SPIN farmers have always used water conservatively. Given the recent dramatic heat and droughts, many of us have to start factoring in water scarcity in how we operate and plan for the future that go above and beyond.
Of course, we all rely on rainfall as much as we can. But this year, some of us really haven’t had any yet. Urban farmers are used to just turning on the water faucet, but some cities and towns are imposing water restrictions.
Hauling our own water is becoming a new best practice. This involves identifying alternate water sources, like a town pump or local creek if restrictions allow. You’ll also need to invest hundreds of dollars in a pump, hoses, fittings and storage tanks. Remember to brush up on water safety. Because the water collected sits and becomes stagnant, treatment may be required for algae and mosquitoes if it sits too long. Plus you’ll need to adjust your work flow to allocate time and effort in hauling the water to your various plots.
Here’s some stats:
— One inch/acre (40,000 sq. ft.)= 28,000 US gallons
— One inch/SPIN segment (1,00 sq. ft.) = 600 gallons
–One inch/SPIN bed (50 sq. ft.) = 50 gallons
–Heavy waterings = 3/4 inch
It’s also a good time to brush up on your watering IQ. Not all crops have the same watering needs. Some crops only require frequent light waterings. Radishes are an example.
Some crops have different watering needs depending on their stage of growth. Example: from one week after sprouting, carrots do better with light water for the following month. Then you need to switch to less frequent deep waterings.
Deep-rooted crops require heavier watering than shallow rooted crops.
What this all calls for is some extra investment, changes in work flow, plot configurations and planting strategies, and extra planning and studying. That’s what January is for.
The term “water wars” is now showing up in more headlines, and whether we signed up for it or not, farmers are being recruited in the fight. Water challenges aren’t new for us, so we’re up for the task. As a SPIN farmer, you can make quick adaptations in your irrigation pretty quickly because of your small scale and farm design. That’s a strategic advantage that will serve us well, regardless of which way the water wars go.
GET MORE SMART IRRIGATION TIPS FOR WHATEVER THE WEATHER THROWS AT YOU IN THE SPIN ONLINE SUPPORT GROUP. FREE TRIAL MEMBERSHIP WITH THE PURCHASEOF ANY SPIN GUIDE HERE.