Better BMP Implementation

Better BMP Implementation

Improving irrigation management can reduce production costs, save water, and reduce the risk of nutrient leaching. Proper irrigation scheduling requires a target irrigation volume, a measure of soil moisture, and a knowledge of how much water the root zone can hold. A method to account for rainfall contribution to volume, soil texture, organic matter content, compaction, rooting depth, hard pan layers, and antecedent soil moisture all are factors in water movement in the soil. One of the problems with making good irrigation management decisions is that water movement in the root zone is difficult to visualize. A dye test can provide a simple and practical method to visualize water movement in the soil by showing the depth and width of irrigation water movement in the soil.

Irrigation Demonstration

The UF/IFAS BMP Implementation Team planned a demonstration to show the effects of over-irrigation on the fate of nitrogen for the Florida Sod BMP Kick-off Event it held at Strickland Sod in New Smyrna Beach. The plan was to put a water-soluble dye (that mimics the movement of water-soluble forms of nitrogen) in a sod field the day prior to the event, water it in, and then dig pits in the sod on the day of the event to show dye distribution in the soil. However, nature did not fully cooperate. Two days before the event, a storm system moved through the area and dumped several inches of rain, saturating the soil. We went ahead with the demonstration, and sprayed a water-soluble dye in two separate areas. A traveling gun was used to apply ½ inch on one of the areas and the other was over-irrigated with 3 inches.

Unexpected Results

Usually, the plot that is over-irrigated will show that the dye has moved down through and beyond the rooting zone. The results of this demonstration were quite interesting in that the usual effect was not observed, but another important lesson was learned. The dye penetrated in both plots to the same depth, about 4 inches. Two factors contributed to this occurrence:

1. The soil was very wet before the demonstration was started, and most of the soil pore spaces were already full of water below the 4-inch depth to which the dye penetrated. When the irrigation water hit the saturated zone, it was not able to penetrate any further and moved laterally towards the drainage ditch.

2. The production field is crowned for drainage purposes (as opposed to being level). Wet field conditions result in excess irrigation or rainfall running off the field.

Important Implications

This demonstration illustrated that when you have crowned fields and soil moisture near field capacity, much of the applied fertilizer can leave the farm via sheet flow regardless of irrigation depth. Although this demonstration was done on a sod farm, producers of other commodities can apply this lesson when making management decisions about fertilization and irrigation under wet soil conditions.

The take-home lessons for growers from this demonstration are as follows:

  • Consider land leveling.
  • Do not fertilize when you have wet soil conditions.
  • Do not fertilize when you expect heavy rainfall.

Additional information on conducting dye tests can be found in the IFAS EDIS Extension document at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/HS222. Growers interested in learning more about using dye tests to visualize irrigation can contact their local county Extension office or the UF/IFAS BMP Implementation Team.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
Photo of New Guinea flatworm found near Coral Gables, FL
CitrusSouth Florida’s Newest Pest Has Significant Ooze Factor
July 2, 2015
The infamous New Guinea flatworm, one of the ‘world's worst invasive alien species,’ might have found a new home. Read More
Farm ManagementPMA Advocates For Improvements To Proposed FSMA Mandatory Food Recall Guidance
July 2, 2015
This week the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) submitted comments on behalf of its membership to FDA regarding the proposed Mandatory Read More
VegetablesUnited Fresh Leadership Program’s Class 20 Donates 28 Salad Bars To Schools
July 2, 2015
Over the past year, the twelve members of United Fresh Produce Industry Leadership Program’s Class 20 raised funds to support Read More
CitrusFlorida’s Young Farmers Working To Bridge Generation Gap
July 2, 2015
Leadership conference to give GenNext Growers tools to become better agvocates. Read More
ProductionUse Broccoli Rotations To Reduce Disease And Minimize Leaching
July 1, 2015
Crop rotations are a key production practice utilized by every grower. You recognize the importance of rotations to break insect Read More
CitrusIndustry Stakeholders Rip Report Linking Citrus Consumption With Skin Cancer
July 1, 2015
Associations react swiftly; call out flaws in study released by the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Read More
Cucurbits11 Pumpkin And Squash Varieties
July 1, 2015
This month’s variety specs feature focuses on pumpkin and squash varieties. Features highlighted include great disease resistance packages, excellent yield potential, Read More
VegetablesInterview With Hazera Global Onion Product Manager
July 1, 2015
Onion is one of the most produced vegetable crops in the world. A lot of expertise is required to develop Read More
EquipmentHarvest Trends: More Mechanization Needed For Vegetable Growers
July 1, 2015
As the labor supply declines, industry experts and growers say investing in the latest harvesting technology will be necessary. Read More
healthy piece of citrus
Citrus Achievement AwardNeglected Research, Future Growers Top Of Mind For 2015 Citrus Achievement Award Winner
July 1, 2015
Orie Lee advises young up-and-comers to supplement production knowledge with business acumen; calls for more focus on blight. Read More
The Latest
Photo of New Guinea flatworm found near Coral Gables, FL
CitrusSouth Florida’s Newest Pest Has Significant Ooze Factor
July 2, 2015
The infamous New Guinea flatworm, one of the ‘world's worst invasive alien species,’ might have found a new home. Read More
Farm ManagementPMA Advocates For Improvements To Proposed FSMA Mandato…
July 2, 2015
This week the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) submitted comments on behalf of its membership to FDA regarding the proposed Mandatory Read More
VegetablesUnited Fresh Leadership Program’s Class 20 Donates 28 S…
July 2, 2015
Over the past year, the twelve members of United Fresh Produce Industry Leadership Program’s Class 20 raised funds to support Read More
CitrusFlorida’s Young Farmers Working To Bridge Generation Ga…
July 2, 2015
Leadership conference to give GenNext Growers tools to become better agvocates. Read More
ProductionUse Broccoli Rotations To Reduce Disease And Minimize L…
July 1, 2015
Crop rotations are a key production practice utilized by every grower. You recognize the importance of rotations to break insect Read More
CitrusIndustry Stakeholders Rip Report Linking Citrus Consump…
July 1, 2015
Associations react swiftly; call out flaws in study released by the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Read More
Cucurbits11 Pumpkin And Squash Varieties
July 1, 2015
This month’s variety specs feature focuses on pumpkin and squash varieties. Features highlighted include great disease resistance packages, excellent yield potential, Read More
VegetablesInterview With Hazera Global Onion Product Manager
July 1, 2015
Onion is one of the most produced vegetable crops in the world. A lot of expertise is required to develop Read More
EquipmentHarvest Trends: More Mechanization Needed For Vegetable…
July 1, 2015
As the labor supply declines, industry experts and growers say investing in the latest harvesting technology will be necessary. Read More
healthy piece of citrus
Citrus Achievement AwardNeglected Research, Future Growers Top Of Mind For 2015…
July 1, 2015
Orie Lee advises young up-and-comers to supplement production knowledge with business acumen; calls for more focus on blight. Read More
Business PlanningTake Climate Change — Please [Opinion]
June 30, 2015
It’s a difficult issue because people tend to think of it in terms of something tangible — like the weather. Read More
NutsWalnut Nitrogen Budgeting Critical
June 30, 2015
Applying the right amount of N is not easy because walnuts take a lot, but these days you don’t want to apply too much. Read More
FruitsHighlights From The Ohio Produce Growers And Marketers …
June 30, 2015
American Vegetable Grower magazine made its way to the Ohio Produce Growers and Marketers Association (OPGMA) Summer Tour & Field Read More
Insect ControlAlabama Insect Scouting Report Indicates Armyworm Numbe…
June 30, 2015
Report discusses caterpillars, sucking pests, and cowpea curculio activity and management. Read More
Nutrient ManagementResearchers Say Cover Crops May Help Save Soil In Flood…
June 30, 2015
According to experts, planting cover crops may help preserve healthy soil in fields in fields left empty this year thanks to flooding. Read More
TomatoesGSPP Accreditation Enables Sakata Seed America To Offer…
June 30, 2015
The seed company is now authorized to store, treat, process, package, and distribute GSPP-certified tomato seed for the NAFTA market. Read More
MarketingThe Power Of Local Food [Opinion]
June 30, 2015
Summer is now in full swing and we have entered what I like to call “the season of farmers markets.” Read More
PotatoesInnovative Technology Is Necessary For Potato Growers T…
June 30, 2015
Historically, there has often been opposition or fear of new agricultural technologies and today is no different, but it is critical that growers have access to technologies that meet consumer demand while using less land and conserving soil, water, and energy. Read More