Why Drip Irrigation is Gaining Popularity

  • Improved crop yield and quality. Water and nutrients are spoon-fed to the crop uniformly and on the desired schedule.
  • Water conservation. Drip irrigation helps stretch limited water supplies by reducing water runoff, deep percolation and/or over-irrigation due to poor application uniformity.
  • Reduced costs. Water, fertilizer, energy, labor, chemicals, weeding, insurance, and field operations tend to cost less compared to alternative irrigation technologies.
  • Improved logistics. Because crop wheel rows remain dry with drip irrigation, drip fields are typically more accessible regardless of the irrigation schedule.
  • Reduced disease. Since water is not applied within the plant canopy, humidity and associated disease problems are reduced. Reduced puddling can also decrease the opportunity for E. coli to grow.

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Drip Irrigation Increases Yield for Idaho Farm

The benefits of drip irrigation are easy to see at Weilmunster Farms in Parma, Idaho. After adopting drip technology, the farm increased its hops yields by 400 pounds per acre, which translated into increased revenues of $800 to $1,600 per acre. 

Using Fewer Resources

Beyond the increased production, Weilmunster Farms cut water use in half, reduced fertilizer use substantially, and had fewer weeds because the water was targeted to the root zone. They also eliminated sidedressing and corrugating for rill irrigation, and discovered they could irrigate prior to harvest without concern for a dry down period. They’ve even reduced theft by eliminating siphon tubes. 

Why Drip?

Jon Weilmuinster began looking at drip irrigation after friends in Washington asked, “How do you grow hops without drip?” Weilmunster uses Toro’s BlueLine premium dripline which contains a factory pre-installed 0.5 gallons per hour (gph) emitter every 24 inches. His 1,250-foot runs are planted with hops 42 inches apart on 14-foot centers. 

BlueLine delivers excellent wetting patterns,” Weilmunster observed. “Everything worked great the first time I turned the system on.” According to Weilmunster, the support he received from Toro’s local representative and the local Toro dealer were also critical to his success.

Visit www.dripirrigation.org to learn more.

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