Maximizing Yields Under Challenging Conditions: Blueberry Irrigation on Hilly Terrain

20. July 2023 | 6 min read

Modern irrigation and fertigation allow farmers to considerably enhance yields even when it comes to demanding crops and suboptimal field conditions. BB Crown Agro Group, a family-owned enterprise in Serbia, has become a profitable and recognized blueberry producer, despite their fields having clay soil and a 17% inclination. A semi-automatic pressure-compensated irrigation system designed by Pipelife has helped coin the farm's success.

Blueberry Field Irrigation in Serbia © Đorđe Agroklub

Pursuing a Dream

Andrija Becin is a blueberry farmer living in Obrenovac, Serbia. Five years ago, he decided to step away from safe employment in the power supply industry to follow his dream of having a family farm. This was the beginning of BB Crown Agro Group — an agricultural company which has quickly grown to 3.8 hectares and 17,000 blueberry plants, providing living and employment to the whole Becin family.

The growing export demand for blueberries in Serbia inspired Andrija to specialize in this crop; yet, blueberry farming turned out to be far from simple. The clay soils on the Becin orchard were not optimal for blueberries due to poor water permeability. Furthermore, the fields are located on a steep hillside with an inclination reaching 17%, which complicates irrigation and fertigation of the plants.

"Blueberry farming is different from any other fruit," Andrija admits. "To have maximum yields, everything must be taken care of, especially irrigation. The most important factor in blueberry farming is water, then everything else." 

Blueberry Field Irrigation in Serbia © Đorđe Agroklub
Andrija Becin turned to farming five years ago. Now, his orchard BB Crown Agro Group has grown to 3.8 hectares and has 17,000 blueberry plants.

Irrigation Challenges Resolved

Aware of the complex field conditions at their farm, the Becin family was looking for a tailored drip irrigation solution that would entail comprehensive technical support. They became interested in Pipelife's end-to-end irrigation service, covering system design, delivery, installation, and after-sales support.

After consulting with Pipelife's Irrigation Systems Development Manager, Dusan Jankovic, the Becins opted for a highly efficient pressure-compensated no-drain drip irrigation system. The carefully chosen setup guarantees uniform water distribution to every plant despite the uneven terrain. The complex system comprises 940 meters of PE water supply pipes, over 7,000 meters of lateral lines, an acid injection system for regulating soil PH levels, and almost 9,000 PCND (pressure-compensated no-drain) drippers.

The irrigation season in the orchard lasts for six months. The plants are grown in bags filled with a special substrate and irrigated 3-4 times per day for a period of 15 minutes. During heatwaves, the irrigation frequency can be increased to 6 times per day.

"Under these conditions and slope, I don't think modern blueberry production would be even possible without pressure compensated and no-drain drippers," Andrija says. "We are using spider drippers, which are the latest trend in blueberry farming."

Moreover, the system is equipped with a modern MINIAGG 6 control unit. Blueberries require a substrate pH between 4 and 5.5, and the optimal electrical conductivity of irrigation water should be ~1mS/cm. Reliance on semi-automatization allows for quick setup and modifications of a highly accurate dosing schedule, including the desired supply of water, fertilizers and acid injection.

"Since blueberry farming is so intricate, a semi-automatic control system made it easier for me to experiment and learn what works best for my fields," Andrija explains. "What I particularly appreciate is that Dusan has always been one call away. Especially while I was learning to operate the system, I could always reach out to him, and together, we resolved any issues. With the knowledge I have acquired now, I feel confident to modernize my farm further and move to a fully automatic setup."

Blueberry Field Irrigation in Serbia © Đorđe Agroklub
Blueberry Field Irrigation in Serbia © Đorđe Agroklub

A Success Story That Keeps Growing

Due to the many challenges blueberry farmers in Serbia face, they often keep in touch and exchange knowledge. Andrija believes that such close cooperation is key to securing and strengthening their position in export markets.

As BB Crown Agro Group has become a profitable and well-known blueberry producer in the area, Andrija now plans to further expand his own orchard as well as offer consultations and advice to blueberry farmers who might still be struggling to achieve high yields.

"We have an excellent relationship with Pipelife, which we would like to extend and continue working together. I also have some ideas about supporting other orchards in cooperation with Dusan and Pipelife," Andrija says. "I think that blueberry farmers have to support each other — we are all partners, not competitors." 

Get in Touch

Please choose your preferred way to get in contact with us. We will get back to you as soon as possible.



Frequently Downloaded

Find here the most popular downloads

Download Center
Did you not find what you are looking for?

Find a country near you

Get in Touch with our Team

Please choose which way you want to get in contact with us. We will contact you as soon as possible.


Call back service
We will get in touch with you by phone
E-Mail service
We will get in touch with you by e-mail