Without an adequate supply of high-quality irrigation water your crops can never achieve their potential for both quality and yields. All farming inputs are diminished by poor quality irrigation water. Poor quality water has a direct influence on nutrient availability. If you have poor quality crops and low yielding crops, testing your irrigation water quality is highly recommended. “As the water goes, so does your soil”
Irrigation water is just as important as the soil. Soils take on the characteristics of irrigation water. If you have poor quality water, your soil quality will be poor.
Nutrients are only available to your crops when they are dissolved in the soil solution. Ideal irrigation water has a pH of 7 or less. This allows nutrients to remain in the soil solution and available for your crops. You may find that you can eliminate problems with nutrient deficiencies by making simple adjustments to the chemistry of the irrigation water.
Water that is too pure, like snow melt or rainwater will always take nutrients with it as it leaches. Prolonged use of pure water can strip cations (Ca, Mg, K, Na) from the soil resulting in low nutrient levels. Pure irrigation water can also cause crusting and reduced water infiltration as clay particle become dispersed after drying.
A bicarbonate level of 180 ppm in your irrigation water means you will apply 500 lbs per ac/ft of water applied. A high value crop may take 4 ac/ft of water per year. This means you are applying approximately 2,000 lbs of bicarbonate per acre to your soil. Each pound of bicarbonate will tie up one pound of calcium and potassium!
High Sodium, low carbonate irrigation water can create sodic soils. The sodium causes the soil structure to deteriorate, resulting in poor water infiltration and percolation. High sodium water can decrease the availability of nutrients to the plant even when the soil is saturated.
Irrigation water with high sodium, high bicarbonates and carbonates react with calcium and magnesium to precipitate into insoluble lime. Sodium and bicarbonate affect the transformations and availability of several essential plant nutrients.
How to adjust water quality
To improve water infiltration and improve irrigation water’s ability to carry nutrients and penetrate soil, you may have to adjust the quality. Contact one of our agronomy specialists to learn more about properly testing your soil and water to determine the best course of action on your farm.
It may be necessary to dissolve gypsum into pure irrigation water to increase the water electrical conductivity for better water penetration. Gypsum injection may also prevent problems that are created by irrigating with pure water.
To treat high bicarbonate and carbonate levels in irrigation water, acidifying with an acid such as a sulfuric acid / N-Phuric / phosphoric acid or the use of a sulfur burner (sulfurous acid) is a preferred method of treatment. Contact one of our agronomy specialists to determine how much acid is recommended in your situation.
Bicarbonates are common in natural water and are the leading cause of crusting and sealing of soils. Treating high bicarbonate/carbonate water will allow the calcium and magnesium to remain available to displace the sodium from the soil.
In sodic soils, calcium applications might be required to displace sodium from the soil and correct problems with soil structure.
Applying gypsum though the irrigation system effectively keeps the soil open for water infiltration.
Hydrophobic soils are soils that repel water. Water repellent soil develops when hydrophobic organic coatings from around individual sand/soil particles. These waxy organic coatings repel water from the soil and limit water availability to the plant.
Hydrophobic soil is most often formed when hot air disperses waxy compounds found in the uppermost layer of organic matter. Frequent wet-dry-wet cycles associated with intense irrigation also cause the waxy compounds to disperse.
Hydrophobic soil can cause an uneven distribution of water which can result in wind erosion water erosion, water runoff, patchy growth, early growth, reduced yield, and increase water pumping costs.
What is AquaDrive
AquaDrive is a block polymer surfactant with a hydrophobic tail that is attracted to water repellent, hydrophobic soils. The hydrophilic head attracts and retains moisture, improving soil wetting and moisture retention. This keeps water from running off the soil and drives the water into the soil.
AquaDrive adsorbs to the soil causing the soils to absorb more water and wet more evenly. One application can be good more multiple irrigation cycles.
Using the Diamond K Applicator
The Diamond K Applicator is the world’s easiest to use gypsum injector. Specifically designed for Diamond K water-soluble fertilizers and minerals. The Diamond K Applicator delivers the right amount of water and plant nutrients more cost effectively than other irrigation system injectors.
Using water pressure alone, with no agitation, our patented rotary sprinkler generates a slight vibration to disperse water and solubilize Diamond K dry products.
The easy-to-read metering gauge ensures accurate injection of fertilizer into irrigation water. Application is constant throughout the irrigated area.
With only one moving part, the Diamond K Applicator is virtually maintenance-free.
The Diamond Applicator can be loaded by hand from 50lb bags, with 2000 lb bags, from a tender cart, or you can set up a bulk silo system to feed the applicator.
It is compatible with all forms of irrigation, including, drip, micro, solid set, flood, pivot, and linear. It works with high or low flow pressure.
Contact one of our agronomy specialists to learn more about the highest quality soluble minerals, fertilizer and water treatment products available.
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