Drip Irrigation and Plastic Mulch Conserve Water While Maintaining by dgz16482

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									                                    Drip Irrigation and Plastic Mulch
                                    Conserve
                                    Water While Maintaining Cantaloupe
                                    Yields and Quality
                                    l. stein, k. white, and f. dainello



                                                                                logging by repelling excessive
                                                                                rainfall from entering the soil profile.
                                                                                Other benefits are decreased disease
                                                    Summary                     pressure and improved fruit quality.
                                                                                            Experiment
                                             Conventional furrow irrigation
                                        (CFI) was compared to drip                  The study was conducted over a
                                        irrigation and plastic mulch (DIPM)     two year period at McFadin farms in
                                        at McFadin farms in ‘94. At the         1994 and Cargil Produce in 1995.
                                        Cargil location in ‘95, DIPM was        The crop was direct seeded at 12" in-
                                        compared to CFI, standard drip          row plant spacing on 80" beds.
                                        irrigation (SDI) and furrow             ‘Caravelle’ and ‘Mission’ varieties
                                        irrigated/plastic mulched beds          were used, respectively. Drip tape
                                        (FIPM).        DIPM reduced the         was buried approximately 4-6 inches
                                        supplemental water required to meet     deep in the beds during the shaping
                                        the cantaloupe crop needs by 74-84%     operation. The mulch was a six foot
                                        as compared to CFI. DIPM required       wide black polyethylene.
                                        4-8" of supplemental water to
                                        produce a cantaloupe crop as                 Conventional furrow irrigation

BOTTOM LINE
                                        compared to 25-29" using CFI.           (CFI) was compared to the drip
                                        DIPM increased total and marketable     irrigation plastic mulch (DIPM) at
    Drip irrigation and plastic mulch   yield over CFI.        Under normal     McFadin farms.        At the Cargil
will improve cantaloupe yield and       growing conditions, DIPM resulted       location, DIPM was compared to
quality while reducing the              in a greater net return/A ($550.00)     CFI, standard drip irrigation (SDI)
supplemental water required.            than CFI; crop failure resulted in a    and furrow irrigated/plastic mulched
                                        greater dollar loss with DIPM.          beds (FIPM). Irrigation at both
                                                                                locations was scheduled in the DIPM
                                                                                blocks based on soil moisture tension
                                                   Introduction                 at a 12" depth (40 and 45 centibars,
                                                                                respectively) at the McFadin and
                                            Properly managed drip systems       Cargil locations. A minimum of one
                                        supply adequate moisture to the root    inch of supplemental water was
                                        zone and do not wet the areas           applied in each irrigation.      The
                                        between beds. This technique applies    cooperators scheduled the irrigations
                                        the water when and where needed         and quantities in their usual manner
                                        while maintaining a dry area that can   for the furrow irrigated plots.
                                        absorb excess moisture during a
                                        heavy rain.
                                                                                               Results
                                        Plastic mulch serves to conserve
                                        moisture by reducing surface                Yield and water use results are
                                        evaporation and reducing water          presented in Tables 1 and 2

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                          Continued


 Conclusions and Implications

     The DIPM system reduced the
supplemental water required to meet       Table 1. Yield and water use differences as influenced by irrigation technique:
the cantaloupe crop needs by 74-84%       McFadin Farms.
as compared to furrow irrigation.
The DIPM system required 4-8" of          Irrigation       Total Yield         Marketable           %             Inches
supplemental water to produce a           Method (a)        (lbs/A)            Yield (lbs/A)    Marketable         Water
cantaloupe crop as compared to 25-
29" using furrow irrigation (Table 1      DIPM                   26,463           25,812           98              4.04
and 2). DIPM increased total and
marketable yield over CFI. Under          CFI                        20,010            13,367           67              24.6
normal growing conditions DIPM
                                          a
resulted in a greater net return/A        DIPM = Drip irrigated plastic mulched; CFI - Conventional furrow irrigation
($550.00) than the furrow irrigation
method; crop failure resulted in a
greater dollar loss with DIPM.            Table 2. Supplemental water application as influenced by irrigation technique:
                                          Cargil Produce.
The use of plastic mulch reduced
supplemental water needs 29-36% as        Irrigation technique            Irrigation water           Irrigation water
compared to non-mulched plots. It                                          applied (in)                applied (gal)
reduced fruit rot by serving as a
barrier between the soil and the fruit.   Drip (SDI)                             8.1                    219,947

                                          Drip mulch (DIPM)                      5.5                    150,162

                                          Furrow (CFI)                         29.4                     798,328

                                          Furrow mulch (FIPM)                  20.9                     567,519




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