With the new approach called “DripByDrip”, both water and crop protection are distributed throughout the fields via the drip irrigation system and then delivered directly to the roots of the crops.
The companies plan to launch the system in Mexico by the end of this year.
“To satisfy the increasing global food demand, we need to find clever solutions to further reduce the environmental impact of farming and save natural resources while assuring high agricultural productivity,” Bayer Crop Science’s head of strategy and portfolio management, Mathias Kremer said in a release.
“With the new system farmers will need less water and crop protection products, because the crops are taking them up directly through the roots.
“This enables them to develop well and protects them against pest and fungal infestations, which results in higher yields and better quality for farmers and consumers.”
The new approach is also expected to help farmers apply crop protection products in an easy and safe way.
“Being a closed transfer system, DripByDrip contributes to operator safety. And as it can be automated, it is also less labor intensive for the farmer,” Kremer emphasized.
Netafim CEO Ran Maidan said the new combined system was very much in line with the company’s purpose statement to “grow more with less”.
“Our drip irrigation has been used for many years as a delivery system for applying water and nutrients in a precise and timely manner to the plants’ roots, helping farmers to achieve higher and better crop yields while saving water,” Maidan said.
“Now, farmers will also be able to apply crop protection products in a more targeted way, to reduce their input of crop protection products, and use them in an even more effective and safe way.
“With DripByDrip, we will provide growers with an innovative, sustainable and easy-to-use solution, which combines technologies and know-how of smart crop protection with smart drip irrigation.”
Proven benefits for farmers and the environment
Bayer and Netafim have already conducted several trials, among others, on a farm in Mexico for peppers, tomatoes, melons and grapes.
“The test results showed that yields increased and net revenues rose due to improved quality, and the number of applications was also reduced significantly, in one trial even by 53 percent” said Holger Weckwert, project lead at Bayer.
Successful proof-of-concept trials were carried out also in Chile, Israel, Turkey, Spain and Brazil.
“Trials in sugarcane in Brazil have even shown a yield increase of 150 percent by using the right amounts of water, fertilizers and crop protection products via drip irrigation, compared to traditional flood irrigation, crop protection and fertilizer usage,” Weckwert added.
The drip irrigation system also demonstrably reduces the use of water.
“Tests have shown that water use efficiency is increased to up to 95 percent compared to 40 percent or less with traditional flood irrigation,” said Netafim’s corporate agronomy director Dubi Raz.
“Drip irrigation also increases the efficiency of fertilizer application, and helps prevent nitrate leaching into ground water, which becomes a serious hazard in agricultural regions that are using overdoses of nitrogen.”