Irrigation Water Sources: 4 Tips For Growing Produce With Different Water Sources

Growing produce, especially in commercial amounts, requires a great deal of clean water. Not only must you keep your crop watered, you will need to use water during the harvesting process. Contaminants and pathogens can be spread via water, so you have to be careful about where you get your water. There are three main sources of water: surface water, well water, and municipal water. Surface water has the greatest risk for contaminating your produce while municipal water carries the least risk. Well water falls somewhere in between. Regardless, all three types can be used safely if you do the following. 

Monitor Water Sources During Irrigation

Surface water carries the greatest risk of contamination, so you should only use it during planting and the growing phase. During the growing season, monitor your surface water supply for evidence of animal activity and/or contaminated drainage from other sources. If at all possible, protect your surface water with a fence, thick vegetation, or diversion berms. If you use well water, you should have the well inspected and the water tested during the growing season. Most water well service companies will do this for you. Municipal water requires no testing. 

Choose The Proper Delivery Method

Certain delivery methods, such as drip irrigation, provide some safety from contamination. These methods deliver water directly to the soil rather than spraying it on top of the produce. If you're using water that can possibly be contaminated, be sure to use the safest delivery system and cover the drip lines. 

Inspect Water Containers and Delivery Systems

If you have a well, water storage container, pumps and pipes that store and deliver water to your crops, you should have them serviced and inspected regularly. An inspection will ensure that you don't have contamination sources close to the water system as well as check out the components to make sure they're in tact and working properly. This is vital for the health of your water supply. If one small rodent gets into your well through a broken cap or component, you could lose the use of the well. 

Use A Safe Water Source After Harvest

After harvest, you should never use a questionable water source. Do not use well water or surface water after harvest. Water used during and after harvest must meet drinking water standards.

You need a lot of water to grow a healthy crop. Fortunately, you can use water from a variety of water sources, provided you take care to keep those sources safe.