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Vision: Are You an Irrigation Surfer or Sailor?

Just for fun, since plant health and performance is directly impacted by the environmental conditions (both above and below the soil surface), tell me the amount of rainfall that occurred on June 6 of last year. Wait, I’ll make it easier – tell me the total rainfall of any date in June last year?

Stumped? Well, so am I. Who could possibly remember that?

By that notion, you’ll soon forget today’s rainfall total too. And that’s the point: If you are a grower who implements Plant Triggered Irrigation —as we counsel our clients to use— there is no need to be concerned with what rainfall occurred or for that matter if the temperature, humidity, wind speed or sunlight intensity is influencing plant health on any particular day, hour or minute because the plant itself tells the irrigation system what it wants or needs every fifteen minutes.

Without Plant Triggered Irrigation, when weather instability occurs, some folks call us expressing worry and a few showed outright fears about their crop’s capability to produce high yield and quality. Because traditional irrigation managers must manually intervene, it’s the outguessing and subsequent irrigation action that promotes anxiety to try, and usually fail, to bring plant health back into balance.

I can’t help but notice that some clients never thought to complain when timely rainfall, perfect temperatures and full sunlight are all in alignment for the perfect crop. They object only to downside weather volatility, which negatively impacts yield, disease or quality—failing to realize that they can’t have one without the other.

Consider Monday, June 5, 2014. It rained 1½ inches and temperature fluctuated from 72 degrees to 90 degrees—its greatest temperature swing since May. The next day was much cooler and cloudier, plus it rained ½ inch. But on Wednesday, it was sunny, 85 degrees and the relative humidity rose above 85% and windy. Thursday the temperature topped out at 90 degrees, rained ½ inch, the wind was calm and it was sunny in the morning and cloudy in the afternoon. On Friday it was very sunny from dusk until dawn, a mild wind and the temperature peaked at 90 degrees by 3:30 in the afternoon.

What a wild week of weather gyrations! And we’ve seen additional bursts of weather unpredictability—both too much and too little—many times since. Every week, every day, every hour and every fifteen minutes is different and good managers can’t keep up if production optimization is their goal. With manual or prescriptions irrigation techniques, it’s impossible to start and stop irrigating in a timely fashion before plant stress occurs.

So if you find weather volatility discomforting as it relates to your irrigation action plans, perhaps my analogy of surfers and sailors might help.

Surfers love the thrill of riding the ocean’s waves. But they often wipe out.

Sailors, by contrast, know that waves don’t effect the times. The ocean ebbs and flows on a regular schedule; tides are predictable, measurable and manageable.

Which one are you? Call us today if you think Plant Triggered Irrigation is right for you.

Lee Fiocchi III