Energy Conservation in Irrigation
When it gets hot and dry our plants need water. Irrigation is an excellent
tool to ensure consistent yield and quality through dry periods. However,
irrigation systems can use large amounts of energy which can be costly,
especially as the cost of diesel and electricity rise.
Effective irrigation helps conserve water and can also help reduce
your energy costs.
Effective irrigation can be achieved using 4 principles:
- Know the general water requirements of your crop
- Use an irrigation schedule for your operation to determine irrigation
volume to apply and frequency of application (based on crop, soil
texture and climate)
- Modify your schedule based on current weather (rain and heat)
- Verify your methods by monitoring soil moisture
Effective irrigation means applying only the right amount of water
when the plant needs it. This avoids unnecessary water pumping which
uses energy and costs money.
An over application of 1" water over 1 acre costs $10 in energy
(to operate a traveller with limited lift and a short distance to
field). If you multiply that by the irrigated acres it begins to add
Imagine you have a 50 acre farm and you apply 2" of water when
the plants only require 1.5". You also irrigated 6 times when
you only needed to irrigate 4 times. This means 5" of water were
applied unnecessarily. The application of those 5" over 50 acres
cost you $2,500! That's enough money to take your spouse on a plane
to Hawaii next winter!
Other Energy Conservation Tips
- Irrigate more effectively: avoid irrigation on hot sunny and/or windy
days. Try to irrigate at night when you will have minimum evaporation
- Only apply the amount of water required for crop growth (excess watering
wastes energy and money)
- Check system regularly for leaks and repair immediately
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