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Good irrigation management is vital to achieve efficient use of water combined with high yields and quality in vegetable crops. Irrigation also has a direct influence on factors such as pack out percentage, shelf life and aesthetic or visual appearance of the product.

Irrigation application rate and timing depends on the moisture content in the root zone and the rate of water losses (evapotranspiration) from the plant and soil.

Evaporation + Transpiration = Evapotranspiration (ET), Soil texture and structure, root depth, crop characteristics and climate are the main factors influencing the amount of water available to the plant. Therefore, effective irrigation is crucial to eliminating over or underwatering, which can both reduce the yield and cause salinity and waterlogging problems.

Management of Vegetable crop Irrigation
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There are many reasons for improving irrigation management including:

Growing better crops Providing crops with optimum soil water reduces exposure to periods of waterlogging and dryness, thus maximising crop growth and fruit quality. Too little water can be as problematic as overwatering. For example, moisture stress in lettuce during head formation can result in tip burn, while in tomatoes blossom end rot will result if the crop is stressed in early fruit set. Too much water can cause root rot in most vegetables.

Reduce pest and disease problems

Avoiding over irrigation minimises waterlogging, salinity, leaching of nutrients and chemicals, and rising watertables.

Protect the value of the farm Salinity, high water-tables and soil degradation reduce productivity and the value of land. Increase overall crop production Improved irrigation efficiency may provide surplus irrigation water, which can be used to grow additional crops or sold to other enterprises.

Reduce production costs Efficient irrigation means applying the right amount of water at the right time. Making sure the crop uses all water applied and avoiding system losses and wastage through run-off or drainage.

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