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Grow more with less (water)

24 Jul 2018

Netafim innovation helps optimise water management.

THE DROUGHT IN THE WESTERN CAPE HAS FORCED GRAPE FARMERS TO RETHINK THE WAY THEY IRRIGATE THEIR CROPS.  BY ANTON PRETORIUS

South African wine farmers know all too well climate is the one thing they can’t control when predicting a crop yield. Too little or too much rain, heat and humidity all have an impact on crops and ultimately on profits.

The efficient use of water is one of the biggest challenges in areas worldwide where there are water shortages and problems with the collection and delivery of water.

“The ongoing drought and water shortages in the Western Cape have resulted in producers becoming increasingly conscious about optimal water management,” says Etienne Erasmus, managing director of Netafim which specialises in smart drip and micro-irrigation solutions.

Agriculture is allocated the largest portion of South Africa’s available fresh water and about 63% of the allocated water is used for irrigation.

“In the past producers tended to over-irrigate their crops and little consideration was given to effective water management,” Etienne says. “However the drought crisis has made producers more aware of their water consumption and the goal now is to achieve optimal water management and boost productivity while improving food quality.”

Western Cape wine producers generally tend to be more educated about optimal water usage compared with other agriculture producers across the country, Etienne says. “A total of 65% of area under grape vine in South Africa use drip irrigation, which is huge. They’re familiar with the benefits of this irrigation method and are more conscious about saving water.”

Netafim’s managing director Etienne Erasmus and marketing manager Willem Botha.DROP BY DROP

Netafim plays a major role in efficient water management in two areas: firstly as producers of drip irrigation systems, and secondly having experienced staff with in-depth knowledge about the successful use of drip irrigation systems.

It’s commonly known that the drip irrigation method is a lot more effective than other irrigation methods. Netafim International introduced the first commercial dripper in 1966 and it has been the company’s primary focus ever since.

Etienne has been the MD of Netafim for the past 12 years, but has a long track record of working in the irrigation industry. “Our offering is not solely product-based, but is also about the experience we offer,” he says. Netafim does not sell directly to the public, but does provide producers with a advisory service. A team of 25 experts ensure the products are used correctly for optimum return on investment.

WHAT LIES BENEATH THE SURFACE?

According to several studies, drip irrigation can save up to 30% water when compared to other irrigation methods like micro-sprinklers or overhead irrigation systems. “Water loss due to evaporation, mist, surface runoff or wind interference is virtually eliminated,” Etienne says. “We’ve done extensive research and
development to lower the flow rates of drippers and still to have good clogging resistance. We’ve done extensive research and development to determine the flow rate. With slower application rates, the water infiltrates the ground more effectively, without any unnecessary run-off. At 0.7 litre/hour our drip irrigation systems allow water to be dispensed more efficiently into the ground.”

Netafim’s drip irrigation not only saves water, but also electricity. “The flow rate of our drip irrigation system has been specifically designed to accommodate all our client’s requirements – no matter the type of soil or topography,” Etienne says.

“With our drip irrigation system, producers save 25% on water and fertiliser and see a 25% improvement on their returns,” Etienne says.

NETAFIM’S VINEYARD IRRIGATION METHODS

ON-THE-WIRE
The most common vineyard drip-irrigation application based on a dripline suspended 30-50 cm above the ground along the trunk line.

SURFACE
Simple, cost-effective and versatile, especially with chemical weed control under the vine.

SUBSURFACE
The most advanced, aesthetic, reliable, precise and efficient vineyard irrigation drip technique based on an integrated dripper line buried 25-30 cm under
the soil. Laterals are protected from damage caused by vandalism, weather or machinery. Evaporation water loss is reduced and water is applied precisely to the centre of each plant’s roots.

WINELAND COVER PAGE PROMOTION – NETAFIM
PICTURES: SUPPLIED


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