If you’re in agriculture and you want to maximize crop yields while saving on irrigation and chemical treatments, you never stop going to school—in this case, Drip Irrigation School. This program, developed by faculty at UF/IFAS Extension, helps farmers in Columbia County and other parts of Florida adopt water-saving technologies. Unlike overhead sprayers, which broadcast water over an entire field, drip irrigation targets the plant’s root zone, the part of the soil where the plant can absorb water and nutrients. This precision approach allows growers to use fewer resources without sacrificing the quality of their crops. Drip irrigation also helps prevent fungal diseases, reducing the need for chemical treatments.
However, as with any unfamiliar technology, there is a learning curve.
“Many small and beginning farmers want to grow produce using drip irrigation, and we want UF/IFAS Extension to be a source of expertise and instruction for these folks,” says Mace Bauer, an agriculture agent with UF/IFAS Extension Columbia County. The Drip Irrigation School is an opportunity for small and beginning farmers to get expert, hands-on training with irrigation systems and best management practices.
It’s just one way that UF/IFAS Extension is helping to grow Columbia County’s economy.
Columbia County UF/IFAS Extension Agent Mace Bauer (right) and a watermelon farmer examine a soil moisture monitoring device. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones