A Guide to Organic Farm Irrigation System Design

2017
09.18

There are many important aspects of planning out an organic farm. According to The Irrigation Shop, one of the biggest feats to tackle in any farming setup is the farm irrigation design. What exactly is irrigation you may ask? Irrigation is the supply of water to crops and farmland to aid in crop growth. While farm irrigation systems are not mandatory, they aid in ensuring high quality crop yields and are used on almost all farms.

Water Source

Water sources are typically from the local municipal water source, on-site wells, or rainwater collection. It is very important that the water source remains pure and unpolluted. If the water source is contaminated and you continue to water your crops with it, the crop in question is undoubtedly tainted with the same pollutants present in the water source.

Irrigation Design

There are several different avenues of design you can explore with farm irrigation systems, some are better suited to organic farms than others. Drip irrigation delivers water to the plant roots through low pressure pumps either at ground level or underground. Surface irrigation bypasses the use of pumps, using gravity to carry water across land downhill.

One of the main things to take into consideration with organic farm irrigation equipment is energy use. This makes the surface irrigation design one of the best options for organic farms whenever possible. The next type of irrigation farming is the centre pivot irrigation design. Center-pivot irrigation is typically used on flat, large-scale farms and requires the use of pumps and sprinklers on wheeled towers. Manual irrigation is only effective for very small scale farms, where workers physically water each crop by hand.

Organic Irrigation Farming

Since most organic farms are typically smaller scale, manual watering is very feasible and favoured. Nothing beats letting the rain take care of your watering needs, watering only areas needing a bit of love. When organic farms start to grow in size, the next best option is the drip irrigation design. Since this design uses low-pressure pumps, energy use remains generally small in the grand scheme of things.

Another benefit of drip irrigation is that you can incorporate nutrient distribution with the same system. The only downside to drip irrigation is that installation can be a bit costly, which largely depends on a few factors. One being the soil quality, the type of terrain and sewing pattern also play huge roles in the affordability of drip irrigation.

The most important factor being the type of crop you are watering. Certain fruits and veggies require more or less water than others. If farms have blocks split into several different crop varieties, the cost rises as more main pipes and switches will be required.

Surface irrigation can also be employed as a cheap, greener option for organic farms. This type of irrigation works well with closely planted crops. If water needs to be pumped uphill, renewable resources like solar or wind energy can be used to transport water uphill to storage tanks that release water downhill to the crops.

Planning

The best way to go about designing your irrigation equipment is by drawing it all out on paper, deciding which irrigation design best suits your farm and planning how many main pipes will need to be installed, as well as water switches. The next step is to call local vendors to get price quotes for your specific acreage and design. Most local vendors are going to be a bit cheaper than larger scale irrigation equipment suppliers, so the more research you do, the better the pricing.

Read Also: New Equipment for Future Organic Farmers

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