Water is in continuous movement on, above, and below the surface of the earth. As water is recycled through the earth, it picks up many things along its path. Water quality will vary from place to place, with the seasons, and with the various kinds of rock and soil it moves through.
For the most part, it is largely natural processes that affect water quality. For instance, water moving through underground rocks and soils may pick up natural contaminants, even with no human activity or pollution in the area. In addition to nature's influence, water is also polluted by human activities, such as open defecation, dumping garbage, poor agricultural practices, and chemical spills at industrial sites.
Even though water may be clear, it does not necessarily mean that it is safe for consumption or agricultural use. There are three qualities to take into consideration when judging water quality or safety:
All agricultural water should be safe and sanitary for its intended use. Particularly, the quality of the water being used by farmers to irrigate their fields is an extremely important factor. Irrigation water contains organic and inorganic compounds that influence plant health, soil health and structure, and irrigation system longevity.
The University of the West Indies – Agro-Environmental Services (UWI-AES) is therefore very excited about offering the WQT package, designed to primarily help agricultural irrigation users (in particular row crop and vegetable farmers, specialty crop growers, and turfgrass managers) understand how to collect a representative water sample based on the source and prepare it for transport to our laboratory for analyses.
Our Water Quality Testing (WQT) basic package is therefore also being offered to assess for pH, EC and TSS, which are arguably the top 3 key quality indicators for agricultural water (irrigation, fertigation, hydroponics, etc.). Anyone can therefore independently request this testing package, which will also be rated along with recommendations in the reports.
The water quality rating (WQR) is a qualitative assessment of the water quality at a given site and enables comparisons between conditions at plot, field or watershed level under different land uses and management practices. The WQR range goes from 0 – 10, with 10 being the highest quality, that represents the average rating for all the tests.