Irrigation is a great tool that most property managers use and many homeowners have come to adopted as well. First used in the agricultural industry, landscapers discovered the cost saving benefits and overall efficiency when covering a lot of ground in a short amount of time. The technology itself is what we refer to when we say great, but what goes through those lines to get to your soil – not so great. We’re speaking specifically of the sodium content in the irrigation water. All irrigation water contains a level of salinity and when over irrigation occurs that level in soil spikes.
Soils with a high salinity level have major consequences on the plants they house. They cause decreased availability of potassium (K) and magnesium (Mg) that lead to nutritional problems and the destruction of soil structure. The malnutrition becomes apparent with dying grass and withering plants. When levels get high enough, symptoms include leaf burn, necrosis, and actual salt build up on top of the grass.
A case study done in Memorial Park of Colorado Springs, Colorado showed this type of extreme salinity due to over irrigation. The result – topical salt deposits that left huge bare spots in the landscape when growing season rolled around. View the case study here.
Agronomist Bill Nolde was at the helm of this study. He told us that at almost every property he has consulted on and done soil health testing and analysis for, there is an 50% over usage of water, specifically irrigation water.
The best way to control soil salinity and avoid over-irrigation is to stop it before it happens by implement water-use efficiency measures at the beginning of growing season. Here are 4 practices to implement this growing season;
- Monitor soil moisture & be sure to accurately determine your landscape’s water requirements. An inexpensive water moisture meter is effective in determining the need to irrigate.
- Implement a drip irrigation system, especially when delivering water to your trees and shrubs.
- Establish and maintain trees and shrubs with deep roots to maximize water extraction
- Incorporate a water retention nutrient to your maintenance schedule. We recommend Hydro-Maxx
Treatment of high salinity levels in soil due to over-irrigation is possible but much more difficult than being proactive and avoiding the issue all together. By establishing these 4 practices before the growing season kicks into full throttle you can dodge the over-irrigation problems down the line.