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As an Agriculture Extension Agent for Texas AgriLife Extension Service I have had an opportunity to be involved in just about every aspect of agriculture. From the 5,000 cow dairy to the types of trees to use in a home landscape I have had a chance to learn how the different parts of an agriculture systems work together. Seedless watermelons, drip irrigation, pecan orchard management, fruit crop development, dairy nutrient management, environmental issues confronting agriculture, producer tours, field days, research projects and more have been a part of my life for over 30 years as I lived and breathed agriculture. Since 2004 I have been actively involved in consulting internationally working in Honduras, Guatemala, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, India, and China. I have worked with missionaries and other groups dedicated to alleviating poverty among third world farmers. I lived in the Middle East in 2007-2008 working on a project for the Borlaug Institute of International Agriculture at Texas A&M University. In this project I was the Chief of Party and Team Leader for a $5.7 Million dollar effort to train Iraqi Extension agents and specialists in all aspects of agriculture.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Drip Irrigation, Water When the Plants Need It

I am constantly amazed at how few people use drip irrigation for their gardens, shrubs or flower beds. Most people avoid new technology like the plague but drip irrigation has been around for decades and now installation is easier than ever. Remember it’s about water savings but probably more important for this fast paced world it’s labor saving too.
The basic component parts of a drip irrigation system are: water source (well or city), filter, pressure regulator, delivery lines and emitters. The filter is a must if you have a well but not a high priority with city water so that a $5 filter is fine. The pressure regulator allows the lines and emitters to operate at low pressure (10-25 lbs) so that very little water comes out at a time. Depending on the type of emitter, we are talking about 0.5-2 gallons per hour per emitter. The lines are black poly pipe easily joined together with low pressure fittings since we use low water pressure. The emitters can be punched into the poly pipe wherever you have a plant or for vegetable gardens you can use drip irrigation tape that is thin walled and the emitters are already molded into it.
The place to start is with a knowledgeable salesperson. He can help you know what parts to buy and the best material to buy. Once you purchase the parts you simply start at the faucet or hose end with your filter and pressure regulator. The poly pipe is laid to your first plant and an emitter is punched in and the poly pipe goes on to the next plants until all are covered by the system. The poly can be buried in the ground or under mulch for easy repairs. For real labor savings install a timer at the faucet and leave the watering to the system. It’s easy and fun so why not give it a try.
Drought Continues to Linger
A simple drive around Williamson County and you easily tell that we are in a drought. West of I35 the drought has been so long and so severe that we are losing cedar trees along with oaks and cedar elm. Pastures have produced a small hay crop with the potential for more hay cuttings dwindling daily in the heat and wind. On the east side of I35 in the Blackland crops, a majority of the corn acres are all but gone in this hot, dry weather. Some areas have received spotty showers but overall corn is suffering or has died with very little ear production. Sorghum and cotton both are drought tolerant and they are holding their own but without rain soon even they will be gone with little if any production. Most hay producers did get one hay cutting but the yields were down and there has not been any growth for a second hay cutting. Currently hay prices are up and with most of the state still in the drought prices will continue to be high. Add to this that all livestock prices are low and you don’t have a good scenario for livestock producers in 2009. Too expensive to feed and too cheap to sell!
Lastly our landscapes are not without problems as well even though we have irrigation. Most trees and to some extent shrubs are not heavily watered and because of this they are showing extreme stress or death. Lawns have to be watered weekly or they brown quickly and most people report that turf growth has slowed significantly unless watered constantly. If this isn’t enough with the lack of rainfall we can expect to see our four legged friends return in abundance to our landscapes because there just isn’t enough to eat out in the wild. Hunger will help them overcome their fear of humans real quick and a tasty landscape is sure inviting!
So what can we say except Pray for Rain!

2 comments:

drip irrigation systems said...

this is a good solution in two ways. one, the plants get water the time they need, no more and no less. second, it's great solution to save water.

tee shirt femme said...

J'ai acheté une maison et a commencé à mon propre jardin. J'ai toujours jardiné (et n'a jamais eu peur de se salir), mais a eu sur ma propre terre. Quelle poisse, hein?