Based on research into irrigation scheduling through the Living Lab – Atlantic project, an irrigation calculator has been developed for potato growers on Prince Edward Island, a July 19 news release said.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Research Scientist Yefang Jiang looked into the impact of scheduling supplemental irrigation on potato yields on several P.E.I. farms between 2019 to 2022. The release note he studied moisture levels in the soil and what level provided the optimal environment for increasing potato yield and quality.
Through this research Jiang was able to find that irrigation scheduling wasn’t just determined by the moisture in the soil, but also the growth stage of the potato crop, soil type, as well as the short-term weather forecast, the releasee said. He then took this information and developed an online calculator with help from Morteza Mesbah, Kristen Murchison and Scott Anderson from AAFC.
“Some farmers might be using less water than they need, where others might be using more than they need. The calculator will determine an optimal supplemental irrigation rate, and in turn will reduce water use,” Jiang said in the release.
The calculator allows growers to enter the soil type on their farm, growth stage of their potato crop, the current soil moisture level taken by a soil moisture metre, the seven-day rainfall forecast (in millimetres), as well as the efficiency of their irrigation system to provide water to the crop. It then provides an exact amount of water to apply to the field in millimetres and inches, or says no irrigation is necessary if the crop has all the moisture it needs, the release said.
Jiang is working with four P.E.I. potato growers to collect more data in order to improve the calculator. Growers are encouraged to start using the tool, the release noted.