Drip irrigation is a micro irrigation method in which the rate of water application is very low and without any pressure. i.e., drop by drop. Drip irrigation is based on the basic concept of irrigation only the roots zone of crop, rather than the entire land surface on which the crop is grown. Water flows from the emission points through the soil by capillarity and gravity. The soil moisture content of the crop root zone is maintained at near optimum level to facilitate optimum crop growth and production.
Drip irrigation is useful for fruit crops Banana, Grapes, Citrus, Pomegranate, Papaya, Pineapple, Watermelon, Sweet lime, Mango.
Advantages of Drip Irrigation in Fruits
- Increased yield
- Early maturity
- Water saving
- Fertilizer saving
- Increased fertilizer use efficiency by crop
- Energy saving
- Labor saving
- Marginal land & undulated land can be irrigated
- Use of saline water is possible for irrigation
- Reduced weed growth
- Less problem of disease and pest
- Easy intercultural operations
- High cost: drip irrigation systems are expensive because of their requirements of large quantity of piping & filtration equipment to clean the water.
- Expense: Initial cost can be more than overhead systems.
- Waste: The sun can affect the tubes used for drip irrigation, shortening their usable life. Longevity is variable.
- Clogging: If the water is not properly filtered and the equipment not properly maintained, it can result in clogging.
- Drip tape causes extra cleanup costs after harvest. You’ll need to plan for drip tape winding, disposal, recycling or reuse.
This method is not suitable for closely planted crops such as wheat
Components of Drip Irrigation System
- Pumping set: To create a pressure about 2.5 Kg/sq. cm to regulate the amount of water to be supplied.
- Filter: To filter the water in Order to remove the suspended impurities from water.
- Main lines: It is a Distribution system in drip irrigation. Rigid PVC and high-density polyethylene pipes are used as main pipes to minimized corrosion and clogging.
- Pipes of 65 mm diameter and with pressure rating of 4 to 10 kg/sq. cm
- Sub Main: It is usually connected to the main lines through a control valve assembly. The function of its to distributes water uniformly to a number laterals.
- Drippers/emitters: It is fitted to a drip irrigation lateral and intended to emit water in the form of drops or continuous flow at emitter rates not exceeding 15 liters/hr.
- Drippers function as energy dissipated, reducing the inlet pressure head in the lateral, which generally range from 0.3 to 1.5 atmosphere.
Drip irrigation system is an economical and very efficient system of irrigating for fruit crops, vegetables, row crops etc. Drip irrigated crops use less water compared to overhead irrigated crops. Drip irrigation increase yield.
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Grape vines not only produce sweet and versatile fruits, they add an element of drama to a garden or landscape. They are vigorous growers, and with the proper pruning, they will produce fruit with ease and can last longer than 30 years.
The crop prefers warm to hot temperatures; during fruiting, the weather must be sunny and dry. Warm environmental temperatures during fruit ripening, is important in increasing the sugar content of berries while reducing their acidity. This explains why grapes grown under irrigation in hot deserts or semi deserts are sweeter than those from cold humid areas.
The crop can grow in any soil, from sandy to heavy clays but the soil should be deep and well drained. Where the rainfall is scant, supplement it with an irrigation of 500 mm of water during the cropping season. In Kenya, the cropping season is September to March.
Irrigation should be withheld after the long rains so as to force the crop to go dormant.
In August to September, fruit buds form thus it is important to keep the plant healthy and well manured.
There are plenty of health benefits in consuming grapes for they are a rich source of Vitamins- A, C, K and minerals such as iron, copper, manganese.
Soils should be well drained. Wet soils lead to poor aeration and increased incidence of crown rot in apples (Phytophthora cactorum). Generally, rooting tends to be shallow, and wet soils will restrict development, resulting in poor anchorage of the tree and a reduced area of soil from which nutrients can be extracted. Soils with high organic matter contents are normally better structured and allow good rooting.
Irrigation is necessary on dry soils, particularly when establishing and growing young orchards. Trickle irrigation and fertigation are increasingly used. In young orchards fertigation helps increase early tree growth and brings trees into bearing earlier. Sprinkler irrigation can be used to protect the tree buds and fruitlets against frost damage.
Sowing of a grass mulch between the tree rows is common practice, which together with any clippings, helps to increase water holding capacity, infiltration rate, soil aggregation and recycling of nutrients.
Apples prefer a slightly acidic to neutral soil (pH between 5.8 and 7.0). Extreme soil pH values result in nutrient tie-up or toxicity and poor tree and fruit development. It is important to amend the pH in acidic soils by incorporating lime before planting
Tangerines are relatively cold-tolerant, making them easier to grow than oranges, grapefruits and other types of citrus. Some varieties, such as the Citrus reticulata "Dancy," are heat-tolerant and do best when summers are hot, but other types, including the Citrus reticulata "Sunburst," do best when summers are on the cool side.
Citrus species can thrive in a wide range of soil and climatic conditions. Citrus is grown from sea level up to an altitude of 2100 m but for optimal growth a temperature range from 2° to 30° C is ideal. Long periods below 0°C are injurious to the trees and at -13° C growth diminishes. However, individual species and varieties decrease in susceptibility to low temperatures in the following sequence: grapefruit, sweet orange, mandarin, lemon/lime and trifoliate orange as most hardy.
Temperature plays an important role in the production of high quality fruit. Typical coloring of fruit takes place if night temperatures are about 14° C coupled with low humidity during ripening time. Exposure to strong winds and temperatures above 38° C may cause fruit drop, scarring and scorching of fruits. In the tropics, the high lands provide the best night weather for orange color and flavor.