Water is one of our most valuable resources. It keeps us alive, provides nourishment for growing plants and flowers, and is necessary for all living beings. But did you ever stop to wonder how many gallons of water it takes to grow a single tomato? 3.3 gallons. Even more astounding is that one lonely walnut will need almost 5 gallons of water to grow! With demand for green conservation techniques on the rise and the need to conserve in the forefront of everyone’s mind, here are three simple ways that farmers can use less water, whether they are backyard gardeners or responsible for thousands of acres that provide food for the general public.
Better Irrigation Systems
In the past, people thought that water was an unlimited resource and used irrigation systems that reflected that (surface irrigation or flooding irrigation, which meant they literally flooded the crop fields with water). Statistics now show that up to 60% of the water used in traditional irrigation methods is actually lost due to seepage or evaporation. Today a better, greener choice is to upgrade to a more modern, water-efficient sprinkler, pivot, or drip line irrigation system. Although these systems may be more expensive, they lose as little as 5 to 25% of their water, which is much better for the environment.These systems deliver the water directly to the plants’ roots, whether by droplets or drips, and don’t waste any to ground seepage or evaporation.
Lining Ditches and Irrigation Canals
A lot of water is also lost through seepage if ditches and canals are not properly lined. Traditionally farmers have used concrete in their canals, but concrete cracks because of soil heave and thermal expansion. A better choice is to use synthetic geomembranes made from reinforced polyethylene to line all canals and ditches. “A geomembrane liner loses less water because it’s impermeable,” says Shane Carter of Western Environmental Liner. These types of liners are also much less expensive than traditional concrete in the long run. Western Liner is one of the world’s largest providers of geomembranes for irrigation and other uses.
Adding an Onsite Reservoir
The third way to use less water for farming is to consider adding an onsite reservoir that can catch rainfall to use during times of drought. This way you can recycle the water back into your irrigation system instead of using wellwater or paying the utility company for watering your plants. This is especially useful in states that have plentiful rainfall in the spring and winter – if a reservoir can collect and store the rain water, it will be available to use during the drier seasons. Adding a reservoir is also relatively simple: dig a hole, dig a trench around it, add a pond liner, tuck it into the trench and cover the trench with earth.
An even better strategy is to establish what is called a pivot irrigation system, which uses less water and can be cheaper to implement. The pivot system distributes water from the reservoir in a round pattern around a central pivot point, creating what some call “crop circles” if observed from space. This is a highly efficient method of water distribution with very little waste.
Water conservation should be a top priority for all of us going forward.
Judy lees is a super-connector with AYC Web Solutions who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition.