This is the first of several blog posts, in which I will be hosting Netafim’s agronomic experts, product managers, and regional experts, who will discuss how our sustainability approach is translated into technologies, products, and best practices. In this post Natan Barak, Netafim’s Marketing Director, will discuss nano-irrigation, Netafim’s latest technological breakthrough. I hope you enjoy it.
Introducing Nano-Irrigation – Netafim’s Ultra Low Flow Irrigation Technology
By: Natan Barak, Netafim’s Marketing Director
Drip irrigation has come a long way. The first generations dripper clearly showed the validity of the drip concept, and especially proved that by providing water and nutrients (Nutrigation™) to the plant at a slow pace, increases the yields, improves the quality and reduces the plant’s stress.
At the time there was a common misconception that lower flow wouldn’t provide continues wetted zone along the planting row. But since then, we were able to prove that exactly the opposite is the case.
Lower flow rate, means optimal horizontal distribution of the water, resulting in a wider wetted “bulb”. This results in more yield and better quality crops while using fewer resources (water, nutrients and energy).
The economic advantages include:
- Reduction of the water used: since the irrigation efficiency gets near to the 100%, there is no need to apply overdosing of water.
- Reduces amount of fertilizers: since the fertilizer is efficiently distributed at the active root-zone level, the plant receives a high percentage of the amount distributed, leading to lower quantities of applied fertilizer.
- Reduces capital equipment: Since the water flow-rate is lower, it is possible to utilize lighter/smaller infrastructure (tubing, valves, etc.) thereby lowering system cost.
Facing the challenges of ultra flow irrigation
Reducing the flow rate requires smaller water passages in the dripper, and smaller water passages are, of course, more susceptible to clogging. So we were faced with the technological challenge of making extremely small water passages that would not be sensitive to clogging, without requiring extra external protection systems.
We achieved the technological breakthrough by introducing a new and innovative technology, the TurbuNext™ labyrinth, which assures improved clogging resistance.
This additional flow reduction made the whole infrastructure of the system lighter – lower pressure meant less pumping required from water sources, which in turn meant less energy requirements. These lower energy requirements resulted in less gas released into the atmosphere, making the entire system more environmental friendly, while also increasing yields and improving the quality of the crops.
Advancing from micro-irrigation to nano-irrigation
The TurbuNext technology, with flow rates of up to 0.4 l/h is a true revolution and a major technological breakthrough. Today, Netafim has installed Turbunext in all its drippers and dripperlines, enabling drip irrigation at any flow to be more efficient. Netafim has succeeded in doing what was previously considered impossible – lowering the flows to nano-irrigation levels.
Today, more than half the drippers that Netafim sells to the world have low flow of 1 liter per hour and less. We feel very satisfied that we have achieved world-breaking low flow of 0.4 liter per hour. But we aren’t stopping here. We are currently developing technologies that support continuous nano-irrigation, which supplies water according to the crop’s needs. This next step will further the quality of crops and offer substantial economical and environmental benefits.