James Adkins was a guest speaker informing UD students on the irrigation systems and why and how they’re used in agriculture.
So what is an irrigation system?
Irrigation is the application of controlled amounts of water to plants at needed intervals. Irrigation helps to grow agricultural crops, maintain landscapes, and revegetate disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of less than average rainfall.
Types of irrigation systems
-The oldest and most inefficient way of irrigation is flood irrigation. This process channels water into the field that is being irrigated.
-Pivot irrigation was invented after WWII using aluminum pipes. The pivot system allows for a customizable accurate application of water. This type of irrigation is expensive, with each span costing about $11,000.
-Drip irrigation is the most efficient way of irrigation. Drip irrigation puts water right into the soils, minimizing water contact with the plants thus reducing disease risks.
Irrigation is important and without it, we would be unable to sustain and grow the population we currently have. Only 20% of farmland is irrigated which produces over 40% of the worlds food supply comes from irrigated land. Delaware has 30% of its farmland irrigated, about 150,000 acres. Particularly Sussex County has 50% of its farmland irrigated because of the sandy soils. Advancements in technology have allowed irrigation systems to become efficient and better for the environment.
At September twenty-third, 2017, we went to the Fifer Orchards farm, which is located in Camden Wyoming, DE, one hour drive from the University of Delaware. It is a family farm and the fourth generation. What is more, It is the season of apples and pumpkins. We went to the apple picking area where tourist also can go to pick up apples by themselves. The field, next to it, is a huge area of the strawberry field. In the past, I thought the way to water them is rotating sprinklers on pipes. What I saw in the field is drip irrigation. Pipes are put inside of the soil and the soil is covered by black plastic materials. Drip irrigation is a slow process to provide water and fertilizer to plant roots. Because it is on the inside of the soil, it does well on keeping the perfect moisture and keeping the plant surface dry which saves water resource and reduces disease and pest problems.
Since they plant the variety of vegetable and fruit in different time of the seasons, there must be a most profitable one, which is the sweet corn. When we think about farm markets, we may think there may be a competition between the weekly farmer markets located across the state and the Fifer Orchards farm, but the fact is the Fifer Orchards farm sell products to them. In the end, we arrived their market shopping area. All kinds of delicious apples and pretty pumpkins. I am really glad I got the chance to visit here with my professors and classmates.