The May 2012 Newsletter talks about my garden, and how my plants are doing. There are a few tips for garden maintenance and irrigation, as well!
Many dry climates, such as regions in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas face another Dust Bowl if farming practices and water usage methods don’t change. Vast portions of Texas as well as other states that range as far north as Nebraska withdraw water from the Ogallala Aquifer, which is quickly being over drafted. Since these regions are mostly dry, hot climates, they must use significantly more water per unit of crop than a farm in a cooler climate, such as Minnesota or Idaho. Adding to the excess water use, many crops are not commercially grown in climates similar to their natural climates. For example, 900 grams are required to grow one pound of soybeans. 1,700 liters of water is required to grow one pound of rice.
As a result of government subsidies, farmers grow crops that are not necessarily the most efficient for that given zone. By growing crops that are better suited for dry climates, farmers would significantly reduce the amount of water needed to grow their crops. Another significant factor that contributes to excess water use by commercial farms is that of inefficient irrigation systems.
How many times have you driven past a farm with their irrigation system on around noon and seen clouds of mist blowing away? There are multiple problems with this scene. For starters, noon is one of the hottest times of the day where evaporation rates are highest. This causes more water to evaporate instead of being used by crops. Also, the irrigation systems frequently release clouds of mist because of incorrect pressure. Higher pressures in irrigation system cause sprinkler heads to emit much smaller droplets of water, which are easily blown by wind and evaporated. Another problem with this situation is the inefficient irrigation system: rotors. Rotor irrigation systems work by spraying the entire ground with water, but because of the low efficiency rates, they waste a significant amount of water. By retrofitting these systems with targeting irrigation systems such as drip emitters, the water is only deposited at the base of plants. This reduces the amount of wasted water because there is significantly reduced evaporation, and the water that flows out of the emitters travels directly to the plant roots, as opposed to wetting the entire surface.
Since wastewater has been treated by sewage treatment plants, people have wondered if it can be used to irrigate crops. Many have argued that wastewater, also known as recycled water, or non-potable water, should not be used for crops since it does not meet the standards required for drinking water. However, farmers, water purveyors, and water districts have recently been pushing to use recycled water to irrigate crops.
The main argument against this issue is that mentioned before—that it doesn’t meet drinking water standards. Critics claim that the water can contain harmful bacteria or other contaminants such as metals that are unhealthy for human consumption. However, this water is considered to be safe enough to swim in.
Environmentalists argue that the water is safe enough to be used for irrigation. If the water is not used by irrigation, it must be released into natural ecosystems such as lakes or streams. The surge of water often changes the temperature or chemical composition of the water, making it inhospitable for native species. For example, water that is either too warm or too cold will change the temperature of surrounding water enough that spawning salmon will not be able to breed.
To read more about the subject, visit: http://hanfordsentinel.com/articles/2010/01/19/news/doc4b54a8855769b557891315.txt