Given its high level of efficiency, drip irrigation is often seen as a near-magical irrigation solution. The installation of drip irrigation comes with expectations of skyrocketing yields with minimal water use. These are, of course, not empty expectations, but are dependent on suitable water availability, the selection of the drip irrigation system best suited for your circumstances, correct installation, smart scheduling and faithful maintenance.
With drip irrigation, dripperlines are installed in the field or orchard, either on-surface or subsurface. Drippers are spaced along the dripperline at a certain spacing. This spacing is determined by the requirements of the crop, plant spacing, and the width and depth-wetting ratio determined by the soil’s physical traits. Tailormade spacings are possible to make the system suitable to the conditions. The dripper is selected with a specific flow rate suited to the crop and conditions. Each dripper delivers water and nutrients to the root zone of each plant in the orchard or field.
The concept of drip irrigation was introduced to the global irrigation industry in the 1960s, and ever since massive strides have been made in drip technology. Today, drippers are designed to overcome challenges such sloping fields, challenging water quality, root intrusion and more.
The development of drippers has seen a gradual decrease in the flow rates maintained by drippers, as the industry moves to low-flow drip irrigation. We’ve learned that the traditional application of drip irrigation often means that water delivery is too fast and too deep. Low-flow drip irrigation is increasingly being used and has shown how some crops can really perform. Netafim defines low-flow drip irrigation as irrigation systems in which drippers with delivery rates of 1ℓ/hour and lower are used.
We can now accommodate lower flow rates in drippers without fear of dripper clogging, as Netafim’s low-flow drip technology makes it possible to implement low flow rates, while maintaining clog resistant flow-path dimensions. This is made possible by the patented TurbuNet™ and TurbuNext™ turbulent labyrinths with a much better turbulence coefficient. These labyrinths maintain a unique geometric tooth-shaped structure that increases turbulence, enabling the creation of wider, deeper and shorter passages.
Click here watch a video to learn what sets these labyrinths apart.
“Many South African farmers are convinced that we cannot supply our crops with enough water using low-flow drip irrigation. It is important that we change our way of thinking as an industry, to accommodate new technology and practices. Once we fall behind, we will not be able to catch up again,” warns Jovan. An outcome of low-flow drip technology has been the Centralized Low Flow Drip Fertigation. (Click here to read more about this concept.)