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Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI) in orange farm

Success stories
Projects/ Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI) in orange farm
Finca naranjo
Cultura del agua - AZUD

The company

With more than 30 years of experience, Suministros Agrícolas Latorre Aparicio has established itself as a reference in the agricultural sector.

Located in the town of Godelleta, in the province of Valencia, the company is dedicated to technical advice, sale of phytosanitary products and fertilizers, hydraulic installations of drinking water and drip irrigation. It has a backhoe and rotating machine service for trenching and earth moving.

In addition to all this, the company is also a producer and has farms of the predominant crop in the area such as oranges. Its main customers are the irrigation communities and producers of these crops.

The company is not only recognized in Spain, but also internationally, thanks to the experience of Enrique Latorre, Agronomist Engineer and co-manager of the company. Enrique, who specializes in citrus and more specifically in fruit fattening of varieties such as Nadorcott and Tango, has raised quality and production standards. His knowledge and advice extends beyond the Spanish borders, reaching citrus growers in South America, with special presence in countries such as Chile and Peru, among others.

Finca naranjo

The challenge

Located in a region traditionally dedicated to the cultivation of orange trees, this 5-hectare farm, with a planting frame of 6×6 meters, faced unique challenges in its irrigation system.

In this area, the traditional preference has always been for surface irrigation systems, with the use of 3.5 liter cylindrical drippers at 1 meter spacing as standard. However, this method presented multiple problems on the farm: from frequent breakdowns to difficulties in weed management and high water consumption. In addition, the presence of horses on the farm caused constant breaks in the exposed pipes.

The implementation of Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI) was seen not only as a solution to the existing problems, but also as a step towards modernization and water efficiency. This system not only eliminates the drawbacks of having above ground pipes, such as accidental displacement by operators and damage caused by wildlife, but also promises a significant reduction in water consumption and better weed control.

The solution

Given the specific challenges and issues faced by our client, a strategic decision was made to implement a Subsurface Drip Irrigation system (SDI).

First, the soil texture of the farm was ideal for this type of irrigation system, a crucial factor for the effectiveness of SDI. In addition, we had the advantage of having an end customer with solid technical knowledge and a firm commitment to the proper maintenance of the installation. Added to this was the installer’s vast experience with SDI systems, which gave us high confidence in the positive results of the installation.

The root system of the crop was already developed, so by performing a test to see where the roots were, it was decided to bury the pipe under the canopy, always carrying out the operation in vegetative stop. Not having the crop on ridges made the installation easier since the farm was flat, in the case of having a ridge project, it was necessary to study where to place the pipe and at what moment to install it, for the greatest efficiency of water application and to develop the root system.

The implementation of SDI in citrus has resulted in multiple benefits: a more efficient and optimized location of water use, a reduction in the need for labor, easier management of the vegetation cover and, most importantly, a significant extension of the useful life of the system.

In addition, a detailed study of the cultural tasks that the producer would carry out on the farm was carried out. Considering the soil texture, depth and the specific characteristics of the crop, it was decided to bury the pipe at a depth of approximately 25 cm. This strategic decision guarantees maximum efficiency in water application and promotes optimal development of the root system.

Benefits of the solution

The greatest benefit of an SDI system compared to other irrigation systems is the cost savings and in this case the change from a localized surface irrigation to a localized underground irrigation system was achieving the following cost savings:

  • With respect to water, a higher application efficiency that was leading him to achieve 10% water savings, plus the savings derived from having neither evaporation nor runoff which is 100% savings in that case.
  • Saving of about 20% in nutrition by applying it directly to the root zone.
  • Savings in tillage and management of the vegetation cover by having to make fewer passes because it is not wet on the surface.
  • And the most important on this farm was the savings derived from the maintenance of the irrigation system.

In addition to these benefits, another very important one in citrus cultivation is production, and by not having a wet surface there is no loss of production due to watering of the fruit, so yields are higher, higher yields due to greater development of the root system and also because there are no problems with the watering of the fruit.

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