If you want an edge in the lucerne market, you need to increase yield and quality, and lower costs. Enter precision irrigation.
Lucerne is a water-intensive, perennial crop with a deep root system and unique demands. Even a little stress caused by too much or too little water will have a very negative effect on growth, development and overall stand quality. That’s why unpredictable climates and wasteful irrigation will not do – you need consistency, not vulnerability to over or undernourishment.
Precision irrigation gives you total control over the lucerne root-zone through subsurface irrigation (SDI). Water and nutrients are delivered directly to the root-zone of each plant. SDI fits onto any plot, and can be applied to all topographies, field sizes and soil types. You can maintain optimal soil moisture and nutrient levels in all conditions, across the entire lucerne field.
If you add digital solutions to your system, you’ll be able to monitor and optimise irrigation and Nutrigation™ in real-time throughout the growing season. Gain data about every aspect of the field and local climate. Wherever you are, whatever the circumstances are, you can ensure consistently high yield and quality every season -nd even bigger profits.
Why should I choose precision irrigation over other, cheaper methods?
It’s true that precision irrigation isn’t the most affordable method. It does however ensure higher yields and a better-quality crop - every season, in a range of challenging environments, using minimal resources.
As lucerne is such a thirsty, sensitive crop you’ll want to avoid wasting water and nutrients through methods such as flood or pivot irrigation. Not just because those methods deplete your resources – it also throws them on the soil without directing them to plant roots, which jeopardises the uniformity of your crops.
• How much will precision irrigation cost per hectare?
The price depends on three aspects. First, how you’ll get water from the source to the field. Second, peak crop water demand, which is governed by climate conditions and crop canopy cover. And finally, soil type, which will determine emitter spacing. To give you a quote for cost per unit area, our agronomists would need to assess these factors, among others. Get in touch so we can get started.
Should I use surface or subsurface drip irrigation on my lucerne?
Subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) systems are most suitable for lucerne production. Compared with on-surface systems, SDI delivers additional benefits such as lower labour requirements, protection from machinery interference, and enhanced water-use efficiency. SDI systems also favour modern tillage practices such as no-till or minimum tillage.
If I have a lot of rainfall, will drip still be a good investment?
Definitely. While having ample rainfall is obviously a huge advantage, the major disadvantage is that rainfall doesn’t allow you to control and optimise nutrient delivery.
With precision irrigation, nutrient delivery is targeted, dosed in controlled quantities according to the plants’ needs, to maintain consistent crop health and quality throughout. The concept is called ‘precision Nutrigation™’, and it’s a core feature of every precision irrigation system.
Precision irrigation works just as well on uneven topographies. All you need is to install pressure-compensated (PC) dripperlines in the system, so water and nutrients are delivered to each plant with uniform flow rates – across the entire field.
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