Kootenay & Boundary Farm Advisors (KBFA) has released a 12-part video series for farmers on optimizing irrigation techniques as we head into warmer, drier months.
The KBFA has spent the past several weeks on area farms from Invermere to Grand Forks conducting field days focusing on various irrigation systems and techniques.
They filmed all the content so they could offer it for free, online, to everyone.
The series provides recommendations on how to optimize water use on farms while tackling climate change, says KBFA.
“As summers get hotter and drier, farmers in the Kootenay-Boundary region are stepping up efforts to fine-tune their irrigation systems to ensure their crops get the right amount of water, at the right time. , without wasting a drop,” KBFA said in a press release. “Irrigation is necessary for most agricultural production in the Kootenays, and farmers know the importance of stewardship and responsible water use to receive support from the wider community. .
March 1, 2022 marked the deadline for the province’s water permit system, requiring those who use groundwater to apply for a permit in order to secure their water rights. The province aims to monitor water use – who and how much water may be used, stored or diverted.
Now that the deadline has passed, the province requires non-domestic groundwater users to apply for a new water permit.
While this is a way for the province to monitor water use, KBFA encourages farmers to ensure they are using water effectively and efficiently in their systems.
KBFA explains that farmers should identify areas to improve their own irrigation systems to maximize water use and ensure crops receive the right amount of water.
“For a number of reasons, we are likely to have less and less water available to irrigate in the high season,” said Andrew Bennett, KBFA general counsel and irrigation designer. “It is very important to plan your crop water demand in advance to ensure that your system can meet the needs of your farm. Automating irrigation systems is also a way to make sure you don’t water too much or too little, and it saves valuable grower time, which is always in short supply.
He adds that farmers are finding new and innovative ways to use their irrigation systems more efficiently and sparingly. It’s important to do this, he says, as climate change continues to warm the province.
“Warmer and drier summers mean crops will also need more water to thrive, but that’s exactly when water levels will really drop as the hills stop feeding our rivers and our aquifers,” Bennett said.
Last year’s heatwave saw many farms struggle to keep their crops alive as temperatures hit record highs for nearly two weeks.
In KBFA’s first video, they visit farms whose experiences show how important it is “to enter the season with roots fully watered and to pay close attention to soil and weather conditions when irrigating. “, which can help when extreme temperatures occur.
Another video focuses on irrigation and drought resources for BC farmers. The KBFA says there is a wealth of knowledge available for free, including major designs, fact sheets, online maps and calculators.
The entire series is intended to provide resources for farms looking to not just make a change, but to “take charge,” says KBFA.
KBFA also offers free technical extension, resources and support to area farmers.