The world is rapidly moving towards an increasingly modern mentality when it comes to farming activity. From the simple concept of improving agricultural economic efficiency, to devising cutting edge aeroponics techniques that could make farming on Mars possible. New agricultural trends and technologies are constantly emerging, and micro irrigation seems to be at the center of it all. So what are the latest drip irrigation trends and emerging industries?
Importance of Drip Irrigation in Vertical Farming
Vertical farming is the practice of growing crops in vertically stacked instead of horizontal layers as is traditionally the case. This offers a variety of advantages: increased crop yield per unit of farming area, reduced land requirements, and enabling the commercialization of novel farming methods, e.g. hydroponics.
The importance of drip irrigation in vertical farming cannot be overstated. By their very nature, all types of vertical farming techniques rely on some sort of micro irrigation method. In hydroponics, micro irrigation is used to submerge the roots of plants in liquid solutions containing the necessary macronutrients. The same is true for aquaponics, the only difference being the source of nutrient-rich irrigation water coming from fish tanks rather than being manually prepared. Lastly, aeroponics utilizes the same type of pipes as drip irrigation, but with the difference of misting instead of dripping the nutrient liquid solution.
Drip Irrigation Advantages in Cannabis Agriculture
The last 5 years have seen the legalization and widespread usage of cannabis in a variety of products, resulting in an increase of its production. Being a plant with relatively short growth cycle, its crop duration is around 3 to 5 months. During this time, cannabis plants require a controlled environment as well as frequent watering and fertilising. Therefore irrigation quickly becomes a repetitive yet critical task, especially in today’s competitive landscape of cannabis growing where costs and time are at a premium.
This makes drip irrigation almost mandatory when it comes to growing cannabis efficiently. But efficiency aside, drip irrigation also offers an excellent way to control a crop’s critical parameters, such as pH or conductivity. This offers the farmer an excellent way to control a cannabis crop’s critical parameters. Moreover, drip irrigation can support short watering cycles, meaning that the plants will maintain good root oxygenation while receiving an optimum amount of water and nutrients. This prevents cannabis plants from the extremes of being overflowed with water or drying out, protecting the crop and resulting in high and consistent yields throughout farming cycles.
Precision agriculture is the use of high technology coupled with advanced farming techniques, to improve crop yield, farming efficiency, and increase profitability. It involves mapping a crop’s yield using specialized drones, satellite imaging data, and GPS systems. In doing so, the farmer can decide on whether there are certain parts of the crop that may have different needs e.g. in watering or fertilizing. And gaining meaningful control over the rate of nutrients application or irrigation water, means the use of properly designed and implemented drip irrigation systems. That’s why drip irrigation plays a big role in precision agriculture. It provides the farmers with the precision and control required, in order to adapt to the watering and nutritional needs of a certain crop section, as required based on high tech imaging crop analysis.
Greenhouses & Indoor Drip Irrigation Systems
Drip irrigation is an integral part of any greenhouse or controlled environment agriculture application. The very purpose of a greenhouse is to provide and maintain optimal crop growing conditions. In modern greenhouse farming, drip irrigation covers two of the most critical conditions for optimal crop growth: watering and nutrient delivery.
Subsurface Drip Irrigation or SDI is an advanced micro irrigation method in which water containing fertilizer is supplied directly to the root zone of every plant. This type of underground irrigation solution delivery offers various advantages. For one it provides accurate control of irrigation and nutrients depending on the plant’s needs. Secondly, it reduces evaporation contributing to water savings and improving fertilizer uptake. Moreover, since the soil surface is kept dry, subsurface irrigation significantly reduces weed development and parasitic plant diseases.
As is to be expected, the subsurface application of drip irrigation poses several considerations such as dripper anti-clogging, proper system design, installation, and soil backflow. This has led to the development of specialized drip irrigation drippers that offer optimum performance for subsurface applications.
Navigating Through Drip Irrigation Technologies
Keeping up with the different requirements, types, and application variations of drip irrigation can be a daunting task. Let alone when you want to consider how to position your company and products in today’s drip irrigation market. To simplify this task contact DRTS today to consult with an industry expert, receive specialist tips and guidance, and discover drip irrigation solutions tailored to your needs.