The importance of irrigation water quality in the agricultural sector 

Irrigation Water Quality

Agriculture is the most water-intensive activity in the world, accounting for 70% of water use. 

In this area, the quality of irrigation water is vital and has a direct influence on irrigation planning.

Water quality refers to the chemical and microbiological composition of water. 

There is a close relationship between the quality of the water used to irrigate crops and the quality of the harvest obtained (vegetables, legumes or fruit). If the water used in the crop is of good quality, we will avoid harmful effects on the soil, production and consumer health. 

Irrigation water quality analysis

Irrigation water quality and irrigation management are essential for successful crop production, affecting the yields of different types of crops. 

Therefore, it is essential to analyse the quality of the irrigation water before and during cultivation. In addition, in the case of high-cost crops or organic crops, these should be monitored in a special way.

Traditional approach

This consists of taking a small sample of water which is analysed to determine its composition and possible pollutants. 

Both physico-chemical and biological parameters are measured. 

We have to take a new sample, take it to the laboratory, wait for the results and then interpret them and act if there are problems. This takes too much time, does not allow us to react in time and is often not done as much as it should be.

The Water Biosense approach

Installing a Water Biosense system we will be able to monitor water quality continuously, in situ and remotely, without waiting, by detecting the agents of interest in irrigation water.

It is installed in the irrigation system and takes water samples automatically, analysing it with biosensors and generating reports that you can consult 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The most common parameters involved in the analysis of irrigation water quality are physicochemical parameters such as salinity, pH, hardness or alkalinity, which are directly involved in crop quality. 

But there are other crucial parameters to be determined in irrigation water, such as levels of pesticides, nutrients, presence of antibiotics and levels of micro-organisms of concern or presence of pest indicator agents, which can be critical for crop viability or quality.

The levels of organic matter in water, or of antibiotics, or of micro-organisms such as Escherichia coli, provide us with extremely important information for decision-making and yield improvement, knowing the tolerance limits to be established.

For all these reasons, it is very necessary to have continuous monitoring systems for irrigation water and to add value to our production.