Tuesday 30 October 2018

Irrigation Evaluations (aka Bucket Testing) - Including tips for testing VRI systems

Spring is here but we are seeing all four seasons rolled into one some weeks which is not an anomaly. The soil moisture levels in our region have had a healthy boost in the last few days but if the media reports are true we may be in for a dry summer - please don't shoot the messenger, I'm only relaying what I have heard.

Should this transpire then that is even more reason to ensure that our irrigation systems are applying water as efficiently as possible so that we are maximising the amount of water applied that is available for plants to grow. An irrigation evaluation is a way to assess the efficiency and distribution uniformity of your irrigation system to ensure it is performing as expected.

An irrigation evaluation will help identify causes of any poor performance and (sometimes with the assistance of a qualified professional) show how these can be resolved. Increasing irrigation effectiveness and efficiency will allow you to grow more for less.

An irrigation evaluation (often referred to as a bucket test) is simple enough to carry out yourself, there are several good guides freely available to walk you through this process. For more information check out:

IrrigationNZ - Bucket Testing Resources
DairyNZ - Irrigation Evaluation Guide

The guides recommended above will walk you through how to carry out a standard bucket test however before you begin you need to consider any additional technologies that enhance your irrigation system. For instance if your system has variable rate irrigation (VRI) technology then you will need to take this into account when planning your bucket test. Lindsay NZ, the developers of the Growsmart Precision VRI system, have created a step-by-step guide that explain these additional considerations in more detail.

Growsmart Precision VRI - Bucket Testing Tip Card

If you are not in favour of the DIY irrigation evaluation option then consider contacting an accredited evaluator, this would also be recommended if your own test identifies potential issues that warrant further investigation. If you have additional technology such as a VRI system then ensure that whoever is carrying out the test is aware of this and that they carry out the recommended additional steps. If you need further help then contact your irrigation dealer, many dealers also have accredited evaluators on hand.

Irrigation system checks and maintenance should be undertaken at scheduled times over the irrigation season (the more hours your irrigator runs for the more regularly these checks should be carried out). Recommended irrigation system maintenance will be covered in more detail in the next H2Grow blog post, this will include a checklist that you can download and print off to help you with this task.

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Today's blog was written by Sarah Elliot from Lindsay NZ - I hope you have found it useful!