Editor: With the growing concern (pun intended) over deep-water wells for potato irrigation, I thought I’d give my two cents worth. Big potato farmers want to dig deep-water wells for irrigating their fields in dry weather. See the irony here? When the weather is dry, and they want to use deep wells, this is the worst time to do that to our water table. This is why regular folks want to see the deep wells stopped.
So, in the hopes of making both sides happy, and help with the problem of all the snow removal this winter, here’s my suggestion: collect the snow in winter and save it. Now before you suggest a frontal lobotomy, have a look at my numbers. I’m going to use both measurement systems here, since many people are still using acres but most weather reports give rain in millimetres and snow in centimetres.
One centimetre of snow on a one-acre field is the equivalent of just over 4,000 litres of water. The average P.E.I. snowfall (according to the government’s website) is 285 cm. That is 1.23 million litres of water per acre or 12 acre-inches. Irrigation studies measure crop water requirements in acre-inches. A typical potato crop needs about 27 acre-inches of water in a growing season. So collecting the snow from these fields would supply almost half the crop’s moisture requirements.
So, I figured I would apply for a government grant to study this; how much equipment needed to remove the snow (snowblower, dump truck, augers, etc.), labour requirements and costs to melt and store it in tanks so the water can be filtered before use in irrigation. Most farms already have a lot of this equipment and probably lots of empty livestock barns that could be converted to storage. If you know which government department I should apply to for my grant, please let me know.
Sound crazy? Not half as crazy as some of the dumb studies I’ve seen get big funding around here in the past 20 to 30 years.