Agriculture Farming accounts for 70% of the water consumed and most of it’s wasteful use, according to representatives from the World Water Forum discussing water management. An Irrigation system is a method of delivering water to an area where it is needed. The problem is that irrigation systems are only 30-40% efficient when it comes to watering crops and soil. The effectiveness of the irrigation is determined by a number of different factors, including the type of delivery system and the conditions at its time of use.
There are two main types of irrigation systems; both can be utilized in the garden and for agriculture farming. The first kind of irrigation system is a drip system; a drip system uses drip lines, micro sprays, and mini rotators to emit the water over vegetation. A drip system may be used underground to dampen the surface of the soil or above ground to drip over top plants and vegetables. Certain emitters deliver water exactly where plants need it; this can reduce weeds and also save water. The most commonly used irrigation system are overhead sprinklers. Sprinkler heads are known as ‘head-to-head’ coverage because they are setup to completely cover a certain distance. Most sprinkler heads use far too much water and never allow the soil to fully absorb the water causing a waste.
To improve irrigation systems such as the most commonly used; Sprinkler head, there are several methods for making it more efficient. The life expectancy of a sprinkler head is about 10 years, so checking and replacing the head is very important when reducing leaks. A pipeline that was buried barely leaks, although above ground pipelines often have worn gaskets and up to 30% of water may be lost before if it even reaches the discharge point. Switching to drip irrigation is also a huge benefit to water and crops since the water goes directly to the plants root, reducing evaporation. Maintaining pumps regularly, including proper care will also have significant cost savings and reduce water loss.
Making these small changes would result in not only benefits to the farmer, but also to our ecosystem and society. Water that can be saved could be dedicated to other uses. But there are many reasons to seek reductions in total water loss, allowing farmers to improve their crops, quality of water, reducing fertilizer, energy costs and boosting profits.
Now, speaking hypothetically, there is a ½ acre of property that uses a sprinkler head irrigation system for their crops. Assume there’s a typical 6 gallon a minute output per zone on the field. To figure out how much water is being used a month we’ll need to figure out the amount of zones there are, and the minutes per cycle. Let’s say there are 8 large zones running 20 minutes per cycle, and 5 smaller zones running 10 minutes per cycle, running 4 days a week. To calculate how much water is being used a month in this scenario we’ll need to do some calculations.
6 gallons a minute per large zone x 20 minutes per cycle= 120 gallons per zone per cycle
6 gallons a minute per small zone x 10 minutes per cycle= 60 gallons per zone per cycle
120 x 8 zones= 960 gallons per cycle for 8 large turf zones
60 x 5 = 300 gallons per cycle for 5 small turf zones
960 x 4 cycles= 3,840 gallons per week for 8 large turf zones
300 x 4 days = 1,200 gallons per week for 5 small turf zones
3,840 x 4 weeks= 13,920 gallons a month for 8 large turf zones
1,200 x 4 weeks= 4,800 gallons a month for 5 small turf zones
Totaling 18,720 gallons a month through a sprinkler head irrigation system
Therefore, since we found out that approximately 18,720 gallons of water is used in just one month for a half an acre of land, imagine how much is actually wasted for every farm just in PA. Previously, 30% of the water was mentioned to be wasted. That’s almost 6,000 gallons of water being wasted a month for only a half acre of land. By far, most water is wasted simply because too much water is being applied to the field. Checking and replacing old parts of the system, improving the head of water available, or changing the kind of irrigation system will need to be considered to maximize irrigation efficiency.
“Farms Waste Much of World’s Water.” Wired.com. Conde Nast Digital, n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2016. http://www.wired.com/2006/03/farms-waste-much-of-worlds-water/
- Used to find percentages of water wasted
- Effectiveness of irrigation systems and water
“6 Ways to Improve Irrigation Efficiency.” AgWeb. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.http://www.agweb.com/article/6_ways_to_improve_irrigation_efficiency__naa_university_news_release/
- Ways to improve irrigation systems (middle of draft)
“Types of Sprinkler Systems.” Conserve H2O. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2016.http://www.conserveh2o.org/sprinkler-system-types
- Comparing the two types of irrigation systems
- Improving irrigation systems (ending of draft)