Maintenance Practices

Maintaining equipment as well conserving water and soil are necessary for obtaining maximum yields with fewer resources. Poor maintenance can be spotted through uneven crop yields. Growers may start to see patches of a crop field that have low yields or smaller plants than other parts. This could be due to poor root growth of the plants (in poor soil conditions, normal nodal root systems cannot develop).

Maintaining Cover Crops

When mowing or roll crimping cover crops, if there are exposed patches of soil or uneven distribution, the exposed soil is impacted differently than the covered portion. This effects the germination process and root expansion, directly correlating to crop growth. A solution to this is to test the soil often in different areas to make sure the soil quality is balanced.

Maintaining Irrigation Systems and Equipment

It is important to do regular maintenance on irrigation systems. This can reduce repair costs as small problems can grow into serious issues requiring expensive fixes. Maintenance will also ensure all crops are being irrigated without interruptions in the regular schedule. Leaky or worn-out nozzles can increase costs and cause crops to be overwatered. Blocked nozzles can do the opposite by dehydrating plants, causing yield losses and potentially damaging the irrigation system further.

Different irrigation systems will have their own maintenance requirements, so it is important to know what to look for in specific systems. Keeping systems on an irrigation schedule will also help to determine when issues arise as this helps to monitor water consumption. If consumption increases, there may be a leak, and if it decreases there may be blockage. Plan for upgrades to the irrigation systems between five and ten years as maintenance costs can become overwhelming, it may also be cost effective for water conservation as well. Alongside maintaining the irrigation systems, be sure to do the same for all farm equipment. Practicing continual maintenance enables the life of the equipment to be extended and ensure proper irrigation for crops, while keeping costs down.

Another option when spreading cover crop residue is to make sure it is evenly spread throughout the field. This will help to cover soil and protect it from sun damage and evaporation. When pulling crops, evaluate and mark areas of soil to check for quality and health. Maintaining a record of this information will help determine patterns to pinpoint root causes and prepare for future harvests.