This is very variable and depends on the following three factors:
- Conveyance of water from source to the field: normally this is the most expensive component of the irrigation system. It depends on the distance and elevation the water has to be conveyed by the pipelines.
- Peak crop water demand: Amount of water needed to apply to meet the peak crop evapotranspiration requirements during the crop peak demand. This is a function of prevailing climate conditions, crop canopy cover and efficiency of the irrigation system.
- Other considerations: The land topography of the design area - whether flat or undulated and the soil texture which determines the emitter spacing. For example, sugarcane on sandy soils require closer emitter spacing while clayey soil require wider emitter spacing that will have a significant impact on the system cost per unit area.
Since the drip technology was invented by Netafim in 1965, it proved itself to be technically feasible and economically viable under a large range of environments and crops, to include sugarcane. Drip was found to increase cane yields and number of ratoons as well as to improve the sucrose.
Drip technology also allows significant saving in water, fertilizers, labor and energy required for pumping water. In the long run, economic calculations show that drip is the most suitable system for modern sugarcane agriculture with higher economic returns.
The success of the sugarcane project depends on few crucial factors: Good agriculture practices like proper soil preparation, selecting the most suitable varieties for irrigation and fertilization, planting time, quality planting material, quality drip system components and irrigation design & timely harvesting.
For each project, Netafim provides the most customized solution package depending upon the local farm conditions, climate and management level of the customer that obviously differs from one project to the other.
Subsurface drip irrigation has shown to have many agro-technical advantages for sugarcane growers, besides the regular drip features. There is no need to recollect the dripline before every harvest cycle, the driplines are protected from agro-machinery damage, it permits using a thin wall dripline that significantly effect the cost and it applies the water and the fertilizers directly to the sugarcane root zone. Finally, the grower can apply all the crop agro-machinery activities without interfering with the day to day irrigation system protocols.
The accumulated field experience revealed that sugarcane raised under subsurface drip irrigation system can continue up to eight and/or more ratoons before field is renewed for a new crop cycle.
During the renewal of the field for new plant crop all the hydraulics such as pipes, pump, filters, etc., remain intact on the field for further use and only the dripline must be replaced. This fact represents around 50% of the total system cost per unit area.