Friday, August 8, 2014

Irrigation

This was my view at dawn this morning. This is what irrigating looks like for us. 

I've been meaning to do a post about irrigation for some time now. Irrigation is a pretty complex topic and really needs a very long post and a ton of pictures. So I'm going to give you the quickest version I can, because if I try to do a long one it was stay as a draft for way too long.

We irrigate all of our crops using surface water. This means that the water we use for irrigation is collected above ground. In our case it is rainfall and some snowmelt (none this year) collected during the winter months. The water is collected in man made resviours. The resivours also have the benefit of  being lakes and providing recreational opportunities. 

This is different that using well water. We do not have any ag pumps or ag wells. Our water is coming from above ground rather than below. 

Our water is delivered using a system of canals or open ditches. As seen in this picture. The open ditches are not as efficient but this system is an oldie but goodie and would be very expensive to replace. We are currently working on a project to convert an open ditch to a pipeline on 20 acres. Just for the 20 acres that project will cost about $60,000. So upgrades happen slowly.

Our water project delivers water to most of our neighbors and thousands of acres of farmland in our area. The water is running most of the time and we essentially take turns using it. It is more complicated than that, but the gist of it. 

So, this means that you only can irrigate when the water is in your area. So last night the water arrived at 6 pm. If we had decided we would prefer to sleep then we would not have the opportunity to irrigate for about 2 weeks. Crops need water to grow so that meant I had a very long night of changing irrigation water. I made changes at 11pm, 2:30 and 4:30 am and then gave it to a neighbor at 6:00 am. 

We often have people confused about why we change water at night. But we don't have much of an option. It is just the way our system works. It frequently limits our sleep, social lives and general plans. But, that's farming.

I'll try and post again with more about irrigation. It is a very complex subject. 

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