A better crop drop by drop

The benefits of drip irrigation in citrus


Due to the ongoing water shortage and the need for improved production, the use of drip irrigation in orchards is increasing at a rapid pace. Citrus crops can withstand drought stress better than other subtropical trees and thus have lower water requirements. That said, it is important to choose the correct irrigation system for your specific crop. Citrus crops require an approach which includes the application of fertilizers through the irrigation system, and the controlling of water and mineral availability. With drip irrigation there is quite a variety of dripper pipe choices available, and it is important to keep certain factors in mind, such as climate (water requirements), soil type, topography (flat or steep), the nature of your water source, etc. Drip irrigation needs a high level of management with well-trained employees. With effective Irrigation scheduling, water can be given accurately and timeously to the crop to ensure increased crop yields.

Micro sprinklers or drip?

Let’s take one of our clients as an example. They are farming in the Swartland District between Malmesbury and Moorreesburg against the slopes of the mountains. They’ve done a couple of trials including micro sprinklers and drip irrigation and found that drip is a better fit. With the micro sprinklers they had a huge problem with water running away and the roots not receiving sufficient water to enable optimal growth. With the decision made, they’ve started off with a heavy-duty compensating dripper which is ideal for the steep uphill environment. Our technical advisor Johan Kemp recommended the use of a Vered 2.3 litre per hour dripper with a spacing of 0.75m, using only one line on the ground next to the young trees. In the second year, another line was added on the other side of the trees to ensure sufficient water.

Depending on your water source, there is always a chance of emitter clogging and therefore your irrigation system needs a good filtration system. In our example above, the client decided to use a Filtomat M100 automatic hydraulic filter with a self-cleaning mechanism and a 130 micron screen, which is sufficient for their filtration needs. They make use of water coming from the mountain and borehole water as well as water drawn from the Bergrivier River. When making use of drip irrigation, it is very important to pay careful attention to filtration. When this is done correctly, your irrigation system will require less maintenance.

With the drip irrigation system, an automated high-tech fertigation system was installed, which enables the crop to be fertilized with every irrigation session on a daily basis.

The farmers could also make use of block valves to assist with the opening, closing and pressure regulation of the irrigation system. The block valves can be controlled via wired or wireless options.

Our friendly, fully qualified technical advisors at Agriplas will gladly assist you with your irrigation needs, whether it be irrigation, filtration, fertigation or automation.

Head office 021 9177177 /

www.agriplas.co.za/ sales@agriplas.co.za

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Issue 42


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