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!
The unique root system of the blueberry plant makes it a demanding crop to grow. It also requires a low pH and a very specific environment to reach the highest yields. Drip irrigation delivers fertilizers and nutrition precisely to the root zone, as and when needed, maintaining a consistently balanced environment.
Blueberries reach their full genetic potential when given the right amount of water and nutrients throughout the growing season. Accurate and frequent adjustment of nutrients and water means perfect size, taste and crispness. Drip irrigation provides the ideal growing conditions for blueberries by stabilizing, controlling and optimizing the irrigation and fertilization applications.
Drip irrigation uses 45% less water than micro sprayers, and 60% less water than sprinklers because it delivers the water directly to the plant roots. Other irrigation systems spray the plant canopy and the evaporated water is wasted.
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 fertilisers tend to contain more insoluble particles than chemical fertilisers 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 fertilisers 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 fertilisers 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 optimise your yields and resources.