PIKETON, Ohio -- Israeli irrigation systems that reduce water consumption and improve application efficiency will be the focus of a new irrigation demonstration and training unit located at Ohio State University South Centers at Piketon.
The grand opening of the unit will take place Oct. 16 at 5 p.m. at OSU South Centers, located at 1864 Shyville Rd., in Piketon. The purpose of the irrigation demonstration and training unit is to acquaint and train specialty crop and fruit and vegetable growers on using the latest Israeli drip irrigation technology and equipment.
Researchers at OSU South Centers at Piketon established the drip irrigation research and education unit, in partnership with the Ohio-Israel Agricultural Initiative of The Negev Foundation, to evaluate new irrigation technology. During the grand opening, tours will be conducted by OSU Extension and OIAI specialists. There is no cost to attend. The event precedes the OSU South Centers' Pumpkin Twilight Tour, which begins at 6 p.m. Registration for the Pumpkin Twilight Tour is $5.
Brad Bergefurd, an OSU Extension horticulturist, said the drip irrigation research evolved from an Ohio Green Industry Technological and Trade Mission to Israel, where such technology is in wide use.
"Since Ohio has adopted many Israeli production techniques that are currently being used in Ohio commercial horticulture industries, I wanted to use this study tour opportunity to view research and production in Israel," said Bergefurd. "I wanted to see what new techniques are being used there and to bring back ideas of what can be researched by Ohio State University for future adoption by Ohio growers."
Bergefurd said that the drip irrigation technology, developed by Netafirm Irrigation, Inc., uses drip sticks, drip tape, multiple outlet drippers and streamline drip tubing that not only waters plant foliage, but also targets plant roots. The system, unlike traditional overhead irrigation, is suited for small parcels of land and high tunnel systems, as well as nursery/greenhouses, hydroponics, and fruit production, such as plasticulture strawberries.
"The drip irrigation technology has the ability to reduce water consumption up to 50 percent compared to overhead irrigation systems. Some of the technology uses a very small flow rate -- .16 to .24 gallons per hour," said Bergefurd. "The technology uses water more efficiently and spreads water more uniformly so there is no waste. It puts the water right where the crop needs it most."
Israel is a world leader in agricultural technology with special expertise in irrigation. As the country presents unique climate and soil challenges, Israel's agriculture specialists have developed advanced processes and technology for farming. Drip irrigation allows farmers to efficiently irrigate crops by optimizing water flow rates and targeting plant roots that result in enhanced production, water conservation, reduction of fertilizer usage, and elimination of water runoff and ground water contamination with an economic advantage to the farmer. Bergefurd believes such technology could be useful to Ohio growers.
"Water is an important resource in agriculture and is especially crucial when dealing with high-value specialty crops. If you don't get the right amount of water, you can't grow the crop," said Bergefurd. "When you've got thousands of dollars invested, $10,000 an acre in plasticulture strawberries for example, you can't go without irrigation."
Bergefurd said that the drip irrigation research and education unit will be an ongoing project at OSU South Centers.
"We sit in one of the driest areas of the state. What better place to evaluate drip irrigation technology than at OSU South Centers," said Bergefurd.
To learn more about the technology or to view the drip irrigation research and education unit at OSU South Centers, contact Brad Bergefurd at (740) 289-2071.