‘Chemigation’ technology for cotton, sugar cane, rice and similar crops is a step closer, following the launch of the DripByDrip watering and pesticides application system for fruit and vegetable cropping.
The drip irrigation technology that can feed crops, as well as help in disease control, is being developed by a partnership of irrigation specialist Netafim and the agrichemicals giant Bayer CropScience.
Netafim CEO Ran Maidan says its drip irrigation has been used for many years as a delivery system for applying water and nutrients in a precise and timely manner to plant roots, helping farmers to achieve higher and better crop yields while saving water.
“Through our new partnership with Bayer, they can also deliver crop protection products in a more targeted way, to reduce the input of these products, and use them in a more effective and safe way.”
At a time when global water supplies are under increasing pressure, Bayer says the up to 95% use-efficiency of drip irrigation versus 40% or less with flood irrigation is a motivation for making maximum use of drip-feed systems by also applying crop chemicals and fertilisers.
But beyond water conservation, targeted application of pests and diseases through plant roots can also bring improved levels of control, says Bayer, with the combined benefits bringing increased yields and net income.
Holger Weckwert, project lead at Bayer, says proof-of-concept trials carried out on different crops in Chile, Israel, Mexico, Turkey, Spain and Brazil included a 150% yield increase in a Brazilian sugar cane crop resulting from the drip irrigation of water, fertilisers and crop protection products.
Currently, the DripByDrip system focuses on fruit and vegetable producers in all arid and semi-arid regions of the world, with a launch in Mexico planned before the end of the year.
Thereafter, there are plans to extend and customise the system for more countries, crops, pests and diseases.