation. The writer’s name is Matt Highsmith and he has a lot of experience in installing and repairing irrigation systems in the farms of Oxnard, CA. He’s owner and operator of Highsmith & Daughters Plumbing Inc. located in Simi Valley, CA. Thanks Matt for taking some time to explain organic irrigation to our readers…
Setting up an irrigation system is one of the biggest challenges organic farmers face. One has to think through the irrigation design system to use, how to install it and most importantly, how much it will cost. Having the right knowledge about irrigation systems is the first step to ensuring your organic farming project turns out to be a success.
So, here are things you need to know about irrigation systems employed in organic farming:
What Is The Essence Of Having An Irrigation System In An Organic Farm?
Irrigation is basically meant to supply water to crops in a farmland so as to aid crop growth. Sometimes plant nutrients may also be applied via irrigation. In organic farming, irrigation systems are mainly used for purposes of conservation and crop sustainability, especially during the dry season(s). Irrigation generally ensures high-quality crop yields and smooth transition into another planting season.
What Options Are Available For Organic Irrigation?
There are several irrigation methods that farmers can use in any type of farming but there are those that are specially designed for organic farming. However, the methods differ largely depending on the climate and the type of crops being grown.
Here are the main irrigation design systems you can choose from, as an organic farmer:
– Drip Irrigation:
This form of irrigation conveys water to crop roots via low-pressure pumps, installed either at the ground level or underground. Drip irrigation has the potential to save water, especially in the dry season, since it allows water to drip slowly to the plant roots.
-Surface irrigation: This method does not require the use of pumps. It actually uses gravity to move water across the land that’s on a downhill. The fact that this form of irrigation uses less energy to deliver water makes it one of the best options for organic farming.
-Center-Pivot Irrigation: With this type of irrigation design system, water flows from a series of sprinklers set up on wheeled towers. Center-pivot irrigation uses pumps to operate. The method is mostly used on flat, large-scale farms and is capable if irrigating up to a 130-acre farm area.
-Manual Irrigation: This method of irrigation, which is only practical in small-scale farms, involves someone physically watering each plant in the farm or greenhouse by hand. With manual irrigation, a farmer may use a bucket or watering can to water the plants. The method is commonly used in backyard farms.
So, Which Is The Best Irrigation Method For Organic Farming?
Well, each of the methods discussed above has its own merits and demerits. It all comes down to your organic farm size and needs as well as your irrigation budget. Otherwise, all the methods can work as effectively as they should on your farm. If you are planning to farm during the rainy season, then there’s no need to set up an irrigation system. You can simply let the rain take care of all your irrigation needs.
Why the Water Source Matters In Organic Farming Irrigation
As an organic farmer seeking to water plants, especially during the dry season, it would be important to consider where you are going to draw water from. You can use water from an onsite-well, rainwater collection or from the local municipal water source. The source of the water, regardless of the one you prefer, should always remain pure and unpolluted. The use of polluted water-even for a short period of time might end up contaminating the crops, something that’s purely against your organic farming goals.