4 Simple Tips For Improving The Health Of Your Irrigation Dam
It’s a simple truth that the better the health of your irrigation dam, the better the quality of the water that you use for irrigation.
Unfortunately, when left to their own devices, irrigation dams are plagued by the same issues as any other type of man-made water body and this isn’t great for your crops.
We’re often asked about what solutions irrigators should put in place to ensure top water quality and whether they can use the same methods for improving the health of their dam as those who aren’t pulling water out every other day. So, to provide some clarity (pun intended), this one’s just for our irrigating friends, read on to discover our four simple tips for improving the health of your irrigation dam:
Install A Dam Aerator.
In regard to dam aeration, irrigation dams can be treated much like any other water body.
The purpose of installing a dam aerator is to boost dissolved oxygen levels within the dam so the efficiency of your dam aeration system will not be impacted by irrigation activities.
Not only with this additional oxygen boost the health of your dam, it can also improve the quality of your soil as well aerated water is the perfect environment for beneficial aerobic bacteria (more on that later).
Make Use Of Dam Liner.
Admittedly, this one is a lot easier during the construction stage but if you find yourself in a situation where your dam is empty (or close enough) installing a dam liner can be a big help in improving your irrigation water quality, clarity and irrigation efficiency.
If your dam is one of the ones that’s simply a hole in the ground that collects and holds rainwater, you’ve probably got a lot of nutrient leaching from the soil into your water. This excess nutrient is the perfect food for algae and aquatic weeds, two issues which can easily suffocate your aquatic ecosystem if allowed to get out of hand.
Plus, the addition of a dam liner prevents dirt particles from rising out of the soil into your dam meaning it will be much less likely to turn brown and muddy.
Our top recommendation for dam liner is EPDM rubber but we can also supply other varieties to suit your needs.
Apply Biological Water Treatments.
The application of biological water treatments can also greatly improve the health and water quality of your irrigation dam.
Biological water treatments, like the WaterTreats Biostim range, are natural products crafted from beneficial bacteria and the micronutrients that support these bacteria.
Our top recommendation for treating irrigation dams is Biostim Pellets. This is because the pellets work in the sludge layer at the bottom of your dam rather than in the water column which makes them far less likely to be pumped out when it comes time to irrigate.
Did you know that the same aerobic bacteria that live in your dam also live in soil?
This means that as an added benefit, applying biological water treatments to your dam can also help improve the health of your crops by transforming nasties into beneficial nutrients. The more oxygen you have in your dam, the more your beneficial bacteria populations will flourish and dosing your dam with a biological water treatment further supports the health of your existing bacteria while also adding more.
Obviously you don’t want to dose with a treatment that is going to be sucked straight back out when you irrigate so the application of Biostim Pellets will ensure you treat the areas you want or need to while also supporting the pre-existing bacteria living in your water column which will then be carried to your fields and look after your crops.
Plant Out Your Dam Banks.
Planting the banks of any dam is a good idea to assist in filtration but it is a particularly important improvement for irrigation dams. This is because you most likely have pesticides and other chemicals making their way into your water, be it from your own crop fields or your neighbours. This isn’t great for the bacteria living in your dam and can be fatal for any fishy friends you have in high enough quantities.
By planting hardy species around the banks of your dam, you will achieve both mechanical and biological filtration of any runoff that makes its way into your dam. The helps protect your water quality and crops from any adverse effects which may come from contaminated run off.
Planting out your banks also reduces soil and bank erosion which helps defend against water clarity issues.
Bonus Tip: Apply A Pump Defender.
Matala Pump Defenders are traditionally designed for the protection of submersible pumps, but we received word from Dural Irrigation and some of our other irrigation store stockists that they’re flying off shelves for use with foot valve strainers.
This led to a fairly decent rabbit hole of research, but we are now satisfied with what we found and happily recommend Pump Defenders for this purpose.
Pump Defenders are essentially premium quality filter media in a mesh bag which makes them super easy to install and highly beneficial for your irrigation system. Not only will they greatly reduce the chances of your irrigation system clogging, they will also provide a home for beneficial bacteria right near your irrigation intake which (as noted in the biological water treatment section of this post) is great for improving soil quality as well.
By implementing these tips you can easily improve the health of your irrigation dam and, by extension, that of your crops. These tips will work best when all utilised together, however if you only make a few changes, we strongly suggest that you start by installing a dam aerator and beginning a biological water treatment plan. These two options will have the biggest impact on your water quality and are also vital for the health of any fish stocked in your dam.
Our friendly expert team are always happy to help so do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions about this article, your water quality or any of your other irrigation dam needs.
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