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Shade fabrics – could they be used to help prevent water loss?

The short answer is Yes!


Water is most commonly lost through evaporation. A great way to prevent water loss, especially in the hot summer months, is by blocking the sun. This becomes especially important for farmers and growers who want the highest yield from their crops. If the growing conditions become too hot, or too dry due to drought, a large portion of the crops can be lost if the grower is unable to keep enough water present for the plants.



Explanation of evaporation affect on plants


There are a few ways growers can help maintain moisture for their soil: ground cover fabrics and shade structures.


Ground cover is an established solution for keeping soil wet around the roots of the plants. Irrigation lines can be run under the ground cover, if desired. Woven PP designed for multi-year use and high strength, can help protect those lines while making it easy if crops are turned over every year. Woven PP ground cover, can easily be rolled up and re-used as needs change. Also, if needs expand beyond water retention in soil, into coloring of produce, white ground cover provides double duty


Shade fabric can help prevent water loss, by blocking some of the sunlight from hitting the

ground underneath it. The water evaporation rate drops, keeping the soil wet for a longer period of time. Since shade is installed above the plants, it can be left in place for any grower who wants to turnover their plots.


Shade balls preventing water evaporation in the LA Reservoir

The principle of using shade to prevent water loss was put to the test in 2015 when black polypropylene shade balls were put in an LA reservoir to help reduce water loss through evaporation. Why Did L.A. Drop 96 Million ‘Shade Balls’ Into Its Water?(nationalgeographic.com).


In addition, some growers that take advantage of the earth’s natural resources through rain collection systems, can find shade fabric useful. Depending on where the bin is kept, it could be exposed to quite a bit of sunlight and heat, thus causing some of the water to evaporate. To prevent this evaporation, the water reduction from the sun/ heat, the polypropylene shade balls (like in the article and on a smaller scale), or knitted or woven shade panels can be affordable solutions to a possibly expensive challenge.


Additional resources:



One of the most efficient techniques to prevent evaporation is suspended shade covers, reported to reduce evaporation up to 85%” -https://eprints.usq.edu.au/8917/

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