Drip irrigation is a mainstream technology in dozens of other crop production systems throughout the world because it allows producers to evenly spoon-feed precious water and nutrients directly to every plant’s root zone despite variable soil conditions, undulating terrain, odd field dimensions or long lengths of run. But potato producers have been slower to adopt drip since there are significant changes in bed configuration, agronomic decisions, and planting and harvesting equipment that go along with this technology.
Despite these challenges, cutting-edge producers, suppliers, and researchers are coming up with viable answers in hopes of bolstering the potato industry against the inevitable vagaries of the market, economy, costs, and resource availability, and are discovering significant benefits in adopting drip irrigation for potato production.
Some benefits of drip irrigation on potatoes include:
- Increased yields
- Increased percentage of U.S. No. 1’s
- Reduced diseases and fungicide usage
- Improved water use efficiency
- Reduced irrigation water runoff
- Spoon-fed water and fertilizers
- Accelerated row closure and harvest
- Reduced fuel usage
- Reduced early vine die-off
- Easily automated systems