Agriculture & Irrigation Industry

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Agricultural Irrigation and Water Use

Agricultural Water Storage tanks – Agricultural  irrigation has gone through changes and innovations over the past one and quarter centuries. What started out as merely hand-dug ditches to crops has now become more efficient. Today, irrigation no longer requires a nearby stream or lake for water.  

The number of irrigated acres of crops is continually changing in the United States. The reasons for this are due to changing crop patterns and more efficient water application technology.

How agriculture is irrigated

Agricultural Water Storage Tanks – There are various methods to apply irrigation to crops. The broadest categories are gravity-fed and pressurized systems. Gravity-fed relies on gravity for the water to run down ditches. Today’s ditches are an improvement over the ditches of a hundred years ago. The ditches used in gravity fed today to keep water from soaking into the ground along the ditch. Using liners that keep the water in the ditch until it hits the crop then seeps down through the ground to the roots of the plant. 

Pressurized systems use pipes or tubing with the pressure that pushes water through directly to crops. This type of system uses a pump to apply the pressure. It will flow a little more quickly to the crop area than just gravity.

One new way of irrigation uses less water. That is drip irrigation. It allows water directly to the roots of the plant. That means the plant gets the water it needs sooner. Spraying applies water to the top of the plant and has to seep into the roots underground.  Spraying loses water as it seeps through the ground that could be used for other plants.

Where is the irrigation water supply

Where is the water supply that feeds irrigation? Most come from surface and groundwater. This is managed by local irrigation administrations. The administrations for irrigation run water storage and transportation systems to send water to irrigated farms. These administrations help manage ground source water.

Another source of water for irrigation is rainwater harvesting.

Why is irrigation so important? It is vital for food production and security. Without water, crops won’t grow and livestock will not survive. That means that millions of people will not have food.

Due to population increases, changes in urbanization, and climate water resources are going to have stronger competition. Farms are expected to increase production by approximately 70% by 2050 to keep up with population growth.

What crops use irrigation?

What crops use agricultural water storage tanks for irrigation? Fruits and vegetables require more irrigation water than livestock. One of the reasons irrigation of crops requires more water than livestock is because once the crop is watered the rest soaks into the ground. You may think to take it back out of the ground where you irrigated. But, you can’t do that without disturbing the crops. Besides what little you might get would not make much of a difference.

Irrigation provides the same amount of water each day to the plants which allows them to grow. Obviously if the farmer has enough rain then irrigation is not needed that day. However, weather changes of late have seen more droughts than in prior years.

Just to give you an idea of the amount of water used for crops in irrigation let’s look at a few crops. These gallons are based on one pound of produce.

  • Rice requires 650 gallons per pound
  • Wheat 130 gallons are needed per pound
  • Soybeans require 240 gallons
  • Sugar will need 400 gallons
  • Coffee requires 2,500 gallons per pound

As you can see that is a lot of water when you think of the thousands of pounds of each grown in a year. For instance, global coffee production is around 163.7 million 60-kilogram bags. Soybeans harvest was 673 million pounds in the USA in 2019.

It is not just the standard food we eat that is irrigated. Grapes in vineyards, nut trees like almonds and other edible fruits and nuts are also irrigated.

Water for livestock

Livestock like humans require water to survive. For female stock that are pregnant or nursing young like humans require a little more water each day than the males. Livestock includes not only the various animals but the processes needed for sanitation, cooling, cleaning, and animal waste disposal.

While the number of gallons of water used on livestock is less than crops it is still a large amount. Yet, it is vital to the health of humans and security of our food.

Should we be concerned about irrigation water safety

Yes, we should all be concerned about irrigation water. Contaminated water can affect crops and livestock causing disease that makes humans ill when they ingest it.

How does irrigation water become contaminated? Normally it is from poor planning of industrial sites, animal farms, barnyards, and feedlots.

Humans who consume produce or livestock that has been watered with poor water can cause disease in humans. Diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure, and more can come from poor-quality food sources.

Clean water for irrigation is essential to human health.

How can farmers help improve irrigation practices

There are several ways farmers can help save water, keep it clean from contamination, and improve irrigation.

First, the drip method of irrigation will save 80% more water than the standard spray irrigation.

Second, farmers can create ponds and reservoirs for their farms. Taking water for irrigation from those sources on their property instead of the watershed can help save water.

Third, rainwater harvesting using tanks is another excellent way to save water. It helps supplement the irrigation water that is needed.

Steel tanks can be used for rainwater harvesting. This water can be used for several different processes by using different liners. For example, rainwater can be used as a source of irrigation for plants and livestock. It can also be used for the removal of animal waste or fire prevention protection.

Steel tanks can be purchased in various capacities. You can place them around the property where needed for irrigation, fire prevention, or cleaning of waste products. These tanks can also hold fertilizers and other chemicals needed to protect and grow crops. With filtering the water can be made drinkable.

Steel Core Tanks are manufactured in the US. They come in various capacities and can be set up for various processes. All the tanks are made above industry standards with thicker steel and better liners.

Between tanks for rainwater harvesting, fuel, fertilizer, and chemical storage, you can help protect your crops and livestock. Protecting them from contaminated water and save watershed water.  These tanks can also be used in storing milk, juice from vineyards or orchards to go to the next process in wine making or juice making.

Potable water in tanks can be the answer to natural disasters and drought. As we said; with filtering this water can be drinkable water. With the increase in population, changing weather patterns, and more, farmers aren’t the only ones who can benefit from tanks for rainwater harvesting.