Good farmers all know the importance of soil testing to pinpoint deficiencies and formulate a proper fertilization routine, but too many still overlook the equal importance of water testing. Testing the water used for irrigating the fields can reveal the surprising cause of stunted plant growth or poor historical performance. If your soil tests show your fields are good but you're still struggling to produce worthwhile crops, invest in water testing to discover if one of these five issues are affecting your business.
Even if you're far from a coastline or sea inlet, your irrigation water supply can end up with a shockingly high salinity level due to salts from fertilizers and other chemical sources. Plants struggle to absorb moisture when water is too high in sodium chloride because of changes in the electrical conductivity of the liquid. Irrigating with salty water also leaves the soil saturated with salt, which interferes with the uptake of crucial plant nutrients for years or decades to come.
The pH balance of irrigation water has a big effect on how well your crops can absorb the nutrients they need to grow. Alkaline water, with a high pH level above 7.0, makes it hard for the roots to complete the exchange process that lets them absorb nutrients. Acidic water with a pH measurement below the desired level of 6.0 causes plants to absorb nutrients too easily, creating toxicity issues instead.
By discovering the exact pH level of your irrigation water supply, you can figure out if sulfuric acid or sodium bicarbonate needs to be added to the system to balance it out. In order to change the balance effectively, you also need testing todetermine the alkalinity of the water. This is different from the alkaline level of a liquid and instead shows how much the water resists changes in pH due to the amount of dissolved minerals.
Plants rely on bacteria and fungi to help them process and absorb nutrients. Unfortunately, some water-borne bacteria cause problems for crops instead of assisting their growth. Watering food plants with water contaminated with E. coli bacteria could lead to illnesses in the consumers eating the lettuce or tomatoes, especially if you use overhead irrigation that splashes the liquid on the leaves and fruits.
Aside from pathogens that put humans at risk, irrigation water is often full of tiny threats to the plants themselves. Many fungal, viral, and bacterial infections that kill roots or rot leaves arrive through contaminated water supplies. Soil nematodes are also easily spread this way, making testing crucial to prevent your fields from picking up infestations that can take years to kill.
Dissolved forms of lead, zinc, and other heavy metals pose hazards to the animals and people eating the crops. Your plants absorb these materials and concentrate them in the leaves, seeds, and fruits they produce. Even if the metal levels are low enough not to interfere with healthy plant growth, you can still end up with a lawsuit if your crops cause health problems after being consumed.
Aside from common salt, other ionic compounds can show up in concentrations high enough to disrupt the electrical exchange necessary for absorbing water. High levels of chloride and boron lead to burnt leaf edges. Excessive nitrogen in irrigation water over-fertilizes and causes the plants to waste all their energy on unnecessary leaf and stalk growth.
Knowing what's lurking in your irrigation water can help you decide what type of treatment system you need for better crop results. A desalination filter or a weekly disinfection treatment from a company like Valley Pump Inc could dramatically improve your crop results next season. For best results, test a new water supply before using it to avoid long-lasting soil contamination issues.
Do you desperately desire to remodel your kitchen? Before you can begin this worthwhile task, you’ll need to secure a reputable contractor in your area. Inform this professional of your specific wants and needs for your space. For instance, you might wish to remove the wall separating your kitchen from your living room. Your contractor can determine if this wall is a load bearing one. You may also want to move the sink in your kitchen from one location to another one. On this blog, I hope you will discover valuable tips to help you design the kitchen of your dreams. Enjoy!