When you’re growing maize, every season is a race to higher yields. But when you’ve got a more precise way to control your water and nutrients, every season is better than the last one.
Should I use on-surface or subsurface drip irrigation?
Subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) systems are most suitable for large-scale operations. Compared to on-surface systems, they require a higher initial investment but deliver additional benefits like lower labor requirements and operational simplicity. SDI systems favor modern tillage practices such as no-till or minimum tillage.
On-surface systems are more suitable for small to medium-sized farms. They require a lower initial investment but carry a higher operational cost related to seasonal dripline deployment and collection. On-surface systems can be designed as 100% portable, making them a good fit for rented plots, allowing farmers to take their investment with them. Moreover, on-surface systems provide more flexibility in rotational crops.
Why should I choose drip irrigation over center pivot irrigation for my maize crop?
Drip irrigation is proven to deliver up to 20% higher yields than center pivot irrigation using the exact same amount of water. Since pivots spray water on the leaves, much of it is lost to evaporation, whereas with drip 100% of your water is used to produce more maize. In addition, subsurface drip systems irrigate 100% of your field, while a center pivot leaves 21% of your crop unirrigated. Drip is also the ideal delivery solution for fertilizers. With precision fertigation, you minimize fertilizer and crop-protection products' application costs and increase the efficiency of every resource you have.
Why should I choose drip irrigation over furrow irrigation for my maize crop?
Drip irrigation fits all plot shapes and sizes, all soil types and all topographies. You can use pressure compensating dripper lines that maintain the same flowrate across different pressure levels so every plant in the field gets exactly the same amount of water and nutrients, no matter the elevation changes or distance from the water source. In fact, you get much better yields and maize quality, which are a direct result of water stress and fertilizer availability.
If I have a lot of rainfall, will drip still be a good investment?
Definitely. While having ample rainfall is obviously a huge advantage, rain is never timely enough or consistent enough to allow the crop to reach its full yield potential. This is even more evident with sandy soils that have a lower water holding capacity. On top of that, drip is also a nutrient delivery system that allows you to fertigate and control the nutrient levels in your soil in a precise and economical way. Applying all of your fertilizer in just a few applications can be wasteful, especially under rainy conditions that provoke leaching. Splitting your nutrient application throughout the season guarantees that your corn crop gets what it needs when it needs it. This is what makes drip systems the perfect tool for increasing productivity in previously rain-fed plots.
What if I have uneven topography or an irregularly shaped field?
Drip irrigation fits all plot shapes and sizes, all soil types, and all topographies. You can use pressure compensating drip lines that maintain the same flow rate across different pressure levels so every plant in the field gets exactly the same amount of water and nutrients, regardless of elevation changes or distance from the water source.
Is subsurface drip irrigation a new practice for maize?
For over 40 years, top growers have been adopting drip irrigation in their maize fields. Many of the biggest players in the USA, Latin America and the Middle East have transitioned hundreds of thousands of hectares to drip. Every year, Netafim installs over 50,000 additional hectares of subsurface drip irrigation in maize fields globally.
Can my maize field be irrigated remotely?
Yes. Precision irrigation is easily combined with remote control and automation to make your irrigation more efficient, giving you immediate access from your cell phone, tablet or computer. Read more about digital farming.
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