What is irrigation?

Irrigation systems offer an effective artificial way of supplying water to your crops that do not have easy access to rainwater. This means that water is applied to crops using pipes, sprinklers and by other means to ensure that they are being watered properly and regularly.

When you invest in a polytunnel, you can protect your plants and produce from the elements, giving you the opportunity to extend growing times and introduce crops outside of traditional sowing periods. However, while shielding your crops from the weather can be a good thing, it also means they will require suitable irrigation to keep them watered.

So, whether you’re planning your fruit or want to focus on veg, read on to get an in-depth look at irrigation and the methods you can use to make sure you have a healthy harvest this year.

What is soil irrigation?

Soil irrigation is where you look at how your choice of soil is impacted by irrigation. While it’s crucial that you choose the right soil for the crops growing in your polytunnel, it’s also important to consider how the irrigation methods you use can have an influence on how it behaves.

By selecting the right soil and teaming it with an irrigation method that complements it, you’re sure to find that your crops will flourish. Here’s a look at how irrigation impacts on two of the main soil types that you’re likely to use:  

Clay soil

Clay soil can be tricky when you’re ready to plant your crops out. This is because it is hard when dry and slippery when wet.

So, while you might have a comprehensive irrigation system in place, a clay-based soil will slowly soak up the water and keep it there. If you’re planting in this type of soil, you’ll need crops that require a lot of stored water. Slowly apply the water and, once it has soaked through, you’ll find that you won’t need to apply more every day because of how well water is retained.  

Sandy soil

Sandy soil behaves differently to clay soil. This soil is easy to use for planting because it responds well to immediate watering. Water moves quickly through but isn’t stored, so you’ll need to irrigate quickly and in short bursts. This means you’ll have to keep returning to the irrigation process to make sure your crops are responding well in the sandier soil.

Irrigation.jpgWhat irrigation methods to use in your Polytunnel

Once you know what soils you’ll be using, you can then start thinking about the different types of irrigation that you might like to include in your polytunnel. The method you go with will depend on the size of your polytunnel as much as the soil type that you’re using.

We have polytunnels in sizes from 6ft right up to 30ft, giving you the opportunity to tailor your irrigation system to suit the one you choose. We also have a range of irrigation equipment so that you can be sure that your crops are perfectly hydrated. This equipment includes:

Overhead irrigation pipes

Pipes and fittings form the nuts and bolts of any irrigation system. Whether you want a no-nonsense sprinkler system, or you would like to adapt your water delivery system with a tube, pipes and fittings, you have the option to design your own irrigation plan.

Tap-Timer.JPGTap timer

If you can’t tend to your crops daily, or even weekly, a tap timer allows you to get water to your fruit and vegetables when they need it. This simple device can make it possible for you to go on holiday, safe in the knowledge that water is getting to your crops.  

Overhead manual irrigation kits

These manual irrigation kits are a series of sprinklers that attach to the roof of your polytunnel. You simply connect the water delivery pipe to your garden hose and apply the water to the plants that need it at intervals that suit you.

Premier automatic irrigation kits

This operates like the manual version; however, you can team it with the tap timer to set an irrigation programme to suit you and your crops. You can set up this system and leave it to run without having to return to your crops daily.

Know your irrigation

Whatever irrigation methods you opt for, you’ll find that the one you choose will help your fruit and veg to flourish while continuing to protect them from the elements inside their polytunnel. To find out more about the different ways to irrigate your crops as well as discovering construction guides, visit our dedicated section here

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