Drip irrigation is a relatively new technology in sugarcane, which saves water and energy and increases profitability. In this way, drip irrigation helps to solve these problems, which are the biggest in the cultivation of irrigated sugarcane.
The most popular drip versions used in sugarcane are surface dripping and underground dripping.
• Surface drip irrigation: this is defined as the application of water on the surface of the soil in the form of drops or as a thin stream, through emitters located at a predetermined distance along the drip side. For sugarcane, the integral drip line is recommended.
• Irrigation by underground drip: corresponds to the application of water under the surface of the soil through emitters molded in the internal wall of the drip side, with flows that, generally, are within the same range as the flow rates of the surface drip irrigation integral.
This method of water application is different and should not be confused with the method in which the root zone is irrigated by the control of the water table, defined as underground irrigation. The integral drip side (thin or thick wall) is installed in the soil at a certain depth, which depends on the type of soil and the requirements of the crop.
The adoption of drip irrigation (surface or underground) in a sugarcane crop is technically feasible, economically viable and beneficial for many reasons:
• Greater uniformity in the application of water.
• Lower energy costs, due to the shorter pumping time required to irrigate a certain design area.
• Savings of up to 45-50% of water, which contributes to greater efficiency in the use of water.
• Fertilizer savings (25-30%) due to fertigation, with better efficiency in the use of fertilizers, and consequently greater agronomic efficiency, greater physiological efficiency and greater fraction of apparent recovery.
• Less growth of harmful plants and labor savings in weed control, fertirrigation and plant protection operations.
• Less incidence of pests and diseases due to better field health.
• Optimal soil-water-plant relationships contribute to better germination, uniform emergence in the field and maintenance of an optimal population of plants.
• Earlier harvest and more socks.
• It is possible to program the irrigation in the day and in the night.
• It facilitates the growth of the crop in marginal soils, due to the frequent irrigations and fertigation.
• The high frequency of irrigation, the micro-washing and the greater potential of water in the soil make it possible to use saline water for irrigation.
• Higher yields of cane and sugar.