U.S. Water News Online
TUCSON, Ariz. -- A University of Arizona study of
underground drip irrigation could help farmers save water and
increase crop yields, researchers say.
According to the state Department of Water Resources, agriculture
accounts for about 70 percent of Arizona's water use. Researchers say
that switching to a subsurface drip irrigation system could cut
farmers' water use by 25 to 50 percent.
The study, called AZdrip, looks at a subsurface drip irrigation
system installed on a 4-acre plot about 20 miles northwest of Casa
The goal is to show that subsurface irrigation can be a viable
alternative to flood irrigation, which is used on about 95 percent of
Arizona crops, said Thomas L. Thompson, a UA professor in the
Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science.
So far, researchers have grown watermelons and broccoli.
Other potential crop benefits of drip irrigation include safer
application of pesticides, which can be dangerous if applied above
ground, and increased crop yields from more efficient watering,
Farmers have a hard time justifying drip irrigation because water
is relatively cheap and drip systems can cost from $500 to $2,000 per
acre to install, Thompson said.
The study has been funded for three more years.
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