Open Arms of Minnesota

Irrigation at Open Farms

By Ben Penner, Farm Director

When hot weather hits, it is critical that plants in the garden (not to mention the people working in the garden!) get enough timely moisture to grow properly for an abundant harvest. At Open Farms we irrigate using two different systems: drip irrigation (preferred) and sprinkler irrigation (when necessary).

Sprinkler irrigation has the benefit of covering a wide area quickly, but some water never gets to the plant because the water is lofted high in the air with some of it evaporating before it gets to the soil. Additional water is lost because it covers the entire area rather than precisely down the row. We primarily use our sprinklers on crops where it would be hard to irrigate each and every row (lettuce mix, for example).

Drip irrigation takes some time and expertise to install, but once it is installed it puts the water exactly where the plants need it. We use “T-Tape,” also known as “Drip Tape,” which is flexible oval-shaped plastic tubing with slits cut every 12”. When connected to a water source it emits ½ gallon of water every minute per 100’ of tape. If that sounds just a bit technical, well, it is, but basically it gets the water out there, and that is what a farmer or gardener wants.

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