Check out our Buyers Guide for Irrigation Equipment.

July 20, 2017, Ontario - Grapes and apples are high-value crops that require adequate water to grow properly. low water conditions such as drought stress have a negative impact on grapes and apples, lowering yields and reducing fruit quality.

The Water Adaption Management and Quality Initiative project is using a suite of technology to determine soil moisture for grapes, apple and tender fruit and improve recording and monitoring of natural and artificial irrigation events to create best management practices and improve water conservation and efficiency while increasing yields. For more, check out the video above!
Drip irrigation systems have seen a lot of improvements since their invention in the mid 1960s. They are worth considering as a watering system, says Bruce Naka, an independent irrigation consultant who spoke to growers at the Pacific Agriculture Show in Abbotsford, B.C.
January 17, 2017, Edmonton, Alta – The HortSnacks-to-Go 2016-2017 Webinar Series continues on January 30, 2017, at 3 p.m. MT (5 p.m. ET).

“The webinar will feature Rebecca Shortt from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs,” says Dustin Morton, commercial horticulture specialist, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF). “An expert in irrigation management, Rebecca will discuss scheduling with drip irrigation and how to get the most bang for your buck from your irrigation system.”

There is no charge to attend the webinar. To register, call Dustin Morton at 780-679-1314 or via e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

For more information on the HortSnacks-to-Go Webinar Series, go to AF's horticulture homepage.

June 22, 2016, Vancouver, BC – Semios, a provider of real-time agricultural information for precision farming, is offering two years of free soil moisture monitoring for their customers to optimize irrigation efficiencies, improving crop quality and yield.

“Water shortages have been tough for farmers,” says Michael Gilbert, company CEO. “By fine-tuning irrigation to where and when it is most needed, farmers can protect their crops from drought conditions and time the irrigation sets throughout the season to enhance growing conditions.”

With more than 200 customers and 50,000-plus sensors reporting every 10 minutes, Semios is a leading precision platform and is committed to helping the industry with the challenges of drought.

“We know it will improve the farmer’s bottom line and conserve a vital, depleting resource in the process,” Gilbert says.

Current soil moisture monitors are costly and generally comprised of data loggers that require farmers to go into the field every one to two weeks to get historical data. Integrated into the Semios network, the soil moisture module includes time domain transmissometry (TDT) sensors that measure temperature (+/- 0.1 F), eletroconductivity (EC) and water content (+/- 1%). The sensor stations include water probes at depths of one and three feet. The data from the sensors is relayed wirelessly every 10 minutes through the Semios network to the grower’s computer and/or mobile phone through Semios applications. Combined with integrated weather forecasts, farmers can now react to current conditions and forecasts to ensure crops get the right amount of water where and when they need it most.

The Semios soil moisture module is part of a custom designed controller and sensor network that gives fruit and tree nut farmers remote access to conditions in the field 24/7. The soil moisture module conserves water and fertilizers by ensuring irrigation flows do not continue beyond the root zone and that crops do not suffer from a deficit of water. Other modules offered by Semios include pest management, chilling hours, frost management and disease control.

Semios will deliver, install and service the soil moisture solution demo stations to its customers for two years at no additional charge. Modules have video tutorials and Semios customer support is available 24/7.

January 21, 2016, Kemptville, Ont – Rebecca Shortt, OMAFRA water specialist, will be leading a drip irrigation workshop Feb. 2 from 9 a.m. to noon in the Kemptville area.

Shortt will take growers through a step-by-step process to optimize farm irrigation water use. By the end of the workshop session, growers will know:

  • Farm water requirements
  • Plant water requirements
  • Preferred irrigation scheduling tools and techniques
  • And will leave the workshop knowing how long to run their system and how to schedule for cooler days and various crop growth stages.

Improving system management can save producers money and conserve water.

Attendees are asked to bring a calculator and a pencil.

Pre-registration is required as space is limited. Interested people can confirm their spot by emailing Kevin Schooley at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or calling 613-258-4587.

Nov. 2, 2015, Ontario – Climate change is making Ontario’s farmers look carefully at water conservation and efficient use.

Agriculture is a significant water user in the province, and after experiencing drought-like growing conditions in 2012 and watching regions in the United States deal with severe water restrictions, Ontario agricultural researchers are working to find new cropping methods to use water as efficiently as possible.

In Ontario, crop irrigation systems are most commonly used on fruit and vegetable crops; fewer than 5,000 acres of field corn are currently irrigated.

However, irrigation is essential to producing maximum corn yields in parts of Ontario, leading researchers and irrigation experts to team up to find new ways to irrigate crops in a more water conscious and efficient manner.

The result is a new-to-Ontario below ground crop watering system, Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI).

Since 2013, University of Guelph Plant Agriculture professor Rene Van Acker has led a research team studying this low-pressure, high-efficiency irrigation method that uses buried polyethylene drip lines to bring water and nutrients to crops.

The team has been testing the system in corn fields, since corn requires more inputs like water and nutrients than other Ontario-grown field crops.

“Traditional crop irrigation methods are very labour intensive with inefficient water and energy use,” says John O’Sullivan, also a professor in the University of Guelph’s Plant Agriculture department and the on-site project manager of the SDI research.

O’Sullivan explains customary irrigation systems use aluminum pipes laid above ground and across fields, using overhead water sprinklers to deliver water to crops.

Mobile sprinklers are also popular, but use a lot of energy and of the irrigation water applied, as little as 50 per cent is actually used by the crop.

“SDI can deliver water with an efficiency of 95 per cent or higher and keep corn root zones closer to optimum soil moisture and maximize fertilizer utilization,” says O’Sullivan.

The team has proven SDI is the most efficient system with water savings of 25-50 per cent when compared to traditional overhead water irrigation.


Burying the SDI water lines instead of sprinkling water onto the crops immediately boosts water use efficiency by eliminating water evaporation from above ground sun and air exposure.

Unlike other drip irrigation systems where water lines lay flat on the ground surface, SDI drip tapes are buried 14” in the ground.

Doubling the efficiency of the new irrigation system, crop nutrients, or fertilizer, can also be added to the water pumping through the sub surface irrigation lines.

This allows farmers to deliver exact amounts of fertilizer to the crop throughout its growing stages. And since nutrients are applied right at the plant’s root level, very little is left unused, which reduces the chance of fertilizers leaching into the environment.


“It’s like spoon feeding our plants,” says Gary Csoff, technology development representative with Monsanto Canada Inc., who points out the ability to apply nutrients through the SDI system also maximizes the crop’s yield, quality and the farmer’s economic investment in costly crop nutrients.

“This new crop production technology will maximize productivity per acre while protecting our environment,” says O’Sullivan, adding that a one per cent adoption rate of SDI by Ontario farmers would generate an additional $10 million in farm gate sales through increased yields and more efficient nutrient management.

SDI research has been funded by Farm and Food Care Ontario’s Water Adaptation Management and Quality Initiative.

The research team has also been awarded funding through the University of Guelph’s Gryphon’s LAAIR (Leading to Accelerated Adoption of Innovative Research) program to continue testing and conducting demonstrations to farmers interested in adopting this new technology. The Gryphon’s LAAIR is supported through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

“This is an out of the box approach to irrigation that has stimulated a lot of thought and discussion,” says Csoff.

The SDI research team also received input support from Peter White, Irrigation Research Associate at Simcoe Research Station, Todd Boughner of Judge Farms in Simcoe, and Vanden Bussche Irrigation of Delhi.



September 22, 2015, Gainesville, FL – Sanjay Shukla looked out over row upon row of tomato and pepper plants and had an idea: What would happen if he made the compacted soil rows taller and more narrow? Would the plants need less water, fertilizer and fumigation? Would the plants grow as tall? Would the plants produce as many vegetables?

And so, instead of planting rows that were normally six to eight inches high and about three feet across, the University of Florida professor planted them 10 inches to a foot high and 1.5 to two feet across. Instead of needing two drip lines to irrigate each row, they required only one. In addition, they needed fewer square feet in plastic mulch covering. He calls it “compact bed geometry” or “hilling.”

Shukla, who specializes in agricultural and biological engineering, was astounded by the answers.

Not only did the tall narrow rows grow the same amount of vegetables, they retained more fertilizers – reducing what would have leached into groundwater – and they would need half the amount of water. In addition, he cut fumigation rates for pests by as much as 50 per cent.

He estimates the revamped rows could save farmers $100 to $300 an acre, depending on the crop, the setup of their farm and how many drip lines they use per row; with a 1,000-acre farm, that can add up to a $300,000 savings. If used statewide, the potential cost savings for vegetable growers who use plastic mulch, could run into millions per crop per year.

“I’m looking at a business solution – you do this, you save money,” said Shukla, whose primary interest is water quality and supply issues. His location at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Science’s Research and Education Center in Immokalee puts him at the northern edge of one of the most delicately balanced environments in the world – the Everglades. “And oh, by the way, it’s better for the environment.”

By using less water and plastic, he explained, fields will be less flooded and, thus, water contaminated with fertilizer is not being discharged into nearby lakes, streams and rivers.

Several farms have already adopted Shukla’s tall, narrow rows, including a 2,000-acre tomato farm. Chuck Obern, who grows eggplants and peppers at C&B Farms in Clewiston, has switched 140 acres of eggplants and estimates he has saved at least $500 an acre on the cost of drip tape for irrigation, fumigation, and the pumping of water and fertilizer.

“His experiment was in a production field and they were side by side with our crops,” Obern said. “His experiment used half the water and half the fertilizer as our crop, yet you couldn’t see any difference. It told us we were wasting half our water and fertilizer.”

Obern said he is excited to see what Shukla can do for his pepper crop in the fall.

Shukla’s discovery is vital, as Florida is already struggling to provide enough water for an ever-increasing population. The state has seen a 32 per cent increase in population since 2005 and, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the state will likely not be able to meet the demands for water – 31 million cubic meters per day – by the year 2030.

Shukla says his next step is to explore if the compact bed geometry will work elsewhere. If it does, it has the potential to help improve agriculture globally.

“I’m hoping to go to California and Georgia to learn about their production systems and see what can be done at a larger scale,” he said.


Popular across many U.S. states with both field crop and horticulture crop farmers, controlled drainage (CD) is making inroads in Ontario.

Now, a joint study on these innovative systems, being led by Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (AAFC) and McGill University researchers, is aiming to make Canadian horticulture crop growers and well as drainage contractors more familiar with the technology – and therefore more willing to adopt it and its benefits.

Put simply, controlled drainage delivers advantages for farmers and the environment that standard drainage cannot offer. Let’s take a look at how it works. Each controlled drain, placed just before the outlet, consists of a plastic tube 45 cm wide and almost two metres long, integrated with the existing drainage tile. Inside each tube are vertical plastic panels that can be pulled up to let the water flow freely or pushed downward to stop it. The system is meant to be left open in the spring and fall to help drain the field and closed during the summer to retain water from rainstorms (along with the valuable nutrients in that water). Most years, that should have a positive effect on crop yield. However, CD systems only work well on flat topography. With fields that aren’t flat, more controlled drain structures are required to control water flow and having structures located in the field itself (instead of just at the edge) make tasks such as planting and harvesting quite difficult.

The three-year McGill-AAFC study, currently underway in Ontario’s Holland Marsh area, aims to increase the adoption of CD by broadening its applicability.

“CD has primarily been examined in continuous and corn-soybean production systems because these systems generally cover the majority of acres across Eastern Canada,” explains AAFC Senior Water Management Engineer Andrew Jamieson. “While horticultural production covers fewer acres, it’s often located in areas that have good potential for the installation and success of CD – flat land and medium-to-coarse textured soils.”

Jamieson adds that since horticulture crops have higher nitrogen and phosphorus requirements than field crops, they present a greater opportunity for CD to decrease nutrient loss through runoff. It’s estimated that about 80 to 90 per cent of the phosphorous and nitrogen in a field crop field will stay put with controlled drainage compared to what would have been lost into the watershed with conventional drainage tile systems.

“There is also greater potential for profitability with CD use in the hort sector due to the higher value of the crops,” Jamieson notes. “Research has shown that the yield bump from CD systems doesn’t happen every year (for example, in wet years), so we need a better grasp on how often will a producer see the yield bump and how a grower can manage a CD system to optimize yields.”

The CD structures cost approximately $700 apiece plus installation, and when a farmer could expect to break even depends on yearly crop yields and prices, weather patterns, snow melt, soil type and so on.

Jamieson notes the overall goal of the study – which he is co-leading with McGill’s Dr. Chandra Madramootoo – is to address a number of adoption barriers that have been identified by both producers and tile drain contractors. This same goal also applies to a study of CD in field crops near Lucan, Ont., being spearheaded by AAFC and the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority.

“We have reams of research results confirming the environmental benefits of CD,” Jamieson says. “But what we hope to accomplish with these projects is a better understanding of how CD works at a farm level and the challenges of managing such a system from producer’s point of view.”

For example, producers need have best management practices on when the water table should be raised, or how long in a wet year the field be left to drain.

Tile drainage contractors have also asked AAFC for guidelines and standards for the installation of CD systems, and Jamieson hopes these studies can provide a foundation for that.

“The contractor is the first point of contact for producers regarding drainage on their farm and if we don’t resolve the contractors concerns with CD, then the adoption of CD will remain slow,” he explains.

One concern stems from the fact that CD systems are known to be more effective with newer tile drainage systems as they feature more pipes in the ground. More pipes with less space between them means a more uniform water table in the field can be achieved with the new drainage systems.

The study is taking place in organic soil as it has been identified by researchers as having good potential for CD. The controlled drains were installed during the fall of 2014 at two sites in the Holland Marsh. The first site is 0.62 hectares under organic carrot production. The second site is just more than four hectares being used for organic celery and onion production. A third site with conventional tile drains (organic onion production) will serve as the study control.

“The fields have been instrumented to sample tile runoff and measure tile flow all year round,” Jamieson says. “We’re using two different methods for that – in case one fails, and also to get a sense of which method costs less. During the growing season, the fields will also be equipped with water table and soil moisture monitoring. We should be able to get a good sense of how CD can be used to maintain a fairly constant water table depth.”

Jamieson notes that while some of the results will not be applicable to non-organic production, others definitely will. On the one hand, results on things like nutrient loading impact or ability of the system to maintain a consistent water table will be difficult to directly translate because organic (muck) soil is inherently different.

“However, there will be takeaways about the challenge of managing a CD system with a traditional irrigation system, which are applicable to many horticultural production systems.”

Study of controlled drains has been going on for more than two decades at the AAFC research station in Harrow, and has included an evaluation of the annual impact of CD on nutrient loading from tile and surface runoff on a plot scale, but Jamieson notes that CD research in Canada has generally had an overall focus on its function and effects only during the growing season. A look at the entire year is more valuable as it provides the entire picture, and that’s why Jamieson and his colleagues are taking on the challenge of monitoring over the winter months, attempting to study the annual impacts of CD on a field scale.

“Some recent research results out of Ohio where CD was used in fields after harvest until the spring time show a 40 to 70 per cent reduction in dissolved phosphorus loads,” Jamieson says. “We are looking forward to seeing what conclusions we can draw from our year-round study.”

The next step after this study is complete, says Jamieson, would be to examine the potential of CD and/or sub-irrigation (SI) on additional horticultural crops.

“As well, we should examine the benefits of retrofitting an existing tile system to CD or installing a new CD system for the purposes of reducing the need for irrigation,” he explains. “This would involve a cost-benefit analysis along with examining the differences in time management between CD and/or SI and traditional irrigation methods.”




November 21, 2013 – Broken pipes from freeze damage and electrical equipment failure are results of poor winter preparation of irrigation equipment. Spending time now on your irrigation equipment can help avoid irrigation start up repairs and delays next spring.

Irrigation risers from underground lines often cost $200-$300. Z pipes, pivot elbows and center pipe can cost the farm more than $600 each and all are common irrigation freeze damage repairs. Often next year’s irrigation startup problems are winter damage that can be prevented. Time spent now will prevent damage and lead to a better start on next year’s irrigation season. Inspection of the system now allows you to make improvements and repairs in the less costly offseason and get irrigation problems out of the way for spring planting season when everyone is busy. Steel pipes up in the air may freeze solid days before we think of freezing weather on the ground. READ MORE

Crop growers, wine grape and other fruit growers, and food processors all benefit from water sensors for accurate, steady and numerous moisture readings. But current sensors are large, may cost thousands of dollars and often must be read manually.

Now, Cornell University researchers have developed a microfluidic water sensor within a fingertip-sized silicon chip that is a hundred times more sensitive than current devices. The researchers are now completing soil tests and will soon test their design in plants, embedding their “lab on a chip” in the stems of grapevines, for example. They hope to mass produce the sensors for as little as $5 each.

In soil or when inserted into a plant stem, the chip is fitted with wires that can be hooked up to a card for wireless data transmission or is compatible with existing data-loggers. Chips may be left in place for years, though they may break in freezing temperatures. Such inexpensive and accurate sensors can be strategically spaced in plants and soil for accurate measurements in agricultural fields.

For example, sophisticated vintners use precise irrigation to put regulated water stress on grapevines to create just the right grape composition for a premium cabernet or a chardonnay wine. While growers can use the sensors to monitor water in soils for their crops, civil engineers can embed these chips in concrete to determine optimal moisture levels as the concrete cures.

“One of our goals is to try and develop something that is not only a great improvement, but also much cheaper for growers and others to use,” said Alan Lakso, professor of horticulture, who has been working on water sensing for 20 years.

The sensors make use of microfluidic technology – developed by Abraham Stroock, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering – that places a tiny cavity inside the chip. The cavity is filled with water, and then the chip may be inserted in a plant stem or in the soil where through a nanoporous membrane it exchanges moisture with its environment and maintains an equilibrium pressure that the chip measures.

Using chips embedded in plants or spaced across soil and linked wirelessly to computers, for example, growers may “control the precise moisture of blocks of land, based on target goals,” said Vinay Pagay, who helped develop the chip as a doctoral student in Lakso’s lab.

Ernest and Julio Gallo Winery and Welch’s juice company have already expressed interest in the sensors.

The researchers seek to understand how values gathered from sensors inside a plant and in soils relate to plant growth and function, so that growers can translate sensor values and optimize management.

August 6, 2013, Hastings, FL – The recent introduction of sub-surface irrigation may well preserve the future of Florida farming by protecting Florida’s aquifer.

Danny Johns, owner of Blue Sky Farms, whose family has farmed in Hastings for generations, cultivates 680 acres of 23 different kinds of potatoes at his efficient farmstead off County Road 13 and believes this type of irrigation could be the coming thing. READ MORE
May 23, 2013 – Maximum economic yield with minimum amount of irrigation is a goal for most irrigators. Efficient irrigation water use means providing enough water to avoid drought stress, but not so much that water is lost out of the rooting zone or to runoff from the surface. This includes leaving enough water holding capacity to capture the next normal rainfall thus not losing the value of rainfall.

Early in the season our irrigation goals are often focused on germinating seed and incorporating fertilizers or soil-applied herbicides. In a normal year, May and early June often receive adequate rainfall to meet the needs of the developing crops and plant roots will grow into moisture that is stored deeper in the soil profile. Chances of receiving additional rainfall in the near future are rather good, so irrigation applications are kept to a minimum with the hope that nature will be providing more water soon. Rooting depth is not fully established at this point, increasing the potential of overfilling the soils water holding capacity in the rooting zone, which makes small applications of irrigation water ideal.

The irrigated sandy loam soils of northern Indiana and southern Michigan require about half an inch of irrigation to wet the soil profile down five to six inches. A single half-inch application is often enough to germinate seed, assist in emergence (alleviate crusting) and incorporate fertilizers and soil-applied herbicides. Heavier loam soils may need 0.7 inch to one inch of water to wet the top six inches of soil to accomplish these tasks.

By mid-June the crop is near its full rooting depth, increasing the effective water holding capacity and lowering the potential of loss below the roots. At the same time, the potential for rainfall decreases and crop water use increases, allowing producers to increase their application volume to the 0.75-inch per application range. Typical crop water use would be 0.15 inches per day, making one 0.75-inch application last about five days.

By late June, corn and many other crops near peak water use stages of development. As July nears, irrigation goals need to switch to maximizing water to the root zone. Potential to loose water below the root zone lessens with higher crop water use and less chance of potential rainfall meeting crop needs. Transpiration is more effective use of water than evaporation from soil or leaf surface, providing an opportunity for irrigators to maximize effective water use by minimizing the time they wet the plant leaf and soil surface. Limiting the number of time the foliage is wetted also reduce the potential for many foliar crop diseases.

Coming into this period, irrigators may want to concentrate on closing in on the soil capacity by nearly filling the rooting profile to capacity, leaving just enough room for predicted rainfall. This is especially true for producers close to or short on irrigation water capacity. Short on capacity could be defined as not having the ability to meet daily water removal, 0.25 inches per day or five gallon per minute pump capacity, for every irrigated acre served by the water supply.

In the summer of 2012, daily crop water use (E.T.) for many crops exceeded 0.30 inches per day for several days in early July. Maintaining an adequate reserve of soil moisture is a good insurance policy to help plants manage stress during periods of high temperature. To build in a reserve for extended periods of drought, downtime for repairs, or periods of extreme temperatures and wind, irrigation goals during the peak water use period should be to maintain moisture levels high with enough room to capture a one-inch rainfall.

According to Michigan State University Extension, if a producer’s irrigation capacity is low, this means that the grower should be starting to irrigate prior to peak use or during rainy spells to build moisture level. Many irrigators started too late and could never regain good soil moisture level during the drought of 2012. If you have the capacity to provide one inch every three days, you can afford to gamble on receiving rainfall. For most producers, starting late can lead to poor irrigated yields.

At times of peak water use, the application volume could be as large as 1.5 inches for four to five days of water use. It is all about efficiency. The plant most effectively uses water is through transpiration. Water that is lost from evaporation at the soil surface or on the leaves is less beneficial to the plant, providing only a temporarily cooler environment. Small application may help in evaporative cooling during pollination or other crucial times, but reduces the amount of water that actually gets to the roots compared to fewer large applications totaling the same amount.

Compare two irrigators using the same total amount of irrigation water in a season: One irrigator makes five one-inch applications during the peak water use period compared to another producer making 10 half-inch applications. Assuming that there is about 0.10 inches of evaporation loss from the soil surface and foliage, the irrigator making five one-inch applications will get 0.5 inches more water into the root zone.

In some situations, irrigators have equipment that applies water faster than the water can infiltrate into the soil. In these situations, smaller application volumes will reduce the potential for runoff or uneven application to the roots. In some situations, irrigators will say application greater than 0.30 inches or 0.40 inches seems to runoff. In these situations, reducing application volumes to prevent runoff is more important than potential evaporation losses until they upgrade sprinklers. Sprinklers that provide larger wetted diameters will have less runoff issues. Matching sprinkler performance to field/soil conditions and leaving more crop residue on the soil surface are two methods to reduce potential runoff without increasing evaporative loss from increased number of applications.

Late season applications are reduced down as crop water use declines with increasing crop maturity. At the dent stage of development, corn water use can be as little as 0.15 inches per day on a 75 F day. The chance of receiving rainfall increases dramatically during this portion of the growing season. Applications of 0.75 inches at the beginning of this period may quickly decline to 0.50 inch as the crop nears black layer or maturity.

Crop water use estimates can assist producers in irrigation decision-making. A good source of E.T. rate charts for the most commonly irrigated crops is Irrigation Scheduling Checkbook Method from the University of Minnesota. Additional irrigation scheduling information can be found at the MSU irrigation website.

February 25, 2013 – The dry conditions experienced in 2012 point out how critical irrigation is in reducing risk when producing high value vegetables.

Even with dry conditions, growers were surprised at how much disease they encountered. Improper irrigation can create situations conducive for disease development, but a little fore thought can go a long way and allow you to provide water while minimizing disease-promoting conditions.

Many soil borne diseases rely on wet conditions for development, transmission and movement. Conditions promoting soil diseases can occur with improper irrigation. Rapid water application to clay-based soils leads to water runoff and disease movement within and possibly between fields. Clay soils should be irrigated slowly and for long periods to allow water to penetrate and for soil to adequately absorb moisture throughout the root zone.

Many raised-bed, plastic mulched, drip irrigated vegetable plantings are placed in sand-based soils. The high sand allows for easier shaping, but is prone to leaching. Irrigation on these soils needs to be done in frequent, quick applications, perhaps more than once a day. Long periods of free water contribute to disease development and it doesn’t take much water in these soils to reach field capacity and create favorable conditions. Growers with these soils often over-irrigate, contributing to nutrient leaching and disease development and spread. In sand, water can move down to soil depths of 20 inches in an hour; irrigating longer than this is unnecessary since it would be pushing water out of the root zone and adding free water.

Proper timing of overhead irrigation is important for keeping diseases in check. Many fungal diseases require eight to 14 hours of a continual wet period for spore germination. If plants are irrigated in the evening, they will stay wet long enough to meet these requirements. Growers need to avoid evening irrigations and should apply overhead water early in the morning when plants are already wet from morning dew.

Drip irrigation is always preferable to overhead simply because drip does not wet leaves and it can be operated at any time. However, some crops such as corn, beans, carrots and others do not lend themselves well to drip. Organic soils are also overhead irrigated since the entire surface needs to be kept wet to limit soil movement.


Jan. 7, 2013, Guelph, ON - The governments of Canada and Ontario are making a joint investment to help producers adopt innovative and sustainable on-farm water management practices. Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ted McMeekin have announced a new initiative that will focus on finding innovative technologies and solutions to water conservation and water use efficiency problems for Ontario farmers.

"This Economic Action Plan investment will help Ontario farmers make better use of available water supplies and irrigation systems, and ultimately lower their costs,," said Minister Ritz.

"Managing water more effectively is an important part of mitigating and adapting to climate change and the extreme weather it brings," added Minister McMeekin.

This joint Canada-Ontario investment of up to $1.5 million will go toward the Water Resource Adaptation and Management Initiative. Up to $1 million will be available for projects through Farm & Food Care Ontario on behalf of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Applications are now available on the Farm & Food Care Ontario website ( The balance of the funding will be used to draft guidelines for drainage design, benchmarking studies on water use/water efficiency, and informing farmers about best management practices on water efficiency.

The call for proposals will include the following two components:

  • Projects or research studies on innovative water conservation and efficiency equipment, technologies, and practices. These projects could include the use of innovative equipment for irrigation, recommendations for water conservation in livestock operations, good soil management practices, and developing drought-tolerant crops; and
  • The communication of project results through workshops, presentations, outreach, and education materials designed to highlight technologies related to water conservation.

"Farm & Food Care Ontario is pleased to be involved in this environmental initiative on behalf of our members. This initiative will provide practical examples of water conservation technologies that can help farmers adopt their water use practices to the impacts of climate change. Given that 2012 was a dry year across most of the province, this project has even greater relevance to Ontario farmers," said John Maaskant, Chair, Farm & Food Care Ontario.

September 7, 2012 – John Deere Water recently announced the availability of the John Deere F Series Metal Filters to North American customers.

The F Series Metal Filters include the F1000, F3200, F3300 and F3400 models. Each model has features to meet the irrigation needs of grower customers in diverse crop production and green industry markets.

All John Deere Metal Filters with hydraulic parallel automatic suction type screens use a continuous linear movement (CLM) mechanism, which eliminates the need for pistons to change cleaning direction. The metal filters have large sintered screens that provide a larger filtration area and four layers of screen strength. Self-adjusting nozzles and brushes are standard on all John Deere automatic electric suction screen and brush filters for maximum cleaning effectiveness.

For more information on John Deere F Series Metal Filters, visit

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