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Micro-sprinklers have long been used to provide climate control and irrigate fruit, nut and cover crops. Now, micro-sprinklers can be used as part of an integrated pest management (IPM) plan in row crops, as well. By placing a grid of micro-sprinklers above the crop and operating it a few times a week, dust is washed off the leaves and humidity is increased – suppressing harmful pests and encouraging beneficial insects. For example, mites and spider mites favor hot, dusty environments, whereas beneficial predatory insects, such as persimilis, thrive best where humidity levels are between 60 to 90 percent. By applying a light application of water to the crop several times a week, dust, mites and webbing are washed off while the resulting increased humidity encourages beneficial predator species. Continue reading
Click the links below to explore our archive of drip irrigation “how to” literature, drip irrigation basics, and case studies by crop. These real-world applications show why drip is the most efficient irrigation method that not only saves water, but also improves yield and crop quality. Continue reading
Another season has passed, and Bob McKellip is happy to report that his second year of utilizing drip irrigation on mint was even better than the first. “This Spring, I started up the drip system and everything worked perfectly,” explains McKellip. “I have found that the system is very simple and easy to operate once it’s set-up, and that its just like any other piece of modern farm equipment. With drip, I easily spoon fed my crop with the water and fertilizer it needed on a weekly basis, and harvested unheard of yields on second-year mint – 188 pounds of mint oil per acre!”
McKellip noted that this was achieved in spite of record heat, minimal rainfall, and variable soils with differing water holding capacities. “With drip, I was able to fine tune the irrigation schedule to accommodate different soil types and get more water where it was needed.”
As a result, not only were yields boosted, but water and fertilizer use was down as well. Continue reading
One of our drip irrigation experts recently wrote an article for Progressive Forage Grower magazine about subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) for alfalfa and other field crops. The article introduces the origins and benefits of SDI, compares SDI to other irrigation technologies (such as gravity, sprinkler, and pivot irrigation), and presents recent SDI case studies.
For the full article, click here to Continue reading
The first three Idaho farmers to use a drip irrigation system on mint fields reported mostly favorable results after the second season, but they did face a few problems with the new practice.
As a result, the Idaho Mint Commission is financing a three-year trial at University of Idaho’s Parma research station to further refine the practice.
Nampa farmer Robert McKellip, who last year was the first Idaho farmer to put mint on a drip system, said he used about 2 feet of water per acre on the 56-acre field this year, compared with the typical 5 acre-feet for a field that is furrow irrigated.
He said he also used a lot less fertilizer and yields were great.
“I’m really pleased with it,” said McKellip, president of the Idaho Mint Growers Association.
McKellip said the drip system proved its worth this year on water savings alone. The 2013 growing season in the Treasure Valley was marked by a tight water supply that caused several irrigation districts to shut off water a month early
If all farms in the valley switched to drip, “we’d never, ever have another drought,” he said. “I”m using less water on my mint drip system than I’d use during a drought year.” Continue reading
As the worst drought in 50 years gripped America’s farmland in the summer of 2012, and crop failure was rampant, three Nebraska producers reported increased soybean yields and significantly lower water use at the same time by using Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI) to deliver water and nutrients directly to the roots of their crops. This was in contrast to the typical practice of applying water to the surface with gravity or sprinkler irrigation systems. In addition to improved yields and resource use efficiency (RUE), other benefits cited included an improved ability to farm in drought conditions, improved flexibility and improved convenience. In each of these case studies, the producer found SDI a worthwhile investment. Continue reading
California cotton growers and water-starved fields could benefit from a conservation tillage practice not typical to this Golden State cash crop, although the practice is widely implemented and accepted elsewhere in the United States.
At Lucero Farms in Firebaugh, Calif., the decision this spring to implement no-till practices on cotton planted in western Fresno County seems a good one given a 20-percent water allocation via the State Water Project. Continue reading
In this Boise, ID news report, local grower, Bob McKellip shares how drip irrigation has helped him irrigate peppermint more efficiently. Plus, it helps preserve the Boise River. Click here to watch the video.
Larry Standage has reaped all the typical benefits of converting to drip irrigation with his onions in Vale, Oregon, including increased yields, reduced runoff, and less use of water, fertilizer, and labor. But the most important benefit is that Standage builds customer loyalty as a result of a higher quality, more uniform crop.
“Each 50 pound bag of onions is superior becuse the crop is more uniform in size, shape, and color, thus the customer is more pleased. I use drip to keep my customers coming back,” says Larry. Continue reading
Row crop growers were among the first farmers to adopt drip irrigation as a production tool rather than to save water. Initially, drip was viewed as a superior way to manipulate plant growth and quality by precisely managing water and fertilizer after germination or plant set. Sprinklers are commonly used to germinate vegetable seed or set vegetable transplants, and in some cases, are still used today to irrigate throughout the crop cycle. But with water, labor, energy, fumigation, organic, and food safety issues becoming more important each day, growers are finding that drip provides real solutions, and may be used for much more than just irrigation after plant establishment.
“With drip, I’m not applying water in-between the beds, so weed growth is greatly reduced. With sprinklers, weeds germinate everywhere and I am forced to hand weed, which is expensive,” says Frank Estrada, Area Manager for Reiter Berry Farms in Watsonville, California. “We stopped using sprinklers over three years ago for anything except pre-irrigation prior to bed prep.”
Even before the perfect storm of diminished water supplies, rising corn prices and government cost-share funding hit the plains, Steven Cox knew his irrigated farms would have to change. That’s why he installed his first subsurface drip irrigation system over nine years ago on his 4,000 acre operation, and has installed an additional 120 acres of drip irrigation since.
The conversion has allowed him to stretch limited water supplies while increasing yields and gain quality at the same time. “Before drip, we were trying to flood irrigate 60 acres with a 250 GPM well. We were lucky to get top yields on 25 percent of the field. I now get top yields on 100 percent of the field because of the increased uniformity and efficiency I get with drip.” Continue reading
Chuck Herrin manages Worth Farms in California’s Westlands Water District. Founded by his grandfather, a custom harvester turned farmer, Worth Farms today grows 4,500 acres of drip irrigated crops including 3,500 acres of processing tomatoes.
“Our best-ever yield on conventional sprinkler/gravity acreage was 64 tons/acre in 2004. five years later, we are achieving 50-100% increases in yields with drip, and an overall average of 65 tons/acre operation wide. On top of that, water, labor, fertilizer, and herbicide savings are substantial. We used to apply 36 inches of water per acre to meet a crop ET of about 18 inches. Now, we only apply 24 inches of water, a 33% savings. At the same time, we have cut labor use by half, and fertilizer use by a third. This is significant.” Continue reading