It typically takes 1 1/2 hours each morning and night to adequately water all of our beds. I don't mind this chore so much as it allows me time to listen to the birds and inspect for insects and pests on the plants. My only gripe is that I really have no idea how much water I'm using. We had planned to install drip irrigation for the 2020 growing season but were not able to pursue that due to Paul's mini-stroke in January. That medical emergency pretty much rocked our whole world and changed how we look at life. So anyway, fast forward through all of the doctors appointments and Covid-19 to May. I was just finishing up planting the bulk of the crops when I was contacted by our extension agent, Jennifer Schutter, concerning a grant, Drip Irrigation for Small Producers, from the Missouri Department of Agriculture Specialty Crops program. She put us in touch with Dan Downing, Extension Water Quality Specialist, Sustainable Ag. Research and Education Coordinator, to get the specifics to determine if a temporary or permanent installation would work best for our operation. We decided that a temporary system would be the best fit for our growing practices. This system will allow us the flexibility to change beds around and rotate our crops as we see fit each season. At this time our beds mostly run north south with the a handful running east west. We plan on changing that for the 2021 growing season, so flexibility is very important.
On June 11, 2020 Dan, Joe Zulovich (Extension Agricultural Engineer), Dr. Jiafeng Zhou (Ag. Systems Management Professor), and Jennifer Schutter (Extension Horticulturalist),
taught us how to install the system and gave us great ideas on how to make it work for the layout of our beds - we have 39 beds spread over just a little more than 1/2 acre with our house in the center. We have added two manifolds to create four zones for us to water. Each of these zones will be able to be controlled remotely with solenoids and a programmable controller provided by the grant.
Shyanne and I have been slowly adding the drip tape to all the beds and look to have the system completely up and running by the end of the month. This system is great because it allows us to better control the amount of water we use on our crops and is super easy to install. In August, we are hosting a demonstration day to show other small producers how a drip irrigation system can benefit their operation like it has ours.