Drip and trickle benefits likely to raise interest
Impending requirement for a
licence seems unlikely to
dampen growers interest
in drip irrigation.
Edward Long reports
WITH no need for an abstraction licence to date, drip and trickle irrigation has become popular with potato growers and others wanting to use water efficiently.
"Such systems currently have only a 1-2% share of the market," says Trevor Fuller of Fuller Water Systems of Ixworth in Suffolk. "But there is a lot of grower interest so they could easily take 10% within five years despite the expected changes in licensing arrangements.
"Recent interest centred on the lack of need for a licence, but this anomaly could not last for ever.
"Even so other advantages are still valid. With improved targeting there is potential water saving of 20-35% which for growers with a limited licence will pay dividends."
Growers installing drip or trickle systems also benefit because crops never have to wait for water, which results in higher yields of more uniform tubers, he adds.
The capital cost of drip system infrastructure for 8ha (20 acres) is about £5000. This reduces if clear borehole water is available, but rises with supplies from rivers or reservoirs which need more filtering.
Drip pipe costs £1600-£1730/ha (£650-£700/acre) and can be written off over 10 years.
• Growing interest.
• Under licence soon.
• Efficient water use.
• Fertigation scope.