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Farmers: 6 Ways to Reduce Water Usage

By    |   Tuesday, 14 Jun 2016 08:03 AM

Getting the largest harvest using the fewest natural resources is a worthy goal for farmers. With summer comes potential for drought, so here are six ways to reduce water usage all year round.

1. Drip irrigation — Using drip irrigation to water crops can use up to 80 percent less water than traditional overhead watering systems, says the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA). Drip irrigation wastes less water because it delivers water directly to the plants’ root zones where it is most needed, greatly reducing evaporation. The bonus is that drip irrigation is better for plants, too, since overhead watering can facilitate the spread of some plant diseases.

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2. Use technology — Accurate weather forecasting apps can also help reduce water usage. Farmers who monitor the forecast can adjust their irrigation systems accordingly instead of using preset programs that never change. According to Seametrics, there are advanced weather apps that provide up-to-the-minute precipitation predictions.

3. Plant a diverse farm — This can help conserve water by improving soil health, says Food Tank. Good strategies include planting cover crops, using companion planting, and planting trees to reduce runoff. These practices keep nutrients and and water in the soil.

4. Go organic — Organic farming has been shown to reduce water usage, according to a 30-year trial by the Rodale Institute. The researchers found that organically-grown corn produced a 30-percent higher yield in years of drought compared to conventionally-grown corn. Organic farming practices encourage microbial activity in the soil which makes it act like a sponge, soaking up water and delivering it to plants as needed.

5. Store rainwater — In times of heavy rain, it makes sense to try storing rainwater for later use. Doing so is an effective way to reduce water usage on farms all year, says CUESA. Some farmers build special ponds to capture water for crops and provide additional habitat for wildlife.

6. Plant drought-tolerant crops — These, along with crops that are appropriate for your planting zone, can help conserve water. CUESA says some crop varieties have been identified over time as having less water needs.

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Getting the largest harvest using the fewest natural resources is a worthy goal for farmers. With summer comes potential for drought, so here are six ways to reduce water usage all year round.
farmers, ways, reduce, water, usage
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2016-03-14
Tuesday, 14 Jun 2016 08:03 AM
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