Types of irrigation for potato crops

There are four common methods used in potato crops irrigation: overhead rain guns, boom irrigation, sprinkler systems and drip irrigation. Find out about their efficiency and costs involved.

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Overhead rain guns

Overhead rain guns are the main method of application and are cheap and versatile. They can be efficient, but are prone to uneven application, which can lead to over-watering in some areas. They need correct management of pressure, nozzle size and gun angle to account for variable application conditions.

Boom irrigation

Boom irrigation improves uniformity of water application, especially for scab control, but use can be restricted due to topography, layout, ‘field furniture’ and soil type. High application rates can lead to run-off, soil slumping and ridge erosion.

Sprinkler systems

Sprinkler systems reduce the labour requirement during the season and offer improved uniformity and the ability to apply small doses frequently, but capital costs are higher. Sensitive soils are protected from structural damage.

Drip irrigation

Drip irrigation is more costly, but can be highly effective, applying water uniformly across large areas, if the pipe and emitter spacing are appropriate for the soil texture. Its operation needs careful management, including use of probes to measure soil water. It is possible to use less than one line per row with heavier soils, which can improve irrigation efficiency by up to 32 per cent.