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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:  5th National Decennial Irrigation Conference Proceedings, 5-8 December 2010, Phoenix Convention Center, Phoenix, Arizona USA  IRR10-8768.(doi:10.13031/2013.35885)
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 in both attitude and cultural practices are necessary when converting from flood or sprinkler; 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, chemical costs and disease reduction. In addition, field accessibility is significantly improved compared to gravity and sprinkler irrigation systems, allowing for simpler logistics with other cultural operations. The increase in revenue, reduction in cost and improvement 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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