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Why Field Crop Growers Love Drip Irrigation: Alfalfa, Corn, Cotton, Onions, Potatoes and Processing Tomatoes

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2010 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 20 - June 23, 2010  1008764.(doi:10.13031/2013.29724)
Authors:   Inge Bisconer
Keywords:   Drip Irrigation, Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI), Drip Tape, Alfalfa, Corn, Cotton, Onions, Potatoes, Processing Tomatoes, Chemigation, Fertigation, Irrigation Scheduling, Economics.

Drip irrigation has long been proven as beneficial and economical on fruit, nut and vegetable crops throughout the world, but recently field crop growers are realizing the benefits as well. Adjustments to both the drip irrigation system and the crop growing practices are often necessary; however, the benefits of making these changes often outweigh the costs. Cited benefits include increased yields, increased quality and increased uniformity in addition to reduced water, fertilizer, energy, labor and chemical costs. Since the plants are not wetted, disease is drastically reduced too. In addition, field accessibility is significantly improved compared to gravity and sprinkler irrigation systems, allowing for simpler logistics with other cultural operations. These increases in revenue, reductions in cost and improvements in convenience have consistently offset the cost of adopting drip irrigation systems, and in many cases have allowed continued production of crops in areas where water supplies are severely depleted or restricted, or where gravity and sprinkler technologies are too wasteful.

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