Drought, limited irrigation and deficient soil moisture are leading factors that can adversely affect crop yield. Management practices that conserve water may carry a crop through a short duration drought event, maintain soil moisture, reduce production costs and help maintain plant health. The following are important water conservation strategies to conserve soil moisture.
- Residue management: Maintaining surface residue through conservation tillage practices helps reduce moisture loss by evaporation and runoff. Surface residue (especially standing residue) increases snow catch during winter storms. Surface residue also helps reduce the impact of rainfall and irrigation, thereby preserving soil structure infiltration rates.
- Adding organic matter: Organic matter improves soil structure and quality. It improves water holding capacity in sandy soil, may improve drainage, and reduces waterlogging in clay soil. Two common sources of organic matter include:
- Manure: Manure is not only an important source of organic matter but also adds nutrients to the soil.
- Cover Crops: Cover crops add organic matter to the soil through decomposing vegetative matter, increase soil pores from decaying roots, reduce soil erosion, help break up soil compaction and can help reduce weed growth.
- Terraces: Terraces are constructed across a slope to slow water runoff. They conserve water and help reduce soil erosion.
- Weed management: Weeds use and deplete soil moisture (and nutrients). Two- and three-pass herbicide programs (out-of-season, pre-plant, and post-emerge programs) can minimize moisture loss by eliminating or reducing weed pressure
- Drip irrigation: Drip irrigation delivers water directly to plant roots and reduces water loss from evaporation.
- Irrigation scheduling: Farmers can utilize moisture probes, monitor weather forecasts, and utilize evapotranspiration (ET) rates to adapt their irrigation schedule to current environmental conditions and needs of the plant.
- Low Energy Precise Application (LEPA) nozzles: LEPA systems deliver water a few inches above the ground to reduce wind drift and prevent evaporation loss.
Water conservation is essential to preserve and conserve a dwindling resource important for crop production. Incorporating water conservation strategies can help conserve water, reduce production costs, and help meet or exceed yield goals.
Performance may vary, from location to location and from year to year, as local growing, soil and weather conditions may vary. Growers should evaluate data from multiple locations and years whenever possible and should consider the impacts of these conditions on the grower’s fields. ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW GRAIN MARKETING AND ALL OTHER STEWARDSHIP PRACTICES AND PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Channel® and the Arrow Design® and Seedsmanship At Work® are registered trademarks of Channel Bio, LLC. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. ©2020 Bayer Group. All rights reserved.