Cutting-edge technology irrigation to face intense drought
Not only in Colombia but also in other places, researchers have discovered yield increases of up to 200 and 250% for crops such as potato and corn, using technified irrigation systems.Bogotá D. C., 04 de febrero de 2016 — Agencia de Noticias UN-
Center pivot irrigation systems are now part of the rural landscape and are successfully popping up in the Bogotá Savannah.
Building water reservoirs and “harvesting” rain are part of the activities that the farmer needs to carry out to manage crop irrigation.
As claimed by Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Agrarian Sciences Associate Professor Roberto Villalobos, after performing multiple research projects which resulted not only in yield benefits provided by technified irrigation systems but also the possibilities non-traditional systems offer to offset intense drought, as the one currently happening in Colombia
Villalobos says accessing technified irrigation systems and training with a prospective mindset in this field are two lessons that this intense drought has left Colombian farmers.
Highly technified irrigation systems go beyond just timely crop water supply. They are also an “insurance policy” which covers the farmer in case of great loss due to the current intense drought which is damaging crops and making surface water evaporate.
Therefore the first lesson learned is to have a prevention culture. “These phenomena are occurring more frequently than ever and farmers should work on building water reservoirs or store excess water to use it during dry periods,” said Villalobos, also a specialist in water management. Therefore with an advanced irrigation system they will be prepared and ready to face a drought and overcome an emergency situation.
A second lesson is that the farmer, with institutional support, must receive training on use of irrigation technology. According to Villalobos, accessing cutting-edge irrigation technology also involves saving power, fertilizers, labor and water.
Adequate training provides the means to determine when and how much to irrigate, which results, additionally in less water pump time.
Not irrigating in excess helps avoid water run-off, in other words avoiding washing off fertilizers. Too much water also stresses crops as too much water prevents root and soil gas exchange.
Furthermore if there is less irrigation there will be less manpower with the ensuing savings.
Regarding saving water, research has shown more yield can be harvested with less cubic meters of irrigation when they are used appropriately, rationally and technically.
An analysis on a crop of chrysanths in the Bogotá Savannah identified scenarios with consumption of up to 6 million liters per hectare per flower cycle of greenhouse cultivated flowers. With technification they showed the feasibility of using only 1 million liters of water (six times less) and an increased yield of up to 7%. In both cases they used a technified irrigation system but for the latter they carried out a different irrigation strategy.
The greatest challenge says Villalobos, is to create scenarios and synergies which offer options to farmers to access higher technicality and training.
“If they have an entrepreneurial perspective and become more technical they move up to the next level: higher yield responses with greater earnings where these profits will help them repay the investment performed on their irrigations system,” he added.(Por: Fin/HEVC/MLA/APBL