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
tomatoes and strawberries
BerriesScientists Seek To Save Flavor Of Tomatoes And Strawberries
April 17, 2015
A $500,000 grant will enable University of Florida researchers to focus on how light can affect the quality and taste of produce after harvest. Read More
GrapesThe Economic Impact Of Grapevine Leafroll Disease
April 17, 2015
Different control strategies are recommended depending on the prevalence of the disease in vineyard blocks. Read More
Natalie Parkell and Kevin Osburn of Vertical Horizon Farms
CitrusSmall Family Farms Can Survive [Opinion]
April 17, 2015
It is reassuring amid the corporate climate the agriculture industry has experienced in more recent times that there is still room for the little guy, and — more importantly — a need. Read More
GrapesTable Grape Commission Awarded More Funding To Study Postharvest Treatment
April 16, 2015
The research will ensure California grape exports continue uninterrupted. Read More
Tom West Blueberries family
BerriesUrban Sprawl Doesn’t Stop 4th-Generation Florida Farm From Growing
April 16, 2015
Growing in town supports the evolution of Tom West Blueberries. Read More
Golden Rice
CitrusMore Social Commentators Changing Their Views On GMO Crops
April 15, 2015
Could public opinion be swayed by evolving narration on genetic modification? Read More
EquipmentTips To Reduce Soil Compaction In The Field
April 15, 2015
Growers are encouraged to check and maintain proper tire pressure as temperature changes throughout the growing season. Read More
FruitsNew Protective Coating Available For Bee Hives
April 14, 2015
Sustainable crop management company Biobest has announced the launch of “Bee-Coat,” a new protective coating for bumblebee hives. It is Read More
Gala green tip apple bloom
Apples & PearsApple Scab Spores Begin To Emerge In Pennsylvania
April 14, 2015
Now is a good time to apply copper sprays to protect trees. Read More
FruitsRecord Low Snowpack In Washington State
April 14, 2015
Experts say snowmelt occurring earlier than expected. Read More
The Latest
tomatoes and strawberries
BerriesScientists Seek To Save Flavor Of Tomatoes And Strawber…
April 17, 2015
A $500,000 grant will enable University of Florida researchers to focus on how light can affect the quality and taste of produce after harvest. Read More
GrapesThe Economic Impact Of Grapevine Leafroll Disease
April 17, 2015
Different control strategies are recommended depending on the prevalence of the disease in vineyard blocks. Read More
Natalie Parkell and Kevin Osburn of Vertical Horizon Farms
CitrusSmall Family Farms Can Survive [Opinion]
April 17, 2015
It is reassuring amid the corporate climate the agriculture industry has experienced in more recent times that there is still room for the little guy, and — more importantly — a need. Read More
GrapesTable Grape Commission Awarded More Funding To Study Po…
April 16, 2015
The research will ensure California grape exports continue uninterrupted. Read More
Tom West Blueberries family
BerriesUrban Sprawl Doesn’t Stop 4th-Generation Florida …
April 16, 2015
Growing in town supports the evolution of Tom West Blueberries. Read More
Golden Rice
CitrusMore Social Commentators Changing Their Views On GMO Cr…
April 15, 2015
Could public opinion be swayed by evolving narration on genetic modification? Read More
EquipmentTips To Reduce Soil Compaction In The Field
April 15, 2015
Growers are encouraged to check and maintain proper tire pressure as temperature changes throughout the growing season. Read More
FruitsNew Protective Coating Available For Bee Hives
April 14, 2015
Sustainable crop management company Biobest has announced the launch of “Bee-Coat,” a new protective coating for bumblebee hives. It is Read More
Gala green tip apple bloom
Apples & PearsApple Scab Spores Begin To Emerge In Pennsylvania
April 14, 2015
Now is a good time to apply copper sprays to protect trees. Read More
FruitsRecord Low Snowpack In Washington State
April 14, 2015
Experts say snowmelt occurring earlier than expected. Read More
Crop ProtectionMore Help Needed To Track Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs, …
April 14, 2015
This pest, a problem in apples, tomatoes, and other fruit in the North, has recently moved into Georgia.    Read More
NutsPart 2: Spring Weed Management Tips For Almonds: Reduce…
April 14, 2015
Follow these tips to help improve long-term efficacy of herbicides. Read More
NutsPart 2: Combating Navel Orangeworm: IPM Approaches to R…
April 14, 2015
Follow these IPM approaches to reduce unnecessary sprays and manage pyrethroid resistance. Read More
CucurbitsHow To Control Damaging Diseases In Melons
April 14, 2015
Some of the top diseases to watch for include Fusarium wilt, angular leaf spot, and powdery mildew. Read More
CitrusFlorida Agriculture Rings Up Record $4.2 Billion In Int…
April 13, 2015
Accomplishment represents third year in a row that Sunshine State exports have topped the $4 billion mark. Read More
Disease ControlWebcast: Control High Tunnel Tomato Diseases
April 13, 2015
As part of a series of free educational webcasts on The Plant Management Network, a nonprofit online resource for researchers, Read More
TomatoesSuccess With Vegetable Grafting
April 10, 2015
Grafted Growers began as most successful companies do, which is to say, as a collaboration between innovative, and like-minded individuals. Read More
GrapesMeet The Expert: George Zhuang, Viticulturist
April 10, 2015
Zhuang, a new University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor, plans to focus his research on increasing production with fewer resources. Read More