Less than half of the UK's irrigated area has an irrigation schedule and growers must do more to maximise water use efficiency.
That was the message from Cambridge University Farms' Mark Stalham, speaking at the Scottish Agricultural College's annual potato producers' conference near Perth (25 Jan).
"Things haven't really changed much since the 1970s & 80s and it [not scheduling irrigation] will not be allowed under the Water Framework Directive.
We have to better understand crop demand for water and maximise the quantity and rate of water extraction from the soil."
The timing and amount of irrigation fundamentally depends on the soil moisture deficit (SMD) - the balance between water loss (via evapotranspiration, drainage and run-off) and water inputs (rain, irrigation, run-on and capillary rise), he explained.
Ideally, the deficit should be minimised to allow adequate water availability, even on hot days.
Vía Farmers Weekly.