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Pivot and Drip Irrigation Technology Advances

With the cost of today’s inputs, it’s never been more important for farmers to be able to maximize the yields of their crops, and one of the things necessary for that is the ability to irrigate when the weather turns dry. Joe Brown tells us about advances in irrigation technology in this week’s From The Ground Up.

"In water short areas, particularly in the southern high plains, we’re seeing drip irrigation used more and more on row crops, and by a continual small application of water they can get a good yield bump from the drip."

Texas Agrilife Extension irrigation specialist Guy Fipps says specialty crops are where you’ll find most drip irrigation.

"Specialty crops and orchards, and that’s where we see the most irrigation. Vineyards, our wineries for example, they’re almost exclusively under drip irrigation. Most of our orchards are under drip irrigation."

Drip irrigation is two to three times the cost of pivot sprinkler irrigation. Both systems offer the benefit of chemical applications to a crop called chemigation.

"Sometimes it is the advantage of chemigation that tips the balance scale. If it’s wet, too wet to get out there with your spray rig, you can still apply it through your irrigation system. You can do it through the irrigation system as opposed to a person or a laborer out there with a spray rig."

A pivot system will allow the farmer to apply more different types of chemicals than he might with drip irrigation.

"You can actually spray the solution on the leaves of the plant, and then fertilizers are commonly used, so instead of having to put all of your fertilizer out once or twice in the season, you can what we call spoon feed the crop and get the fertilizer out there, just the amount that the crop needs at critical periods."

Technology, it’s what has helped make the United States home to the most productive farmers in the world. I’m Joe Brown, looking at Brazos Valley agriculture, From The Ground Up.


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