The Importance of Water Quality in Agriculture

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Agriculture has always been heavily dependent on good quality of water. The quality of water has never been an issue before since it was readily available and easy to use. Reliable supply of good quality of water is now under threat as more and more water supplies get polluted and new irrigation systems struggle to find the quality of water that would guarantee healthy crops. New irrigation systems have to rely on lower quality of water supplies which in turn mean lower quality of crops.

Water quality refers to the characteristics that influence quality of agriculture i.e. the physical, chemical and biological components of water. Water can be used for specific for example, river water may be excellent for irrigation because of its sediment load but may not be suited to municipal use.

Water Quality Problems

The dissolved salts in the water determine the quality of water and varies greatly from source to source. In irrigation sources, salt is present in small amounts that come from eroded land and soil that include lime, gypsum etc. The amount of salt dissolved in water determines the suitability of irrigation. 

The other factors that affect water quality are the following:

· Salinity

Salinity occurs when salt accumulates roots of the crop, which causes loss in yield. These salts originate from saline or a high water table. The accumulated salt in the roots disables the plant to collect nutrients and water from the soil that results in water stress for that area. Plants grow slower and emulate the type of growth in droughts, plants wilt and develop discoloration.

· Pollution

Plants get polluted if the water supplying them nutrients get certain ions, stunting plant growth and causing poisoning of entire fields. Leaves start to burn and interveinal chlorosis occurs. The ions that accumulate are chloride, sodium and boron. High amounts of these ions are not required, small amounts can cause enough damage. Damage can be immediately seen in leaf tips and edges. However, the degree of damage depends upon the exposure a plant has to the polluted waters.

· Water Infiltration Rate

The rate at which water enters your irrigation system is lowered when sodium levels are high and calcium levels are low. This can worsen when the amount of water being supplied itself is low, resulting in an even lower infiltration rate.

Importance of Water Quality

It is extremely important to have a healthy supply of water because it not only directly affects crop health and growth, the livestock on a farm too depends on the same water supply. To keep cattle healthy, the water they drink has an immeasurable impact on their health and performance. If the quality of water declines, the growth of your cattle and their appetite will be stunted.

Make sure to check the source of your water to produce healthy crops, healthy livestock and their byproducts. If you notice any sort of salinity, pollution or water infiltration problems, make sure to fix your irrigation system as soon as possible.


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