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Irrigation and How It Works

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By : Faith Warner    99 or more times read
Irrigation should have correct frequency and duration of watering. It is determined as Irrigation Scheduling, which is the process used by irrigation system managers. Moreover, there are factors to be considered in this process.

  1. Precipitation rate of the irrigation equipment or how quickly the water is applied. This is often expressed in inches or mm per hour.

  2. How uniformly the water is applied, expressed as a percentage, the higher the number, the more uniform.

  3. Soil infiltration rate or how quickly the water is absorbed by the soil.

  4. The topography of the land being irrigated as this affects how quickly runoff occurs. It is often expressed as a percentage.

  5. Soil available water capacity.

  6. Effective rooting depth of the plants to be watered, which affects how much water can be stored in the soil and made available to the plants.

  7. Current watering requirements of the plant often expressed in inches per day.

  8. Amount of time in which water or labor may be available for irrigation.

  9. Amount of allowable moisture stress which may be placed on the plant. For high value vegetable crops, this may mean no allowable stress, while for a lawn some stress would be allowable, since the goal would not be to maximize production, but merely to keep the lawn green and healthy.

  10. Timing to take advantage of projected rainfall.

  11. Timing to take advantage of favorable utility rates.

  12. Timing to avoid interfering with other activities such as sporting events, holidays, lawn maintenance, or crop harvesting.

To apply enough water to fully wet the plant's root zone while minimizing overwatering and then allow the soil to dry out in between waterings, to allow air to enter the soil and encourage root development, but not so much that the plant is stressed beyond what is allowable is the goal of Irrigation Scheduling.

Recently, more sophisticated irrigation controllers have been developed that receive ET input from either a single on-site weather station or from a network of stations and automatically adjust the irrigation schedule accordingly. When properly set up and maintained, these controllers do tend to conserve water over conventional human scheduling as the program is updated at least daily.

Rain sensors and soil moisture sensing devices such as capacitance sensors, tensiometers and gypsum blocks are other devices that helps in irrigation scheduling.
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