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Water-Saving Irrigation Solutions for Reliable Harvests

23. June 2022 | 4 min read

Increasingly unreliable weather patterns pose additional challenges to 21st-century farmers. Dry periods are becoming longer while precipitation becomes sparser and more unevenly distributed during the vegetation period. To protect yields and ensure high crop quality, more and more farmers opt to invest in irrigation systems, even in areas that previously did not require it. A family farm in Slavonia, Croatia, chose a modern, water-saving irrigation setup for their 44-hectare orchard, and Pipelife is proud to have supported them from conception to installation.

The Kolić orchard with the new irrigation system | Pipelife

Bringing Traditions and Modernization Together

The Kolić family, living in Slavonia, Jarmina region, boasts a long farming history. They started growing apples already back in 1993. At that time, the family owned several small orchards and sold their harvest right on the doorstep. Today, with 78 hectares of orchards, Miroslav Kolić is one of the largest Croatian apple producers, and his goal is to expand to 100 hectares in the future.

The most common apple varieties grown in the Kolić farm are Royal Gala, Idared and Golden Delicious. Since different varieties of apples are grown in one orchard, the vegetation period is long. Historically, the region of Slavonia has had sufficient precipitation; however, the weather patterns have been becoming increasingly unpredictable in recent years. Furthermore, the precipitation periods are often not evenly distributed throughout the vegetation period, which can negatively affect the harvest. For these reasons, the Kolić family decided to invest in a modern irrigation system for one of their largest orchards.

A row of apple trees with Pipelife's drip irrigation system | Pipelife

INSTALLING AN AUTOMATED IRRIGATION AND FERTIGATION SYSTEM

The total irrigation area at the Kolić farm exceeds 44 hectares. The orchard here has been planted in several phases and is still being expanded. Since there was no previous irrigation system in place, Pipelife provided a complete solution based on a range of input parameters and customer needs.

The project began in late March by installing the main line, consisting of a total of 4350 meters of HDPE pipes with a diameter of DN 32 to DN 110. Afterward, the installation of over 100,000 meters of 20-mm pressure compensated PC drip pipe is planned, providing a constant flow rate of 1.25 l/h.

In order to have maximum control over the operation of the system, eliminate human errors in the irrigation process and ensure remote control via a mobile application, the system will be equipped with the most modern control unit GSI-PRO.

Drip Irrigation: Saving Water and Costs

Drip irrigation is considered one of the most water and nutrient-saving methods in agriculture. Studies show that, for fruits and vegetables, drip irrigation can save 17-43% of water compared to other methods. Water is added only in the root zone of the plant and there are no additional losses on evapotranspiration.

By choosing drip irrigation equipped with one of the most modern monitoring and control systems available, it is possible to dose water very precisely while reducing labor and creating more flexibility for the farmer.

Throughout the application, it is possible to adjust the exact amount of water and/or the duration of irrigation, whereby the system itself opens and closes individual valves.

A close-up of the new apple harvest | Pipelife
A flat drip line installed in the Kolić family orchard | Pipelife

360-Degree Service for Farmers

The Kolić family chose Pipelife’s products and services because a complete irrigation solution was provided together with comprehensive technical support from one supplier only. All system elements, including the pump, filtration equipment, fertigation, and automation to the pipeline for the main, secondary and lateral lines, were delivered to the client by Pipelife at the beginning of the installation. This was a crucial advantage, as no time was wasted on managing and waiting for additional deliveries or searching for specific parts or components.

Furthermore, Pipelife’s specialists tailored the entire irrigation setup to the specific requirements and field conditions of the orchard. In this case, the challenge was to divide a large, irregularly shaped area with different varieties of apples into zones and select the optimal position of the main and secondary lines. In addition, Pipelife offered supervision and consulting services in all phases of the project.

It is planned to complete the installation works in a few months. Once the irrigation setup is commissioned, Pipelife will provide after-sales support and a guarantee on spare parts for 24 months to ensure faultless performance and optimal conditions for the Kolić family orchard to thrive.

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