First things first:
Your irrigation practices will be dictated by the types of soil you use. Make sure you know the following about your soils:
- Crop and pasture suitability
- Crop frequency
- Capability for irrigation and drainage
- Potential for soil erosion
- Water holding capacity
- Infiltration rate/rate of application of water
We highly recommend you record this information for future reference. This is a lot of important data, and you should not rely on memory. You will likely need to update it as time goes on, so make sure you can make amendments to the document.
This information will be important to reference as you are building your irrigation best practices. It can also be helpful for licensing or permit applications, or if you ever decide to sell your land.
As you make changes to this document, note seasons and dates. Having a record of how your soil and pasture changes over time is beneficial in the long run.
Soil monitoring tools can help you track crop water usage and plan correct irrigation scheduling. Here are a few tools we recommend:
- Irrigation WA Smartphone App – Developed by the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA), this app lets you select multiple production features like soil type, crop variety, and irrigation type, to give you the best irrigation scheduling advice specific to your land. This no-cost tool is ideal for smaller farm and fields that don’t have the extra money to spend on commercial software;
- Plexus – This farm measurement system uses low maintenance, solar powered field stations to pull your data and deliver it to you via the cloud. If you want extremely accurate data on soil moisture tension, content, temperature, and EC, this is a great option; and
- Wildeye – This tool is similar to Plexus, and allows you to create a free demo account. It is not powered by solar power, however.
Preventing Soil Erosion
Soil erosion occurs when the structure of your soil degrades due to environmental factors like water and wind. When the top layer of soil is eroded, rills and gullies can occur, which makes the cultivation of paddocks impossible.
You can help prevent soil erosion by maintaining good pasture cover, and grassed waterways.
If you’re in need of a temporary solution, spread mulch with straw, bark, and compost around the problem areas. It acts like a shock absorber and prevents access water from destroying the soil’s structure. You can also use hay bales to slow water flow, if the soil erosion is occurring at the bottom of a hill.
For a longer-term solution, methodically place rocks and boulders around the areas you want to slow the flow of water. You can protect your soil from wind erosion by using sheets of geo-textile, nylon, or jut matting. These sheets of fabric prevent your soil from blowing away and are porous, so the soil can still receive water. Other long-term solutions include changes to your landscape, like creating contour swales, terraces, or sump pits.
Preventing Soil Compaction
Soil compaction – when soil particles are pressed together tightly, reducing air and pore space between the particles – occurs due to the soil not receiving enough water, and/or stress being applied, such as heavy machinery or animal feet. Soil compaction negatively effects root growth, which in turn can lead to stunted and drought-stressed plants.
Preventing soil compaction comes down to your infrastructure. You should avoid using oversized equipment, try to combine field operations, and minimising your tractor weight. This used to be a tall order to ask for smaller establishments – but since greenPRO has developed a line catered to smaller, non-industrial-sized farm and fields, preventing soil compaction has never been easier.
All greenPRO’s implements are designed to be towed behind an ATV, so you can rest assured you aren’t putting too much force on your soil. The 6-IN-1 Seeder has the ability to disc, plough, fertilise, seed, cover, and roll in one single operation, so you are combining 6 different manoeuvers, minimising weight and disruption on your soil. This implement was designed to be lightweight and compact, so it can also save you up to 63% in fuel costs.
The results are in – the 6-IN-1 Seeder reduces soil compaction by 6 times.