Subsurface Drip Irrigation Mitigates Drought Impact
The drought of 2009 was particularly hard felt by growers in western Fresno County who experienced an unprecedented 10% allocation in water allotments in several key water districts. While growers responded by cutting back acreage, there has also been a ground swelling of new growers turning to subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) to mitigate the drought’s impacts. Because of the more complex problems that are common to subsurface drip irrigation, additional research and education has been needed directed at new and existing users of this technology. UCCE responded by organizing irrigation industry leaders and growers in a subsurface drip irrigation workshop. Critical issues were addressed at the meeting including:
• Research information related to the chemistry of irrigation waters and methods to improve water chemistry.
• Discussion of drip emitter plugging and detailed approaches to minimize or eliminate one of the most common problems found in SDI systems.
• Key SDI design elements that enhance the system’s capacity to deliver water uniformly and efficiently.
• Safe and effective fertilizer and chemical injection.
Dan Munk also addressed drip tape emitter plugging issues caused by root intrusion. Growers and irrigation industry participants documented a major improvement in their understanding of SDI management with 90% of growers feeling more confident in understanding the causes of poor SDI performance and 82% indicating they would be making some changes in their system management and maintenance methods.