Drip-irrigation research sees ‘large’ discount in water, fertilizer use for candy corn – Food Weblog

Study by UCCE advisor in Imperial County additionally reveals 5% enhance in yield

A brand new research means that drip irrigation for candy corn can considerably preserve water, cut back fertilizer use and enhance crop yield within the low desert of California – and sure in different areas of the state with related situations.

Although Imperial County is California’s high candy corn-producing county, with about 8,000 acres planted on common annually, irrigation strategies for this crop have been not often studied on this area (or wherever else within the state), based on Ali Montazar, UC Cooperative Extension irrigation and water administration advisor for Imperial, Riverside and San Diego counties.

A field of corn under drip irrigation

A drip-irrigated candy corn trial subject in Westmorland, Imperial County. Photo by Ali Montazar

Montazar carried out a research within the Imperial Valley over two crop seasons, 2020-21 and 2021-22, to reveal and quantify the potential advantages of switching to drip irrigation from the extra frequent furrow irrigation methodology. The research, obtainable in a latest situation of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Agricultural Briefs, will probably be printed in a future situation of Vegetables West.

“I’m hoping with this challenge we are able to encourage growers to undertake it, as a result of it appears very promising,” stated Montazar, noting that drip irrigation is a “new follow” for candy corn in California.

Among the 11 business candy corn fields within the research over the 2021-22 season, the six that have been below drip irrigation used, on common, 37% much less water than the 5 below furrow irrigation. In absolute phrases, the drip-irrigated fields noticed a median water financial savings of two.2 acre-feet per acre; for Montazar, who has studied drip for a wide range of crops within the Imperial Valley, that was an astonishing consequence.

“I’ve labored with drip on processed onions, lettuce, alfalfa, spinach … we have by no means seen a determine like 2.2 acre-feet per acre, that is large,” he stated, attributing the dramatic drop-off to the excessive quantity of water required to furrow-irrigate the sandy soil within the Imperial Valley.

Filtration system for sweet corn field drip irrigation

Filtration is essential in drip irrigation, because it removes sediment and different particles that may clog the system. Photo by Ali Montazar

More environment friendly irrigation additionally means much less fertilizer is required – a boon to the setting and Salton Sea water high quality, in addition to growers’ backside line. With fertilizer costs persevering with to rise, candy corn growers utilizing drip might see a considerable 25% price financial savings on fertilizer bills – about $150 per acre much less – in comparison with furrow irrigation, based on Montazar’s research.

And by relieving crops of the stress from over- and under-irrigated situations, drip irrigation helps hold soil moisture at its “candy spot” – leading to a 5% enhance in marketable crop yield for candy corn within the research.

“When we’ve got a greater, extra environment friendly irrigation system, we are able to preserve soil moisture at a desired stage, over time and area,” Montazar defined.

Because the advantages of drip look like linked to soil situations (sandy loam, and different gentle soils), Montazar believes that this irrigation follow might ship comparatively related water and fertilizer financial savings and improved crop yield in different areas throughout California, no matter climactic variations.

“If you utilize drip in any a part of the state, you may have the advantages of drip – extra uniform water utility, extra uniform fertilizer – that is not associated to the desert,” he stated. “That’s a part of the system’s potential.”

Montazar plans to observe up on his preliminary research with extra analysis on candy corn and drip irrigation throughout the 2022-23 crop season.