Irrigation management is essential for high value crops such as blueberries, raspberries and blackberries and farm managers say drip irrigation is an indispensable tool.
Jose Quiñones Solís, of SunnyRidge berry plantation in Tuxpan, Jalisco, Mexico, says drip irrigation helps him manage moisture levels more precisely on the 420-acre berry farm.
"Since these crops require a high investment, we try to protect the life of the plants and the yield as much as possible," Solís says. "Drip irrigation certainly offers the possibility of successfully managing adequate moisture levels and plant conditions. That is precisely why, since the onset, the project already included drip irrigation."
Orlando López Jiménez, the engineer responsible for the fertilization, pest control and pruning of blueberries at SunnyRidge, agrees. "The irrigation is more uniform with drip," he says. "Moisture in irrigated plants is evenly distributed." Jiménez also likes the benefits a drip irrigation system offers in terms of fertilization. "First and foremost, fertilizer is optimized; there is no waste or loss because the fertilizer is injected into the plant roots," he says. "Here at the cranberry fields, we use sulfate-based products. And everything is distributed by drip irrigation. We can also apply fungicides, root stimulators and even insecticides using the irrigation system."
Both men like John Deere Water products for a variety of reasons.
"First of all, we had to make sure that the system was suitable to the region and we had to find suppliers active in the area that could provide us with good service for the irrigation systems. This was crucial to us," Solís says.
The wide range of products and, most importantly, the ability to test the equipment prior to installation is another benefit John Deere Water offers that Solís appreciates.
"The service offered by John Deere Water includes the possibility of testing their materials to make sure they will work for us. We don't introduce any material without testing. And they offer that possibility, buying material that you know is going to work for sure," Solís says. "They have a wide range of products for different conditions. They have materials for more regular terrain and also for rougher surfaces. That enables us to run tests with their materials, because they offer the advantage of having all kinds of available products in their line."
"We had another type of drip tape before that resembled paper, because it did not last very long," Jiménez says. "That tape used to burst with pressure, whereas the new tape from John Deere Water is lasting even longer than the hose. We recommended [drip irrigation] to all the growers [from other fields under our care] and all of them have installed drip irrigation systems."
Solís expects to have his system automated within the next few years, saying it will save money and allow better regulation of the water supply.
"Our average equipment operating costs range from $100,000 to $150,000 per year. We expect a 75% cut-back with automation. The automation cost is [somewhere around] $120,000. Therefore, we will get cost benefits. We would be saving labor and operating costs, besides enjoying the advantages of an automated system that will allow us to inject fertilizers and better regulate our crop growing conditions." *
At John Deere Water we provide the most reliable integrated ag management solutions, with superior channel partners, to growers that want to optimize operations and output.
-- Jose Quiñones Solís and Orlando López Jiménez