One of the more complicated concepts involved in the programming of farm irrigation systems is evapotranspiration and how it affects irrigation amounts.
It is a variable that affects irrigation system management in many ways, so must be understood to make accurate irrigation calculations.
Correctly measured, regularly monitoring evapotranspiration will improve crop yield and prevent plant loss, all while using the least amount of water necessary to do so.
What is Evapotranspiration?
Evapotranspiration or ET is a combination of two natural processes: evaporation and transpiration.
Evaporation is the process of water leaving the soil and plant surfaces to be absorbed into the air while transpiration is the process of plants losing water through their stomata into the air.
Since these are basically the same effect happening in two different ways, they are calculated as evapotranspiration or the amount of water absorbed into the atmosphere from plants and soil.
It is a key factor in many crop and soil management details such as plant growth and physiology, hydrologic cycle, microclimate and surface interactions, drainage, and all relationships between the soil, plants, water, and the atmosphere.
Why Is Calculating Evapotranspiration So Important?
When programming farm irrigation systems, every drop of water, and whether it actually reaches the plant roots, counts.
Since evapotranspiration constitutes a certain amount of water that does not reach the roots and is instead lost back to the atmosphere, this loss must be carefully estimated and then configured into the irrigation system programming.
ET can be measured using some of the more advanced irrigation system technology that track weather, soil, and atmospheric conditions.
Doing so is one of the ways that farmers today can reduce plant loss due to not enough irrigation while also reducing water wastage due to over-irrigating.
The Value of Programmable Farm Irrigation Systems
A critical part of effective crop management for getting the highest yield is making sure plants get the water they need, day in and day out, regardless of the weather.
Programming farm irrigation systems so they are used most efficiently is complex, but with the newer technology now available it is becoming easier every day.
Irrigation systems that can measure and calculate something as seemingly insignificant as evapotranspiration can make a huge difference in crop yield and farm success.
With the ability to track evaporation and transpiration by the day and estimate the need for more or less irrigation, farmers can grow more efficiently. Irrigators offering this type of technology can now be found at farm irrigation system dealers everywhere.