Irrigation is a fancy word for watering plants to help them grow. Of course it’s important to water plants when it’s hot out, but farmers also use irrigation to help increase crop density, or the number of crops that can be grown in an area.
Farmers are in the business of water. Healthy crops need water and a lot of healthy crops need a lot of water. Farmers practice smart irrigation techniques that help save themselves thousands of dollars each year.
Did you know that 40% of the world's food supply is farmed on irrigated cropland? And almost half of that is land lies within China, India, and the US. In the early days of irrigation, very little water conservation equipment or technology was available and large amounts of water were lost to evaporation or runoff.
Technology has advanced significantly to maximize water efficiency. Some practices are simple and are things you probably do at home, such as watering during the coolest parts of the day to reduce evaporation. Some tools however, such as center pivot systems, use software on computers and mobile devices to control how much water crops receive, where the water goes, and when the irrigation system is turned on or off.
Visit The Groundwater Foundation's website to learn more about irrigation and check back on Wednesdays as Frannie explores how groundwater and irrigation help grow the food we eat.