Well water quality and irrigation system management should be a top priority for vegetable and specialty crop producers gearing up for the spring season.
Gary Hawkins, an Assistant Professor in Water Resource Management at the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said a good clean well has reduced risks of pathogens and other bacteria in it.
Testing your water and irrigation systems now can prevent potential problems that may arise during the season.
“This time of year, they should be in the process of closing their systems down. Winterizing their irrigation systems is one good thing they can do. A second thing they can do this time of the year is really have an outline of how they could fix any leaks, geysers or anything else that makes their system inefficient,” Hawkins said. As they start thinking about cranking back up in the spring, late February, March, April timeframe; doing any irrigation water test.”
W33A Water Quality Test
Hawkins recommends a W33A water quality test that tests the chemistry in the water.
“That’ll test the basics, but it’ll also give us a sodium absorption ratio or an SAR number. That’ll give the farmer some indication of the combination of alkalinity Ph and what minerals are in the water itself, ground water or surface water. Is that water either going to corrode their pipes or is it going to lay down kind of a film in there that’s actually going to start clogging up their pipes?”
He also recommends a W35 bacteria test, which is especially important for producers irrigating vegetables and edible plants.
Other Points to Remember
Hawkins also emphasized that producers do not store chemicals or fertilizers close to the well head. In case there is a disconnection at the well head, any leaks of those products could get down by the well casing and to the aquifer.
It’s also important to keep the area clean around the well head so it is more visible. That way it is not at risk of getting hit with a tractor.
Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference
Hawkins delivered a presentation about well management during this week’s virtual Southeast Fruit and Vegetable Conference. The conference, which is normally held in January in Savannah, is being held virtually this year due to COVID-19 concerns. The three-day event will be held through Thursday, Jan. 7.