Colorado is a semi-arid state and water is always an issue. Now with attention on climate change it’s even more important to assess what we are doing as an industry. Governor Jared Polis announced his Water ‘22 initiative in January, and as businesses we all need to do our part to save water as well. Although none of these ideas are new, it’s a good time now—before the heat of the summer—to implement a couple of these things, or reassess these practices in your company.
Match your irrigation practices/systems to your operation and crops. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all system. The system should allow the grower to optimize plant growth and performance and save water. A GGS Structures, Inc. article from March states that drip systems can increase production 20-90%, and can save 50-70% more water than a traditional irrigation system. Sub irrigation (trough systems, flood benches and floors, capillary mats) can increase production while using 50% less water than traditional methods.
Automated systems can save labor as well as being more efficient. According to Greenhouse Grower magazine (Apr 8, 2022) the right irrigation system can reduce labor and operating costs too. When implemented correctly, automated irrigation allows growers to optimize performance, without significantly raising overall expenses. An automated greenhouse watering system helps reduce labor requirements, allowing for uniform watering without requiring growers or workers to tend to their setup daily. With an automated irrigation system, growers can also significantly decrease their utility costs, and the amount of water waste. Through precise, uniform irrigation, watering only occurs when it needs to, and plants get the exact amount they need to thrive. Yield size and crop quality is improved, and you can plan for peak use and be the most efficient during this time.
Embrace new technology! Maybe it’s time to change out some old valves, filters or controls to more water-smart ones. Talk to your favorite supplier of irrigation/control equipment to see what new, advanced, water-smart technology you could add or change out in your system to make it more efficient. It will be well worth the money spent.
Good maintenance is key. Check all valves, faucets, connections, etc. for drips. It could be as easy as replacing those worn-out washers. Do this not only in the greenhouse or nursery, but in offices, bathrooms and kitchens at work too. Do more sweeping, rather than hosing off walking areas – not only does it save water, it doesn’t encourage algae, moss, etc., and it’s safer for those walking on it (not slippery).
Make water efficiency part of your staff meetings. Talk to your staff, let them know that water efficiency is a company priority. Tell all staff to report any leaks. Remind growers to turn off hoses, etc., if someone stops to talk to them or they need to set the hose down to do something else. Talk about the simple things that employees can do at work and home, like turning off the water when washing hands, and using a bucket in the shower to catch water while it’s warming up and then use it to water plants. Remind everyone that every drop counts and that the little things add up.