7 key tips for better irrigation systems in your greenhouse
Crops need enough water for optimum growth. Irrigation is an important factor when it comes to successful greenhouse farming. As a grower, you need an easy irrigation system to maintain, effective at delivering water to the plants, and easy to customize. You wouldn’t want to spend on a system that will not help. Here are 7 tips that can help you choose the best irrigation system for your greenhouse crops. Read on!
1. Choose an efficient watering method
There are different irrigation systems that you can use in your greenhouses, including drip, sprinkler, and mist systems. You need an efficient irrigation system that delivers water into the roots for optimum plant growth. One option that you should consider using is a drip irrigation system. This system is efficient, which means that you won’t have to waste water on plants that are already healthy and don’t need much water. Besides, you need an irrigation tubing made of a flexible material that can deliver just the right amount of water to every plant. It should also be durable so it won’t break easily, allowing you to use it for a long time without replacing it.
Sprinkler irrigation systems are also efficient in delivering water to the plants, especially for plants such as beans, peppers, and melons. Although they are not as efficient as drip systems, you can customize them to solve your water needs.
2. Consider your needs
When choosing an irrigation system for your greenhouse, you need to consider your specific needs. Some growers prefer a drip irrigation system because it’s more effective at delivering water deep into the plant’s roots. It’s important to evaluate the plants’ specific needs to determine what kind of irrigation system is necessary. For example, if you’re growing tomatoes or roses, you need to understand that they require enough moisture throughout the day. This means that you need a system that will be more efficient and uses less water. Since they are highly sensitive to high humidity and soil moisture, sprinkler irrigation might not be the best method. These conditions favor the development of diseases such as powdery mildew and wilting.
3. Choose a system that is easy to maintain and modify
Irrigation systems are usually easy to maintain and customize, making them an affordable option. However, it’s essential to make sure that the system you choose can be modified if you need to. For example, a drip irrigation system typically includes different heads that can be replaced for growers to adjust the amount of water being delivered.
4. Check on the source of your irrigation water
When growing in a greenhouse, you need a consistent water supply. Your water sources largely influence the choice of your irrigation system. This can be from streams, dams, rivers, or storage tanks. In drier areas, water sources are limited, and you need to enhance your irrigation efficiency while using less water. For instance, if you are farming in drier areas, you can use a system such as a drip irrigation. Apart from saving water, it ensures that the plants receive enough water. To maintain optimum crop growth, you should harvest rainfall water for use during the dry season. You can build a dam or use storage tanks on your farm.
5. Adjust your watering schedule.
If your current watering method isn’t effective or efficient, it’s essential to adjust your irrigation schedule accordingly. For example, if you’re using a drip irrigation system, you may need to water the plants more frequently to ensure that the roots receive enough water. Alternatively, if you’re using a misting system, you may need to raise the water pressure up or down for the water droplets to be dispersed uniformly.
6. Consider the amount of irrigation water to apply
The amount of irrigation water applied varies depending on the crop, soil conditions, and water availability. For instance, vegetables such as cabbage and spinach have higher water requirements than crops such as cowpeas and cereals. This means that the choice of your greenhouse will be influenced by the amount of water applied to crops. Also, the irrigation rate should be relatively low to allow water to percolate through the growing media. Besides, it must be effective, reduce the potential for accumulation of salts, and facilitate leaching levels at about 10-15% to prevent the accumulation of soluble salts.
7. Purchase an irrigation system
Suppose you’ve determined that you need to purchase an irrigation system to improve your watering regimen’s effectiveness. In that case, we offer several irrigation options to help you scale your watering needs. For example, drip systems can be purchased with either manual or automatic controllers, can be equipped with water meters or flow indicators, and misting systems can come equipped with spray heads and timers.
Here are more tips that can help you select and install the perfect irrigation system in your greenhouse. Dive in deeper!
- Choose the proper accessories, such as drip lines, soaker hoses, spray heads, and controllers.
- Calculate how much water each plant needs using a soil moisture meter or table provided by the manufacturer of your chosen irrigation system
- Install the necessary wiring (if needed)
- Install and check your system. Water should be applied in stages or as the ground dries. Do not over-irrigate your crops.
- Create an easy watering routine with scheduled irrigation so that each plant receives the proper amount of water through its entire lifecycle from planting to harvest (including manure breaks)
- Monitor and improve your current fertilization strategy using a soil moisture meter and a ppm testing kit on seedlings for daily dosing.
- If you are using a drip irrigation system, you can integrate it with fertigation systems to enhance nutrient application.
- Do not use PVC pipes or other types of plastics for tubing. These materials are prone to breakage and will quickly give out and cost you more money in the long run.
- Keep it simple with a timer or set up a rain sensor, so you’re watering efficiently when it rains rather than wasting water on wet soil.
- Don’t forget to shut off your overhead sprinkler system before you work to prevent water from spilling out of the system.
- Don’t place the emitters too close to the walls – this can cause back-flow issues and make watering a pain instead of fun.
- Try to mount your emitters on shelves or inside the greenhouse structure to avoid losing water due to poor placement.
- The type of tubing you use is extremely important; search around for recycled PVC piping! Find out how they’re sold and if it comes in different weights; use that tubing for what seems like an appropriate length.
Enjoy your greenhouse’s bounty!