Drip... drip... drip

Regulated irrigation beckoning farmers

Sunday, April 05, 2015

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester-- Drip irrigation is helping to transform agriculture globally, and 25 year-old Jamaica Drip, a division of the innovative technology entity, Isratech Ltd, is striving to do its part.


Just over 20 farm equipment retailers and farmers turned up at Jamaica Drip's headquarters in Kendal, central Manchester, recently for a three-hour-long seminar on the finer points of drip irrigation.


Modern drip irrigation involves the slow, regulated supply of water and nutrients to individual plants, thereby boosting efficiency and reducing, if not eliminating, waste.


Countries such as Israel, with desert and semi-desert conditions involving very little rain and scarce surface water, have boosted agricultural production as a result of drip irrigation methods, experts say.


Seminar participants learnt from Jamaica Drip directors that the drip irrigation method allows water to be used as a conductor for nutrients to plants in "an efficient and uniformed way".


The process allows plants to be more resistant to diseases and insect attack than would be the case in unregulated conditions and also retards weed growth, participants heard.


Drip irrigation is also environmentally friendly since water is conserved and the slow supply of water to plants eliminates the risk of soil erosion, seminar hosts said.


Benjamin Hodara, marketing director, Jamaica Drip, told Jamaica Observer Central that a "typical" vegetable farmer on a quarter-acre lot would spend "probably between J$35,000 and J$50,000" on a "basic irrigation system" including piping, valves and other equipment.


That done, said Hodara, farmers would find that the outlay was money very well spent "once they stay the course and maintain correct principles and systems".


Farmer and retailer Radcliffe Nelson, who has used drip irrigation for the production of hot peppers, endorsed the method.


"The initial cost is high, but we see the benefits of it," he said. "It improves efficiency, eliminates soil erosion and all those things; and the maintenance cost is quite low."


-- Garfield Myers







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