The crunch is on to find new ways to improve the impact of water applied by irrigation so that every drop — or in the case of two new technologies, drip — counts.
Roots make demands
Getting water to plants only when they need it would be ideal irrigation, and that’s the idea behind Root Demand Irrigation from Valley Irrigation. The subsurface system will water fields without the need for an emitter.
Darren Siekman, general manager, Valley, explains that the system uses familiar connections and pipes for delivering water at the beginning, and you can see a difference. Water “weeps” through a permeable material that allows the water to seep into the soil as needed. He adds that you bury lines about 10 to 16 inches deep, depending on your tillage system, and you’re ready to go.
Once online the system remains under constant, but low, pressure through the season. Siekman explains that this creates a kind of equilibrium between soil pressure and water pressure. As roots grow, however, that pressure changes, “opening up” the soil, which allows water to flow in.
Another advantage of this system is the ability to place it in irregular fields, where center-pivot systems may not be easy to deploy. “A traditional system might use 40 hp to provide water to the same area that this system can do using about 7.5 hp,” Siekman explains. Cost of the system is about $2,200 to cover 20 acres — and targeting difficult-to-water areas would be the management approach to starting out with the system.
Drip from a pivot
What if you could turn your center pivot into a drip irrigation system? That’s the idea behind Precision Mobile Drip Irrigation from T-L Irrigation and Netafim. T-L actually introduced the concept back in 2001.
Dave Thom, vice president of sales, T-L, explains that he was inspired by the low-energy precision application systems that were becoming popular in the Southwest, where drought is a problem. The idea of attaching drip lines from the drops of an irrigation pivot was born when Thom saw how they were saving money and water with low-energy precision application.
But back in 2001 it didn’t catch. “We were ahead of the curve back then,” Thom says. “But times are changing and water efficiency needs are rising.”
And that brings PMDI back to market. The partnership with Netafim brings the drip technology to the pivot. Pivot owners would extend a drip line from each nozzle on the pivot to the ground. The lines get longer the farther the nozzle is from the center of the pivot. At the outer ends, those lines can be up to 60 feet long.
Thom says there’s no trouble with pivots dragging those lines through a field. He adds that with this system, “you don’t get the water collection issues you often see with LEPA systems.” The PMDI system delivers a consistent level of water at low pressure.
The system works in both circle-planted and straightplanted crops. “In straight-planted crops, the lines just find their natural track as the pivot moves through the field,” he notes. “You get the benefit of drip irrigation from your pivot.”
(Source – http://farmindustrynews.com/precision-farming/retooling-drip-irrigation-technology)