If you want to gain an edge in the alfalfa market, you need to increase your alfalfa yields and quality, and lower your costs. Meet precision irrigation.
Lucerne is a uniquely-demanding, water-intensive, perennial crop with a deep root system. But even a little stress caused by too much or too little water will have a negative effect on its growth, development and overall stand quality.
So as a lucerne grower, you’re dealing a sensitive, demanding crop and controlling for unpredictable climates. To achieve bigger yields and higher-quality crops you need a solution that maximises your control, conserves your resources and makes your day-to-day life easier.
Precision irrigation gives you total control over the lucerne root zone by using SDI (subsurface drip irrigation), delivering water and nutrients straight to the roots of each plant. It fits into any plot, and can be applied to all topographies, field sizes and soil types. So you can maintain optimal soil moisture and nutrient levels in all conditions, across your entire lucerne field.
And if you add digital controls to your system, you’ll be able to monitor and optimise your yield as it’s growing, gaining data about every aspect of your field and local climate. So wherever you are, however you grow, you can ensure consistently high, top-quality yields every season. And make even bigger profits.
Why should I choose precision irrigation over other, cheaper methods?
It’s true that precision irrigation isn’t the cheapest method. But it does ensure you grow higher lucerne yields of better quality, every season, in a range of challenging environments, using minimal resources.
Plus, since lucerne is such a thirsty, sensitive crop you’ll want to avoid wasting water and nutrients through methods like flood or pivot irrigation. And not just because those methods deplete your resources – they also throw them on the soil without directing them to plant roots, which jeopardises the uniformity of your crops.
How much will precision irrigation cost me per hectare?
The price depends on three things. First, how you’ll get water from the source to the field. Second, your peak crop water demand, which is governed by your climate conditions and crop canopy cover. And finally, your soil type, which will determine your emitter spacing. To give you a quote for cost per unit area, our agronomists would need to assess these factors, among others. Get in touch so we can get started.
Should I use surface or subsurface drip irrigation on my lucerne?
Subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) systems are most suitable for lucerne field operations. Compared with on-surface systems, SDI delivers additional benefits such as lower labor requirements, protection from agro-machinery interference, and enhanced water-use efficiency. SDI systems also favor modern tillage practices such as no-till or minimum tillage.
If I have a lot of rainfall, will drip still be a good investment?
Definitely. While having ample rainfall is obviously a huge advantage, the major disadvantage is that rainfall doesn’t allow you to control and optimise your lucerne’s nutrient delivery.
With precision irrigation, that nutrient delivery is targeted, dosed in controlled quantities according to your plants’ needs, so you can maintain consistent crop health and quality throughout the seasons. The technique is called ‘precision fertigation’, and it’s a core feature of every precision irrigation system.
What if I have an uneven topography or an irregularly shaped lucerne field?
Precision irrigation works just as well on uneven topographies. All you need is to install pressure-compensated (PC) dripperlines in your system, so water and nutrients are delivered to each plant with uniform flow rates – across your entire field.
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