Irrigation As a Way to Increase Crop Yields
Plant organisms are of great importance as the main nutritional link, playing a leading role in the cycle of minerals and organic matter that ensures the continued existence of life on Earth. Humans use plants extensively as food, as fodder for livestock, in industry, in medicine, and as decorative and aesthetic components of life. You will learn about Irrigation As a Way to Increase Crop Yields in the RunSun article.
- Definition of drip irrigation.
- Benefits of using drip irrigation systems.
- System operation mechanism and components.
Definition of Drip Irrigation
In our country, the process of growing crops is carried out at all permissible levels, starting from the private homestead and ending with agricultural production, ensuring food security in the country. Many factors influence high crop production: type and quality of soil, temperature regime, climatic conditions, availability of useful substances in the soil, control of weeds, bacteria, and viruses, and organization of an effective irrigation system. Water is one of the main substances determining the whole life activity of plants, it provides transport of mineral and organic substances through the vessels of the plant organism, it is a solvent and medium for biochemical processes, and regulates heat exchange.
Yield performance directly depends on the frequency, uniformity, and quantity of water supplied to the plant. For our country, the innovative irrigation technology is the drip irrigation system, which has been tested in more developed countries and appeared in our agricultural market a few years ago. One of the features of drip irrigation is that the water is supplied directly to the root zone of cultivated plants in stages, regulated by drip tape, drippers, and distributors.
Benefits of Using Drip Irrigation Systems
- Root-based method of irrigation. The most important function of the roots is to absorb water and minerals. The root system of the plant provides upward flow, providing transport of mineral salts to the leaves, where complex biosynthetic processes take place. Therefore, maintaining the water-chemical balance in the root zone is a prerequisite for high productivity. The degree of branching of primary and adventitious roots and their uptake surface depend mainly on the conditions of water supply in the early stages of root development. Drip irrigation provides the necessary amount of uniform water supply for normal plant life throughout the growing season. However, under surface irrigation, the temporal gaps in the water supply are not uniform and the organism incurs energy costs to maintain simple functions rather than for development, flowering, seed, and fruit formation.
- Labor costs are reduced due to the permanence of the drip irrigation system. This type of irrigation requires only monitoring and control.
- The cost savings lie in not having to purchase and install pumps to achieve normal pressure when irrigating a site, as is the case with sprinkler irrigation, where normal pump stations cannot provide normal operating pressure when a large number of users are using water. At the same time, unnecessary energy costs are eliminated. The efficiency of drip irrigation does not depend on the pressure in the pipes.
- Water is saved because it is delivered to the plants on a point-by-point basis. In the process, excess water is not sprayed onto stems and leaves where it would evaporate, open soil is not irrigated, and no water enters inter-row areas that would normally produce weeds, which are direct competitors to cultivated plants in the ecosystem.
- No negative impact on soil aeration. Aeration is the enrichment of the soil with oxygen and in the process, there is gas exchange between the soil and the water in the atmosphere. It is an indicator of soil fertility. Aeration is necessary to ensure the viability of microorganisms, accelerate the oxidation and decomposition of organic matter, promote the uptake of nutrients by plants and ensure their proper development. When using drip irrigation, a favorable air-water balance is maintained; with surface irrigation, this regime is disrupted by water saturation.
- By introducing liquid fertilizers with irrigation water, the efficiency of fertilizer supply is improved by storing optimized water temperatures in the tank, which has a beneficial effect on the rate of nutrient uptake by the plant roots.
- Plant protection. Drip irrigation prevents water from getting on stems and leaves and does not wash away insecticides and fungicides, prolonging their effectiveness. In addition, plants do not get burned, as is often the case with sprinkler irrigation, where water droplets on the surface of leaves act like lenses. Herbicides (products that kill unwanted plant species) can also be applied through irrigation systems.
- Irrigation in areas with complex landscapes is guaranteed by avoiding the possibility of water erosion of the soil.
System Operation Mechanism and Components
The components of a drip irrigation system are as follows.
-Water source, for a simple system a tank with 2 m or higher head, for an automated system a central water supply or a well, a well with a pump.
-Filtration equipment can be provided by strainers or disc filters.
-The fertilizer preparation and application unit is associated with large-scale tillage operations. It can be equipped with a metering pump and an ejector.
-The main pipe is used to supply water from the water source to the distribution pipe. It must meet the following requirements: sufficient diameter to pump the required amount of water, and high strength characteristics.
A pressure regulator controls the flow of water, maintains the required pressure, and generally automates the system.
-Air release valves are installed for large irrigation systems when using pumping stations.
-Drip pipe performs the function of conveying water from the main pipe to the drip pipe. It must meet the following requirements: the product material must be non-corrosive, the diameter and length must correspond to the number of drip tapes and pipes to be connected, and the required water flow rate.
-Connecting and disconnecting fittings are various angles, tees, taps, plugs, adapters, couplings, fittings, and bends. The material of the products must be corrosion resistant, meet the strength requirements and withstand the pressure of the system.
-Emitting devices – Devices that supply water directly to the root system: drip tape, drip tubes, drip heads.
-Measuring and control devices are additional mechanisms to automate the system, represented by devices with built-in sensors that control turning the water on and off depending on the time of day, weather conditions, etc.
From the source, water is pumped into the mains, where filters, pressure regulators, safety valves, and fertilizer delivery devices are installed. All these components are selected individually for each system, depending on the area to be irrigated, the size of the farm, and the final destination. Water flows from the mains into the distribution lines, to which drip tape and pipes are connected via fittings. From the drip line, water flows to the root zone through internal or external drip heads.
Types of Drip Tape
- Labyrinth tape is characterized by the formation of a labyrinth of water channels on the surface of the material, with a reduced rate and amount of water flow.
- The slotted tape has a liquid channel along its entire length and is laser cut in certain places to allow water to drain.
- The emitter tape differs from the others in that the drip tray is built directly into it for a certain distance. Thanks to this design, a turbulent water flow is created, cleaning the pipes of debris and making it possible to use this drip in systems with low levels of water filtration.
The drip tape also varies in diameter, drip spacing, material, operating time, and wall thickness.
Types of Drip Tubes
- Drip tubes with integrated drip trays are characterized by the fact that the emitter is mounted in them at a certain distance.
- Blind drip tubes are characterized by the absence of an integrated drip tray and by their solid surface. A special device is used to punch a hole in the blind tube to mount an external emitter. With this type of tube, it is possible to water specific plants individually and the distance between drip tips is not fixed.
- The push-in starter fitting is used to connect the drip tape to the branch pipe. For installation, a hole is punched in the pipe, a nail is pressed in, and the pipe wall is clamped between the edge of the nail and the nut on the outside; no additional clamps are required.
- The elastic band starter fitting is used to connect the drip tape to the branch pipe. To secure it, a hole is punched in the pipe, the nail is pressed in, and the pipe wall is clamped between the edge of the nail and the rubber band on the outside.
- Repair fittings are used to restore, repair, and connect the drip tape.
- The starter tap with an elastic band is used to connect the drip tape to the branch pipe. The connection to the pipe is made in a similar way to that of the fitting. The use of the tap ensures that the water stops flowing to the specific drip tape.
- The starter tap with clamps is used to connect the drip tape to the distribution line for controlled water supply to one of the drip lines.
- A compression tee is used to branch the drip line.
- The pinch angle is designed to twist the two drip strips together.
Correct selection, organization, and efficient use of all components of a drip irrigation system will ensure a high and timely harvest, adding a new dimension to the life of gardens, garden plots, and front gardens.
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