This weather … it’s so irrigating!

This weekend I told my husband if we’re sitting on the porch discussing the weather when we’re 80…then he still hasn’t retired.

As a farmer, your livelihood depends on the weather (yeah, yeah, and ambition and nutrient balance in the soil and equipment and….). But the factor that we have absolutely no control over is the weather.

The farming community talks a lot about weather. What happens at the market sometimes differs from our other piece of farmland about 5 miles away. Each farmer’s need is a little different – from our produce farm nourishing young plants to our neighbor’s cattle farm focusing on when they can cut hay.

This spring and our start into summer has brought us some gorgeous weather that ripens strawberries quickly and makes it easy to get crops in the ground.

It also means those same crops are thirsty. Very thirsty.

We plant all of our vegetables and fruits within a distance that we are able to irrigate them. We utilize two forms of irrigation – overhead irrigation for our strawberries and sweet corn, and drip irrigation for tomatoes, peppers and much of the other produce in the market. Each pot of mums is also hooked up to irrigation.

It all starts at our lakes. We pump water from the lake through an underground pipe system to hydrants throughout the farm.

Drip irrigation line is buried into the freshly tilled soil as we lay plastic. Laying plastic helps control weeds. The drip irrigation line allows us to control water and deliver nutrients directly to the plants. Drip irrigation has revolutionized farming in hot climates such as Africa, where water is precious. Drip irrigation conserves water, reducing water needed between 20 and 50 percent by delivering water directly to a plant’s roots and reducing water loss to wind, runoff and other factors.

Each hydrant supports a different field. From the hydrant, water runs through a filter and to a main line. The drip irrigation line is inserted into the hose with a valve, giving us the ability to turn each row on or off at any time.

Once the lines are connected, we correct any leaking valves and cap off the rows to provide pressure that helps the drip irrigation run smoothly.

Irrigation hydrant. Also known as a Louie cooling station.

When the sun is out and there’s no rain in sight, irrigation helps keep us from sweating it!

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