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Fluid Journal : Fall 2015
6 The Fluid Journal Fall 2015 Using Fluid Fertilizers In Drip Irrigation Timing of fertigation injections may range from daily to weekly to monthly, depending on crop. The Fluid Journal • Official Journal of the Fluid Fertilizer Foundation • Fall 2015 • Vol. 23, No. 4, Issue #90 Western agriculture depends on water for all aspects of production agriculture as it relates to plant development. Without water and its efficient delivery systems, all else pales in comparison. As crop production expands into other marginal areas of the world, irrigation will need to follow. As climates become less predictable, there will continue to be a reliance on water and concerns with the quantity and quality of that resource. Factor that with an ever-increasing population (plus the dietary changes within those populations) will be a major concern for advancing water delivery systems and making the most out of an already limited resource- -water. It is easy to understand how advancing drip irrigation into areas where it has not been used before is becoming an everyday reality and concern. Limited water California (CA) and other parts of the west rely so heavily on irrigation water to bring (CA) an estimated 6 million acres Drs. Terry A. Tindall and Galen Mooso Summary: Grape production areas of CA and other western states are grown almost exclusively on drip or micro sprinklers. Water is the greatest limiting factor and allows exceptionally high efficiency rates of water, but also creates the value-added opportunities for using high- quality fluid fertilizers within these systems. ▼ DOWNLOAD into production. This past year that amount of land has been decreased to less than 600,000 acres. It is all related to the shortness of irrigation. With the limited supply of water there also comes a price for water delivery and the extreme need to improve efficiency. The majority of acres in (CA) and the West still remain surface irrigated with water- use-efficiency ranging from 40 to 60 percent. To expand the limited supply of water and still remain economically viable, drip irrigation is being expanded at a rapid rate. It has always been a part of a management strategy for certain high-value crops like berries, vegetables, and tree crops, but with the advent of drip irrigation, and especially subsurface drip irrigation (SDI), even row crops of cotton, corn, sorghum, and alfalfa are becoming more common. Advantages Subsurface drip irrigation has several advantages that would include both the obvious observation of increased water efficiency, but also additional attributes of increased yields, improved crop quality, and less disease. The latter advantage would also relate to less crop protectants being needed. As a better understanding of drip takes place, marginal water can be more fully used to grow a crop. However, caution needs to be taken when using water with high osmotic potential (salts) to assure that enough leaching would take place to avoid salt damage from high concentrations of those salts on the wetting boundaries to the system. The authors would recommend studying papers specifically related to the advantages and disadvantages of drip in articles like “Subsurface Drip Irrigation in California Here to Stay?” (J.E. Ayars, A. Fulton, and B. Taylor). Disadvantages It should also be pointed out that there are also disadvantages to drip that also need to be considered: • One factor is certainly that within