Myths and Misconceptions About Agricultural Irrigation

Myths and Misconceptions About Agricultural Irrigation

Agricultural irrigation is an integral part of crop production, and it may seem like a no-brainer when it comes to understanding how it works. But there’s still a lot of confusion surrounding irrigating your crops that you might find surprising. We’ve put together this comprehensive list to help explain some of the more common myths and misconceptions about agricultural irrigation.

Myths and misconceptions on irrigation

Plants require one inch of water every week

The old adage of “one inch per week” is an assumption that applies to some but not all plants or situations. The amount of water your crops require is dependent on several variables like soil type, sunlight exposure, plant variety, and maturity.

To determine precisely how much water your landscape needs, you should conduct a thorough irrigation audit. This means that you should have a trained irrigation professional visit your property to assess its unique needs.

Plant wilting means that your plants need more water

This is a common misconception that many farmers have, especially when they see the leaves of their plants drooping and beginning to die because of the lack of water. However, the truth is that plant wilting is just as likely caused by deficiencies in their root system, which means that your plants may not need more water but are instead yearning for nutrients so they can grow better.

Plant wilting is caused by an imbalance between the roots’ ability to absorb water and the plant’s need for water. Because of this, you will find that plants wilt during hot days and become fine again after it starts raining, as there are more nutrients in the soil to be absorbed.

Leaves can be burnt by overhead watering

There is an old misconception that overhead watering can burn leaves, especially on hot days. However, overhead watering does not cause leaf burn unless water droplets contain chemicals that cling to the foliage for an extended period (i.e., several hours during a hot sunny day). The sun’s rays concentrate the sun’s energy onto the droplets and literally fry the leaf tissue, causing damage. This type of leaf burn is known as phytotoxic injury or scalding.

When applying only water, a more likely outcome would be for the droplets to evaporate first.

Watering your plants with a sprinkler is harmful

Many people think that watering their plants with a sprinkler will cause harm. It is true that in many cases applying the water directly to the soil is preferable, but there may be instances where using overhead sprinklers has added benefits. Such as in dry, windy conditions where they can wash off dust or prevent wilting in high temperatures. If you use a sprinkler, you should keep the soil moist but not so drenched that you drown the roots.

Drought plants do not need water

A drought-tolerant plant is one that is meant to grow in an area where the soil may be moist, but it rarely rains. A drought-tolerant plant will have a deep root system and will be able to thrive in an environment where little water is available. These plants should not be expected to thrive without any water, though. They will still need to be watered on occasion, as they would in their native environment.

You should water newly panted plants every day

Thoroughly drench newly planted trees, shrubs, and flowers, then give the soil time to start drying out – however long that takes. New plantings need more water to establish their root systems in the soil, but watering them every day without checking the soil can set them back in the long run, if not kill them. Overwatering can lead to root rot or shallow root growth, making them more susceptible to drought or poor drainage.

When you use irrigation systems, you waste a lot of water

The idea that irrigation systems wastewater is one of the most common misconceptions about agricultural irrigation. People assume that because these systems use water to grow crops in dry environments, they must be wasteful. But this isn’t the case at all. Irrigation systems are designed to use water efficiently and effectively to maximize crop yields and minimize waste.

You should turn off your irrigation system when it rains

It’s important to remember that rain is not an automatic substitute for watering; therefore, turning off your irrigation system when it rains is not necessarily advisable. It doesn’t rain on a regular schedule, and the amounts are always different, so turning off your system in the middle of a rainy day may actually do more harm than good.

During a rainstorm, moisture may not penetrate the ground deep enough to provide adequate moisture to the roots of your crops. There is often a lot of runoff and evaporation too. Consider installing rain sensors if you are genuinely concerned about conserving water or not overwatering. They will take the guesswork out of whether to run your irrigation system or not and automatically turn it off when needed.

You can train your plants

You may be able to keep your dog quiet, but you can’t train your plants. The idea is that if you only water them every other day or every third day, they’ll start to grow deeper roots and thus become stronger and more drought-resistant. This is just not true. In fact, it’s a great way to kill your plants. The best solution is to pick the best varieties and plant them in the most suitable environment to meet their needs.

You can add gravel to the bottom of your potted plant for better drainage

This is not true; you should use potting soil instead. While it is true that gravel allows water to drain more easily, adding it to potted plants will also cause the soil to dry out too quickly. The result is that the roots start drying out as well.

Now that you’re familiar with the most common myths and misconceptions about irrigation, you can address situations on your farm with more accurate knowledge. Also, feel free to correct the misconceptions of others. You might be surprised by how much you know about this subject.

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