COLUMN: Get a drip and save some water

Drip irrigation deserves a thought, even on the West Coast.

During one of the recent choking-hot afternoons, I was driving past a Surrey farm and noticed sprinklers showering the field at full blast.

In 30-degree heat, from each sprinkler head, the water was making a high, misty arc before succumbing to gravity.

With all that water flying through the air, how much of it was evaporating before it hit the ground – and the road?

It got me thinking of something I saw on TV as a kid – Israeli engineers making the Negev Desert bloom using drip irrigation.

As I understood it at the time, it was just hoses on the ground with small holes doling out just the right amount of water to the thirsty crops.

It turns out the engineering was more complicated than that, but the basic idea is the same: A drastic reduction in water usage, while giving the plants – specifically their roots – what they need, and no more.

Back in the 1950s and ‘60s, using the new plastics that became available, they developed and patented emitters that dripped water from longer and longer hoses.

(Hoses with only holes weren’t as controllable and they just clogged up over time.)

Drip irrigation wasn’t just good there because of the arid climate, but because the soil was sandy. Small amounts of water in a targeted area meant less water loss.

I remember my grandfather using a basic system of drip irrigation in his own backyard grove. That red soil wasn’t great, but the apples, lemons and oranges grew nicely.

Over the next few decades, growers in places such as Australia and California began adopting and improving drip irrigation methods.

Farmers also discovered that there is a reduction in plant diseases when the above-ground foliage doesn’t come in contact with water.

On top of that, fertilizer can be mixed with the water – “fertigation” – and studies have shown drastic reduction in the amount of fertilizer used to do the same job.

Is there a cost to drip irrigation?

Yes, it’s called the cost – the sizeable initial outlay and the fine-tuning to adapt the system to a particular climate, soil and crop.

It’s a high-maintenance, and nowadays both hardware- and software-dependent endeavour for the modern grower.

Arguably, a few months from now, as we’re running for our umbrellas, few people in B.C. will be thinking about water conservation or drip irrigation.

Our reservoirs may fill back up, but nothing can be counted on – just look at California, which is entering a fifth year of drought.

Now, in B.C., it’s July. It’s hot. And it’s the time to think about it.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Blustery South Surrey walk to benefit homeless

Patricia Mulvaney is walking 10k to boost awareness of Surrey Urban Mission Society

Cloverdale students make puzzles for care home residents

Students from Cloverdale’s Sunrise Ridge delivered gifts to seniors and thank you notes to first responders

‘Not the first time’ for driver clocked at excessive speed in South Surrey

Police say vehicle was doing 148 km/h in 80 km/h zone

Surrey School’s entrepreneurship program expands

‘YELL’ now offered at Queen Elizabeth, Semiahmoo

COVID-19: Update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

JULY 2: Confirmed U.S. cases of COVID-19 at an all-time high

‘This year is unlike any other’: Trudeau delivers Canada day address

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and the Prime Minister release video celebrating the national holiday

US unemployment falls to 11%, but new shutdowns are underway

President Donald Trump said the jobs report shows the economy is “roaring back”

Ottawa jail inmates argue anti-COVID measures a breach of charter rights

The prisoners allege guards did not wear masks until April 25

Epstein pal arrested, accused of luring girls for sex abuse

Ghislaine Maxwell was in an intimate relationship with Epstein for years

B.C. repairs COVID-19 emergency order for local government

Ombudsperson shut out as his recommendations implemented

More than 50,000 Coronavirus cases reported per day in US

Coronavirus cases are rising in 40 of 50 US states

Trump plans huge July 4 fireworks show despite DC’s concerns

Despite health concerns from D.C.’s mayor, no one apparently will be required to wear masks

Canadian engineer detained in Egypt released, needs treatment, family says

Yasser Albaz was detained at the Cairo airport after a business trip in February of 2019

Reports of military member arrested after truck rammed gate near Trudeau residence

Officers descended on the sprawling estate Thursday morning.

Most Read

l -->