Learn How Drip Irrigation Can Boost On-Farm Profits at July 15 Workshop

June 17, 2010

PIKETON, Ohio – Specialty fruit and vegetable crop producers looking to gain a better understanding of how drip irrigation can boost on-farm profits have the opportunity to attend an Ohio State University Extension drip irrigation workshop on July 15.

The workshop will be held from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at OSU South Centers in Piketon, 1864 Shyville Road, Piketon, Ohio. Registration is $5 per person.

Brad Bergefurd, an OSU Extension horticulturist, will discuss drip irrigation techniques, implementation and management. Topics include: why you should drip irrigate, the benefits of drip irrigation, what parts are needed for a system, what water sources work, how to install a system, how to fertilize with drip irrigation, and drip irrigation scheduling.

"Drip irrigation is an insurance against periods of dry weather or drought. Specialty crops are such short-lived crops that they cannot go without the necessary 1 inch of water per week or else quality and yield will be lost," said Bergefurd. "Growers who grow specialty crops can have over $10,000 per acre invested in a crop before their first harvest. Irrigation is insurance that the crop will be successful."

The workshop will showcase an irrigation demonstration unit, complete with 15 different system components. In 2008, 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.

Bergefurd said that the drip irrigation technology 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.

In addition to the irrigation demonstration unit, Bergefurd will demonstrate basic trickle irrigation set-up and operations management.

The drip irrigation workshop is part of the OSU South Centers Third Thursday Horticulture Business Training series. For more information or to register, contact Julie Strawser-Moose at (740) 289-2071, ext. 223 or e-mail strawser.35@cfaes.osu.edu.

Author(s): 
Candace Pollock
Source(s): 
Brad Bergefurd