Farmers all consider themselves stewards of the land they farm. We believe firmly in taking care of our soil so the next generation can call it home. Every day we do what we can to take care of the precious resource so it continues to produce an abundance year after year. Have you ever stopped to consider yourself a water steward? Have you considered how water plays an impactful role in your ag operation?
Generally speaking, most farmers don’t think about the role water plays in their stewardship. It is simply too easy to drive to the pivot control panel, jump out of the truck, walk the dozen or so steps to the panel, make a handful of adjustments, push the start button and then drive on to the next field only to do the same thing again. It is just part of the daily life of a row crop farmer.
I grew up with a 100% dryland operation. I was well into my 30’s before I knew the ease of starting a pivot. I remember distinctly as a child each night watching the evening news and all had to be quiet during the weather so my father could hear what the weather forecast would be. We depended solely on Mother Nature’s grace to give us the water we so desperately needed. Back then we didn’t have the technology to tell us how much water was in our profile, we just assumed we needed it.
Today, I still see farmers mechanically watering under the premise that the crop needs it. As we start to plant, I see dust clouds galore rolling. I know exactly what every farmer is thinking, as they sit in their tractor cabs crawling back and forth across the land. “As soon as I get done planting this field, I will need to turn the pivot on.”
But how much water is the right application? Farmer tradition is 1”. It’s what their father applied and their father’s father applied. Many are taught that 1” is the “perfect” amount. However, I will argue till the sun sets that you must change your mindset from 1” to what is appropriate according to the soil type, crop type, and terrain. But how do you know what is an appropriate amount and when? Most of the country saw a wet winter and spring. Soil profiles are full, with the exception of the top couple of inches that Mother Nature directly touches. Wind and sun have a tendency to dry out the soil, but only on the top. It takes many weeks of her furry to dry soil deep into the profile.
Have you taken your shovel and dug the soil profile? Are you assuming it is dry down deep? Why not consider a snapshot view of what your soil profile looks like? Your soil microbes will thank you as well as your crop! CropMetrics can give you a below surface level view of water in your crop’s profile, coupled with a certified irrigation advisor, so you apply the right amount at the right time. We plant by the linear inch, we fertilize by the linear inch, why not water by the linear inch? While I won’t argue that the top might need a small dose of water to calm the dust storm, as we don’t need another Dirty 30’s to happen, 1” simply isn’t necessary, especially this early in the game.