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Improve your irrigation scheduling - Peter White Water Management


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This presentation formed part of the Farming Futures workshop 'Irrigation in a changing climate: save water, save money, get fit for the future'.

17th November 2009

Published in: Technology
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Improve your irrigation scheduling - Peter White Water Management

  1. 1. Irrigation in a changing climate Save water, save money – improve your irrigation scheduling Peter White Water Management Cloverlea, Nuttery Lane, Aldringham Leiston IP16 4QW UK ‘ phone 07785 393925 Office ‘phone and fax 01728 454 839 Email: [email_address]
  2. 2. How do you decide when to irrigate? <ul><li>Kick the dust? – can we afford to UNDER or OVER-water, </li></ul><ul><li>- Do you know how much your irrigation application costs are? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you know how much poor irrigation is costing you in terms of yield and quality? </li></ul><ul><li>Probably a lot more than you think! </li></ul><ul><li>ET based computer model? </li></ul><ul><li>– how do you know what your starting moisture is? </li></ul><ul><li>Some potatoes sites can have a massive moisture deficit post-planting </li></ul><ul><li>Continuous monitoring Probe? </li></ul><ul><li>The 21 st century method </li></ul><ul><li>build up a detailed picture of exactly what is happening in your soil </li></ul><ul><li>The spade? - essential in managing irrigation scheduling </li></ul>
  3. 3. Peter White Water Management Cloverlea, Nuttery Lane, Aldringham Leiston IP16 4QW UK ‘ phone 07785 393925 Office ‘phone and fax 01728 454 839 Email: [email_address] Leading the way in soil and substrate moisture monitoring solutions, interpretation and advice for more than 15 years.
  4. 5. The technology What happens... The smart probe is inserted into an installation tube drilled through the soil profile. Sensors are located at 10cm intervals which take a reading of the surrounding soil moisture every 30 minutes. The data is recorded and uploaded to the internet it can then be viewed by the grower as a tool to better manage their irrigation. The system displays both changes in soil moisture at each depth and a summed graph of the moisture available to the crop Benefits... *Prevent crop water stress from under or over watering *Reduced nutrient leaching *Reduced disease pressure, *Better root development *Better utilisation of water supplies, Improved quality and yield = Increased profits
  5. 6. View On your PC View on your phone Web Server Our consultancy input Data Collection GPRS
  6. 7. So what can we learn from the soil moisture data collected?
  7. 8. Salad onions – A graph of readings for each depth over time Irrigation/rainfall event Soil drying as the crop takes up water
  8. 9. Salad onions Top 30cm Summed – available water in the active root zone Excess water draining out of the active root zone Water available to the crop
  9. 10. Salad onions Separate Depths Rainfall passing through at 50cm leaching nutrients out of root zone
  10. 11. Salad onions Top 30cm Summed Red line is suggested optimum moisture application schedule for most situations. Certain soils with hydrophobic properties should not be dried to far or they become difficult to re-wet Refill the rooting zone, not just wet the top soil, give all the roots access to water and nutrients
  11. 12. Salad onions Top 30cm Summed ? ? How close to field capacity do we want to refill the soil to? Depends on soil type, crop stage and weather forecast Every situation is different
  12. 13. More data... Good irrigation Potatoes on light land Separate Depths Water uptake at 50cm
  13. 14. Moisture stressed Over irrigation 6 days 8mm/day More data... Good irrigation Potatoes on light land Summed
  14. 15. And the result of good water management in this crop? 32T/Ac by August
  15. 16. This graph shows the sum of the 3 sensors in bagged strawberries. When daily irrigation was turned off.... See how water demand increases as soil is allowed to partially dry Optimum conditions for healthy roots
  16. 17. Where ET models fail... When is 30mm irrigation not 30mm irrigation?
  17. 18. Our probes monitor moisture where it matters – the crop root zone “ your probes are not working, we put on 30mm of water from a boom and your probes have not picked it up” A couple of potato growers have called us this year.... Water lying in the furrow Looked like a generous irrigation from the roadside
  18. 19. We know our sensors are accurate and reliable so what was happening?
  19. 20. Cross section of potato ridge immediately after irrigation Time to put the spade to work.... ET model would assume you had refilled the ridge, yet you can see only the top few cm had wetted up, most of the irrigation had run off into ridge Infiltration rate of the extremely dry ridge too slow to take in 30mm boom irrigation in one application
  20. 21. Saturated furrow, probably leaching nutrients but no roots here at this stage of the crop Does it matter ? at this stage YES – none of the irrigation reached the roots of these young plants The ridge – bone dry, crop is drought stressed, restricting growth and what about moisture for scab control on young tubers?? The solutions Not easy, but if you do not know you have a problem you can not address it. Apply little and often, each application will penetrate a little further into the ridge providing you do not let the previous irrigation dry out Move to drip? Does this happen on your land too?
  21. 22. Another ET example.... Similiar ET Figures Very different actual water uptake
  22. 23. Cost effective tools to help you make informed decisions about your irrigation Provides evidence of appropriate efficient water use when applying for abstraction licences Improve yield, increase quality, better utilise water, labour and fuel
  23. 24. Contact us to arrange a trial system for 2010 Want to know more? Like to try a system in your crops? PeterWhite, Cloverlea, Nuttery Lane, Aldringham Leiston IP16 4QW UK ‘ phone 07785 393925 Office ‘phone and fax 01728 454 839 Email: [email_address] Jonathan Munslow, Rowley Farm Harley Shropshire, SY5 6LX UK ‘ phone 07977 299 113 [email_address]