Growing corn on a large scale while facing unpredictable weather conditions or water scarcity is challenging.
However, with drip irrigation, you can take full control of when water and nutrients are delivered to your crop's root zone - reducing climate-related risk, managing inputs and securing profitability
Drip irrigation is a water and nutrient delivery system placed either below or above the ground ,that gives you the ability to deliver water and nutrients directly to the root zone, in accurate amounts based on the plants current needs.
It can be applied in all topographies, field sizes and soil types. This means that you can maintain optimal soil moisture and nutrient levels in all conditions. This leads to savings in water and fertilizers, as well as improved yields.
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Should I use on-surface or subsurface drip irrigation?
Subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) systems are most suitable for large-scale operations. Compared with on-surface systems, they require a higher initial investment, but deliver additional benefits like lower labor requirements and operational simplicity. SDI systems favor modern tillage practices such as no-till or minimum tillage.
On-surface systems are more suitable for small to medium sized farms. They require a lower initial investment, but they carry a higher operational cost related to seasonal dripline deployment and collection. On-surface systems can be designed as 100% portable, making them a good fit for rented plots, allowing farmers to take their investment with them.
Why should I choose drip irrigation over center pivot irrigation for my corn crop?
Drip irrigation is proven to deliver up to 20% higher yields than center pivot irrigation, using the exact same amount of water. Since pivots spray water on the leaves, much of it is lost to evaporation, whereas with drip, 100% of your water is used to produce more corn. In addition, subsurface drip systems irrigate 100% of your field, while a center pivot leaves 21% of your crop unirrigated. Drip is also the ideal delivery solution for fertilizers. With precision fertigation, you minimize fertilizer application costs and increase the efficiency of every resource you have.
Why should I choose drip irrigation over furrow irrigation for my corn crop?
Drip irrigation is proven to deliver up to 40% higher yields than furrow irrigation while saving up to 50% in water usage and 30% in nutrients and labor. Additionally drip irrigation helps prevent nutrient leaching and runoff that is common in furrow irrigation. Another important advantage faster and precise delivery of water and nutrients to plants in no time compared to furrow irrigation where it may take a few days. Moreover, crop homogeneity is significantly better with drip irrigation due to the homogeneous supply of water and nutrients directly to the roots.
If I have a lot of rainfall, will drip still be a good investment?
Definitely. While having ample rainfall is obviously a huge advantage, rain is never timely enough or consistent enough to allow the crop to reach its full yield potential. This is even more evident with sandy soils that have a lower water holding capacity. On top of that, drip is also a nutrient delivery system that allows you to fertigate and control the nutrient levels in your soil in a precise and economical way. Applying all of your fertilizer in just a few applications can be wasteful, especially under rainy conditions that provoke leaching. Splitting your nutrient application throughout the season guarantees that your corn crop gets what it needs when it needs it. This is what makes drip systems the perfect tool for increasing productivity in previously rain-fed plots.
What if I have uneven topography or an irregularly shaped field?
Drip irrigation fits all plot shapes and sizes, all soil types, and all topographies. You can use pressure compensating drip lines that maintain the same flow rate across different pressure levels so every plant in the field gets exactly the same amount of water and nutrients, regardless of elevation changes or distance from the water source.
Is drip irrigation a new practice for corn?
For over 40 years, top growers have been adopting drip irrigation in their corn fields. Many of the biggest players in the USA, Latin America and the Middle East have transitioned hundreds of thousands of hectares to drip. Every year, Netafim installs or provides equipment for over 50,000 additional hectares of drip irrigation in corn fields globally
Can my corn field be irrigated remotely?
Yes. Precision irrigation is easily combined with remote control and automation to make your irrigation more efficient, giving you immediate access from your cell phone, tablet or computer. Read more about digital farming.