However, one essential component of all your chemical applications might be the most commonly overlooked on many farms – the water you use as a carrier. Where does your water come from? Do you source your water from a water treatment facility or do you pump what you need from your well? Have you ever tested your water for pH or any impurities that might affect product effectiveness? We ask these questions because water quality could be the most important piece of the puzzle you’re missing.
For example, here’s something to consider if you are using water from a water treatment facility. What do they put in the water to make it compliant with drinking standards? Chlorine! Why do they use chlorine? It kills any microorganisms that are in water to keep it safe for consumption. For the past three years, the growing buzz in agriculture has been around biological products. Say you add one of these biological products to your application plan and include it with the water on your farm. If you have chlorine-treated water, your chance of success with biological products is significantly reduced. Our tests have shown a 30% drop in biological spore counts after less than one hour in solution! After three hours, the biologicals showed zero activity. They were completely dead!!! The chlorine in the water did exactly what it was supposed to do – kill all microorganisms! If this is a problem you face, what can you do about it?
Your best bet is to use water-conditioning agents. Bio-Prep from Hefty Seed Company is designed specifically to address neutralizing chlorine in your water source. Adding just 2 ounces per 100 gallons of water takes the chlorine from the water and converts it to chloride. This makes it safe for you to then add biological components to your applications and take advantage of their benefits on your farm. The best part? It only costs pennies per acre to ensure your biologicals won’t be harmed.
If your water source isn’t facility-treated, don’t think you’re in the clear. Many wells have tested for high levels of copper and other metals that are harmful to biologicals. Specifically, copper is a natural disinfectant and is nearly as harmful to biological components as chlorine. Think about areas of standing water on your farm that have algae blooms. What can you apply to correct the problem? Copper sulfate.
Finally, another problem we’ve identified in our well water testing is that many water sources are high in pH. For example, the well water on the Hefty farm has a pH of nearly 8.0. The two major culprits that affect pH are calcium and magnesium, and both of these elements directly impact how well fertility can perform. If you’re attempting to add micronutrients to a water source that’s high in calcium or magnesium, chances are pretty high that those micros will get tied up before the plant can even break them down. How many times have you made a foliar application and not seen a result on your farm? Turning to herbicides, while you may have thought “I have resistant weeds”, do you actually just have poor spray water? Calcium, magnesium, and other nutrients can negatively affect herbicide performance. Moving forward, testing your water and correcting it should be the first thing you consider in your applications.
Addressing the problem of negating contaminants and high pH can be accomplished with another type of water-conditioning agent. Water-Rite is anotherproduct that will do just that. Adding 8 oz. per 100 gallons of water helps tie up and neutralize metals, calcium, and magnesium in your water. Water-Rite works because it is a mild chelator, and it chemically bonds to these ions in water so your biologicals, herbicides, and micronutrients have a better chance of entering the plant and being successful in applications. If you have well water or water that is high in pH, every application you make should have Water-Rite in the tank. It’s a very inexpensive option to help correct these issues on your farm and make the products you’ve paid for work as intended!
Anytime you make an application on your farm that has biologicals, foliar micronutrients, or even herbicides, the water you use in that application is critical to the success of those products. Make sure you have an understanding of where your water comes from and everything that comes with it. Test your water source for chlorine content, pH, metals, and other contaminants. After all, water is more than just water. If you find your water is the problem, you can adjust accordingly when building your plan for the year and give all the products you use on your farm their best chance for success.