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Better water naturally

DELTA improves soil and salinity for SA irrigator

Posted on March 13, 2014

Western Flat farmer Mark Pridham turned to DELTA technology to tackle water quality issues on his irrigation land.

The potato, clover seed and lucerne grower is pretty happy with soil tests revealing the pH levels are continuing to either drop or hold steady on farm land watered with DELTA-treated supply despite several heavy irrigation seasons.

Mark started using the technology in 2009 on his farm in SA’s mid-southeast. He likes the results, he’s backed the technology and he’s now got four water conditioners installed on bore supply.  Almost 60 per cent of his land is now irrigated with DELTA-treated artesian water.

“I’ve still got more tests to do but I’m optimistic it’s all going to be positive. When you look at it now, I’ve got about 420 acres of pivot irrigation that’s not treated and about 600 acres that is. There are a lot of encouraging signs there,” Mark says.

Excess minerals and salt

DELTAwater solutions, a 100% Australian company based in Newcastle, has 20 years of proven success delivering water treatment technology solutions for a range of water problems across sectors including agricultural, industrial and domestic.

Company director Alex Panov says the company’s products, which are chemical free, maintenance free and power free, are finding favour among irrigators like Mark who are battling an excess of minerals and salt in their water supply.

Mark installed the first of his four DELTA conditioning units in late 2009. He hoped the units, which decrease surface tension of the water, would lead to better uptake of water into the sandy soil, increase the life of his irrigation pipes and equipment and reduce leaf burn.

While lucerne can handle his property’s alkaline water with its high levels of calcium carbonate, iron and sodium chloride, the high pH of up to 8.2 meant the soil was marginal for growing potatoes and clover seed despite winter-spring rain reducing the level to about 7.5. While crop rotations and added organic matter and clay helped counteract the problem, Mark turned to DELTA technology as another way to boost his crops.

“Straight away the infiltration improved, the water was soaking in a lot better on our undulating country with less run off and rutting in the wheel tracks,” Mark says.

Soil experts are eyeing Mark’s farm with interest. Soil tests show land that’s been irrigated for more than 10 years with untreated water has a pH of 7.5 before irrigation and up to 8.2 once the season’s finished.

“One of our units we’ve had for three seasons on old ground now, and soil tests came back as 7.2,” Mark says.

“That was after heavy irrigation and no autumn rain. In the old system I reckon that reading would have been closer to eight. I was hoping for 7.5 so 7.2 was really encouraging.

“And a rough pH test I did myself indicated it was neutral (7.0) at worst. I’ll definitely be watching closely the results of more tests ”

Despite summer temperatures up to 45 degrees and no rain, Mark’s clover and potato crops have returned solid yields after the past heavy irrigation season.

The SA farmer is also positive about soil tests on new irrigation ground, first watered with DELTA-treated supply several years ago. The land recorded a pH level of 5.6 before the centre pivots first began turning and the farmer expected the level to shoot skywards in a similar fashion to the rest of the farm.

“But it’s showing a pH level of about six and that’s absolutely fantastic for sub-clover and potato production,” Mark says.

“I expected that ground to go up to 7.5 or eight with water quality. And with the DELTA unit I put in last winter, I’ve grown a crop of spuds on it with yield average to above average and really good quality.”

Soil scientist

Mark is not the only one watching soil and crop results on land under DELTA’s touch. A WA-based soil scientist is tracking his results with great interest and believes DELTA technology will slowly decrease old irrigation ground’s high pH levels. Mark hopes a few more years of testing will prove the scientist right.

The farmer’s encouraging soil results are also attracting interest from within SA and interstate. Agronomists from SA’s primary industries department and WA and a group of lucerne seed growers are keenly waiting to see what future tests reveal.

Mark knows his good yields aren’t down to DELTA alone. But he’s sure the technology is part of the solution.

“It’s also helped reduce the scale build up in pipes and it’s got to have helped with the friction loss,” he says. “We’ve broken the surface tension of the water so we’re getting very good penetration in the soil too.”

Mark knows what a lower pH level means to his property. It signals healthier crops, improved weed control and better fertiliser delivery to plants. And he believes DELTA is delivering the goods.

“We’re happy with the way things are going,” he says.