Growers who switch from overhead sprinklers to drip irrigation are experiencing quicker growth, larger and more uniform blueberries with increased yields. All of these factors equal higher quality fruit which gets premium prices. Blueberry plants have a very fine and shallow root system, so the crop is vulnerable to water stress. On the other hand, blueberries grow best on well-drained soils and suffer from excess water, so drip irrigation is a perfect fit!
Drip irrigation reduces water stress and disease
Blueberries perform best with an irrigation method such as drip irrigation since the water is deposited directly into the root zone – right where the plant needs it and off the leaves and fruit. Driplines deliver water and nutrients to the plant at a constant rate without waste or run-off. Driplines maintain a high level of efficiency so input costs are reduced. This results in higher yields and a uniform, quality crop throughout the entire field.
Drip irrigation reduces costs and water use
Drip irrigation systems require a much lower operating pressure (12 psi vs. 0 psi) than overhead sprinklers which reduces energy costs – sometimes by as much as 50%. Because growers can schedule the irrigation cycles to better match the soil infiltration rate, less water is used. More than any other method of irrigation, drip irrigation applies water with 95% efficiency.
Drip irrigation provides frost mitigation
Drip irrigation produces healthy and strong blueberry plants which can withstand frost in some cases. When growth starts in the spring and new buds are susceptible to frost damage or for general frost protection, overhead sprinkler systems can be used in conjunction with drip irrigation.
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What is the expected yield for blueberries with drip irrigation?
While yield is influenced by many factors including crop, variety, soil and climate conditions, typical yields can reach 40-60 tons/ha on average per year.
Can I use drip irrigation for fertigation of organic blueberries?
Yes, but organic fertilizers tend to contain more insoluble particles than chemical fertilizers so there is a higher risk of clogging. Some of Netafim's drip products have purpose-built flow paths which have been designed for organic fertilizers and are used in organic blueberry production all over the globe.
How can I manage my irrigation to reach a pH of 4.5 - 5.5?
In soilless media, pH can be managed by injecting acid into the irrigation water. When growing in soil, lowering the pH will require more sophisticated nutritional practices. These may include the use of ammonium-based fertilizers as a source of nitrogen, in addition to acid injection.
When should I use sprinklers or micro-sprinklers instead of drip irrigation?
In some scenarios, sprinklers (or micro-sprinklers) are recommended for blueberry irrigation.
For example, when the water quality is extremely poor, or when growing in open field with a high risk of frost, a sprinkler system can be used for both irrigation and frost protection.
What effect do the electrical conductivity (EC) and pH have on my greenhouse blueberries?
Ensuring the right EC, pH and nutrient levels in the root zone is critical for fast-growing and high-yielding crops. This is especially true when growing in soilless media, since the growing medium has low buffer capabilities and demands a fast and precise reaction.
A system that can react quickly to any change, be it crop stage or climate, can mean the difference between a profitable crop and one which will cost you dearly.
What kind of irrigation products are best for growing blueberries?
When growing blueberries in soilless media, drip systems based on compensated non-drainage drippers (CNL) designed for pulse irrigation are best. If plants are grown in the soil, then regular pressure-compensating driplines are most commonly used.
Can drip irrigation systems be activated remotely?
Yes. Netafim’s advanced digital tools allow you to activate and manage your precision irrigation and automation of plant nutrition from the palm of your hand, wherever you are. You can also add other digital tools, such as ground sensors to optimize your yields and resources.