Quality of Irrigation water and structured water
Irrigation water quality is the most critical factor for production of any crops. Water quality is determined by most important factors like alkalinity, pH and soluble salts. Several other factors also need to be considered like hard water salts such as calcium and magnesium or heavy metals that can clog irrigation systems and presence of toxic ions.
Suitability of water
- Poor quality water may be responsible for slow growth, poor aesthetic quality of the crop and, in some cases, can even result in the gradual death of the plants.
- High soluble salts can directly injure roots, interfering with water and nutrient uptake.
- Salts can accumulate in plant leaf margins, causing burning of the edges.
- Water with high alkalinity can adversely affect the pH of the growing medium, interfering with nutrient uptake and causing nutrient deficiencies which reduce plant health.
pH and Alkalinity
Alkalinity and pH are two important factors in determining the suitability of water for irrigating plants. In general, water for irrigation should have a pH between 5.0 and 7.0.
If water pH is above 7.0, and the chemical insecticides requires a lower pH, a buffering (acidifying) agent should be added to lower the pH of the water for mixing the spray. A pH of 6.0 is satisfactory for most pesticides.
Irrigation water issues
Salts associated with salinity and salts of sodium are two types of salt problems exist in irrigation water. Soils may be affected with only by salinity or by a combination of both salinity and sodium.
- Irrigation water with higher salinity is toxic to plants and poses a salinity hazard and soils with high levels of total salinity are called saline soils.
- High concentrations of salts in the soil can result in a “physiological” drought condition where the plants wilt because the roots are unable to absorb the water even in sufficient moisture conditions.
- Water salinity is usually measured by the TDS (total dissolved solids) or the EC (electric conductivity).
- Large amounts of sodium present in irrigation water is of special concern due to sodium’s adverse effects on the soil and results in sodium hazard.
- Sodium hazard is expressed in terms of SAR[sodium adsorption ratio].
- Sodium is adsorbed or attached to soil particles makes soil hard and compact in dry situations and ends up making soil increasingly impervious to water penetration.
- Fine textured soils, especially those high in clay, are most subject to this action.
Other Hazards of Bad quality water
The irrigation water directly affects the soil parameters, by dissolved materials and elements present. The soil is the one affected finally with the unsuitable irrigation water. Water can supply elements like calcium, Potassium, Magnesium, Boron and other elements.
- Highly accumulated boron concentrations render water unsuitable for irrigations.
- Crops exhibit toxic symptoms when grown on soils having imbalance concentrations of calcium and magnesium.
- Uptake of calcium nutrient by plants is decreased and adsorption of sodium and potassium, are increased which results in a disturbance in the cationic balance within the plant when grown in soil high in sulfates.
- Uptake and metabolism of nutrients is affected by the bicarbonate ion in soil solution.
- Higher potassium concentrations may introduce a magnesium deficiency and iron chlorosis.
- An imbalance of magnesium and potassium may be toxic, but the effects of both can be reduced by high calcium levels.
Water quality and crop growth:
Many crops have little tolerance for salinity during seed germination, but significant tolerance during later growth stages. Some crops such as barley, wheat and corn are known to be more sensitive to salinity during the early growth period than during germination and later growth periods. Sugar beet and safflower are relatively more sensitive during germination, while the tolerance of soybeans may increase or decrease during different growth periods depending on the variety.
Water structuring technology may be adapted in agriculture to overcome the poor quality irrigation water, and improve the quality of water used at various stages of agricultural enterprises.
Structured water is soft, energized, with original detached molecular structure, balanced pH, less surface tension, neutralized toxins and free of memory. Rain water is considered as the purest form of water as it is refreshed, energized by the natural action prevalent in the atmosphere.
Use of structured water not only benefits the agriculture but also benefits human and other domesticated animals. Immunological systems, digestive systems perform well.
Crystal blue water structuring units can be fitted to the water sources to structure the poor quality agricultural water to fine good quality water. The crops grown after the structured water use, the farmers have harvested upto 10 fold higher yield.
K SANJEEVA REDDY,
Senior Agronomist, BigHaat.
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