Cultivation/Production, Europe, UK, Ireland, Smart Farming

How a trickle approach can cut potato irrigation energy costs

Diesel and electricity are the main energy sources used to pump water through irrigation systems. It was, therefore, a double whammy when last year’s high prices hit potato growers in what was one of the driest summers on record.

It may have led some to think about alternative forms of irrigation, such as trickle (also known as drip), which uses less water and energy than its overhead counterparts. But the choice is not straightforward, as Marianne Curtis reports in an article for Farmers Weekly.

Irrigating 472ha of potatoes, onions, parsnips and carrots cost Andrew Blenkiron – who farms south of Thetford in Suffolk – £230,00 in electricity last season, compared with £70,000 the season before (in 2021).

He uses 20 reels: 18 rain gun and two boom irrigators. “It is better in terms of water use efficiency, but you need to balance that out. At the moment, for us, it doesn’t pay…”

Andrew Howseman, managing director at Howseman Agriculture, which installs drip irrigation for potatoes and onions, says this irrigation method has the potential to reduce diesel/electric use by 30%.

Source: Farmers Weekly. Read the full story here
Photo: Credit Gary Naylor via Farmers Weekly

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