Irrigation Update: Growers Opting for Dual Systems

by BRAD WEIHRAUCH
March 2014

A lot of factors affect a growers’ decision about how and when to irrigate,including cost, the available gallons per minute and required water use permits. Solutions are diverse, as diverse as the growers themselves.

But in recent years, water restrictions and environmental consciousness have led to the increased popularity of low-volume irrigation methods that target the root zone. Instead of sprinkling water over a broad area, the drip methods save water by delivering water, fertilizer, and even insecticides directly to the roots where it can be channeled to the plant’s vascular system.

As a result, a large number of growers have incorporated drip irrigation into their systems. But there’s a huge drawback with drip irrigation: It is ineffective at cold protection, something sprinklers have long excelled at.

So many growers now install a second pipe and valve system, giving them two irrigation systems they can alternate between at will. They can use the drip system to fertilize efficiently and save water when the temperatures are warm. When they need protection from freezes, they can open the valve on their second irrigation system, ensuring they have the cold protection they need to preserve their crops.

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