Press-Republican

Gast

July 13, 2014

Drip irrigation has many benefits

Obviously, plants will not survive without water. But, there’s a lot more to it than that. Without the proper amount, they will not thrive. Too little or too much will result in unhealthy development. If they don’t drown or die as a result of dehydration, they will become weak and prone to damage from pests and diseases.

Without a doubt, one of the most common causes of plant mortality is lack of water. Every year, first-time gardeners and enthusiastic homeowners spend considerable amounts of money on garden and landscape plants that soon die, either from not enough water or from inconsistent watering. Plants often require less in the spring when they are small and days are cool. But, their need increases quickly as temperatures rise and those plants come into bloom.

When plants receive the amount of water they require, fruit and vegetable quality can be greatly improved and yield can be increased. Unfortunately, a critical time for most vegetable plants is during July and August, the time when we often see extended periods of hot, dry weather or drought. Cultural practices, such as mulching and hand weeding, will help, but additional water will often be required. One method is irrigation.

The concepts of proper irrigation are the same ones that apply to any good watering program. One needs to know how often to water, how much water to use and how to apply that water. Good watering practices will provide suitable distribution, promote good soil permeation, assure sufficient retention and allow for the removal of excess water.

Overhead or sprinkler irrigation systems are commonly used to water gardens and landscapes. This method wets the entire soil surface, soaking plants and leaving them dripping wet. Water is often applied rapidly and in excess. For vegetables that are particularly prone to foliar diseases, tomatoes for example that are frequently at risk for septoria and early blight, splashing water may spread those disease organisms. And water on the leaves may further encourage disease development.

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