Kootenay & Boundary Farm Advisors (KBFA) have released a 12-part video series for farmers, all about optimizing irrigation techniques as we head into hotter and drier months.
KBFA has spent the last few weeks on farms in the region, from Invermere to Grand Forks, to host field days that focus on various irrigation systems and techniques.
They have filmed all of the content in order to be able to offer it for free, online, for anyone to view.
The series provides recommendations on how to optimize water usage on farms while combatting climate change, KBFA says.
“As the summers get hotter and drier, farmers in the Kootenay-Boundary region are stepping up to fine tune their irrigation systems to make sure that their crops will get the right amount of water, at the right time, without wasting a drop,” KBFA said in a media release. “Irrigation is necessary for most crop production in the Kootenays, and farmers know that it is important to demonstrate stewardship and responsible water use to receive support from the broader community.”
March 1, 2022 marked the deadline for the province’s water licensing system, requiring those who use groundwater to apply for a license in order to secure their water rights. The province aims to monitor water usage – who and how much water can be used, stored or diverted.
Now that the deadline has passed, the province requires non-domestic groundwater users to apply for a new water license.
While this is one way that the province aims to monitor water usage, KBFA encourages farmers to ensure they are using water in an effective and efficient way through their systems.
KBFA explains that farmers need to pinpoint areas to improve their own irrigation systems in order to maximize water usage and ensure that crops get the right amount of water.
“For a number of reasons, we’re likely to have less and less water available to irrigate in peak season,” said Andrew Bennett, KBFA general advisor and irrigation designer. “Planning your crop water demand ahead of time to ensure that your system can deliver what your farm needs is very important. Automation of irrigation systems is also a way to ensure that you aren’t watering too much or too little, and it saves the producer valuable time, which is always in limited supply.”
He adds that farmers are finding new and innovative ways to use their irrigation systems more effectively and sparingly. It’s important to do so, he says, as climate change continues to warm the province.
“Hotter, drier summers mean crops will need more water to thrive as well, but that’s right when water levels will get really low as the hills stop supplying our rivers and aquifers,” said Bennett.
Last year’s heatwave saw many farms struggle to keep their crops alive as temperatures soared to record-breaking levels for nearly two weeks.
In the first video from KBFA, they visit farms whose experiences show how the importance of “going into the season with roots fully watered and to pay close attention to the soil and weather when irrigating” which can help when extreme temperatures arise.
Another video focuses on irrigation and drought resources for B.C. farmers. KBFA explains how there is a wealth of knowledge available for free including major designs, fact-sheets, online maps and calculators.
The entire series is intended to provide resources for farms that are looking to not only make a change, but to “take matters into their own hands”, KBFA says.
KBFA also offers free technical extension, resources and support for farmers in the region.