France is a major player in the global production of potatoes. It is one of the major European producers of ware potatoes, destined for both the fresh produce and industrial processing sectors and it is one of the leading countries for exporting the majority of its production (70 to 75%) to Europe and beyond.
An enviable situation
Thanks to its very proficient producers, France excels in an activity that has become very technical since the war: research work carried out – on the varieties (specialisation and diversification, disease resistance, drought tolerance, yield and quality parameters….), on the soil (tendancy to mound up the soil around the crop) and, finally, on the irrigation methods – have had the effect of optimising the yields (irrigation has become more and more important for the success achieved in the production because the periods of drought are recurring more and more.
The hose reel method is the first choice for irrigation but there is great interest being shown in solutions of the future, such as drip irrigation with its savings on water, reduced labour cost as a result of automation and monitoring and increased yields due to ferti-irrigation. It has become a real alternative solution and could provide the answer for the producers. It is just as suitable for the potatoes grown for the fresh potato market (specialisation and segmentation, for valorisation and differentiation) as it is for that of industrial processing (growth in demand, especially for export).
KEY FACTORS CONTRIBUTING TOWARDS THE SUCCESS
- • Source of water for irrigation: having the possibility to irrigate – having access to the water and the necessary equipment.
- • Financial capacity: Being in a position to invest in the production and storage equipment
- • Responsiveness: Having the tools to be able to react quickly to changing circumstances (frequent periods of drought, etc.)
- • Labour: Having it available at harvest time and having the possibility to increase the labour force during the harvesting period.
- • The market and marketing: Guaranteeing the volumes sold to certain customers in order to limit the volatility risk, which is quite significant in this sector.
PRECISION IRRIGATION FOR THE POTATO CROP
Precision irrigation using the drip method is the solution for changing the economics of agriculture. This allows the farmers to increase their productivity while reducing the consumption of water, fertilisers and energy. It protects our planet from hardships such as food shortages and desertification.
A CROP THAT DEMANDS A LOT OF WATER
Due to its very shallow rooting system, the potato is a crop that is extremely sensitive to water stress. This is harmful for the development and composition of the tubers. Irrigation allows the producer to manage the harvest and guarantee a constant flow of the products for the processing plants or customers.
DRIP IRRIGATION: THE ECO RESPONSIBLE SOLUTION WITH THE BEST RETURN ON INVESTMENT
Drip irrigation is the most worthwhile investment. It is also the ecologically responsible solution for conserving the water resource while still responding to the needs of the crop. Conserving the water resource will be a worldwide challenge over the next few years. Using these micro-irrigation solutions allows for optimal irrigation efficiency with perfect uniformity of distribution (a possible 20% saving on water compared with irrigation by hose reel) and this applies to all shapes and sizes of the fields and topographies.
A fixed drip irrigation system, which is easily automated, does not require any further labour input during the season; it is not vulnerable to cross winds and does not cause compaction; it leads to a reduction in diseases such as mildew; and saves on energy. It is for all these reasons that drip irrigation results in a yield of better quality and quantity than other methods, attributable, in particular, to fertigation and an independent central control system.
THE SOLUTION FOR THE FRESH POTATO MARKET
- • 1 thin walled drip line on each mound all buried at 3 cm:
- – Suitable for all types of production;
- – More efficient application of water – savings on water 10-20% vis-à-vis the hose reel;
- – Fertigation – more efficient application of fertilisers.
- • Optimal irrigation quality:
- – High level of irrigation uniformity in the mound;
- – Reduces the occurrence of common scab.
Trials carried out on a representative plot in France of 30 ha of potatoes to study the effects of 3 methods: non irrigated, irrigated by hose reel and irrigated by the drip system.
Robust and recyclable thin walled drip line.
- • Spacing between drippers: between 0.3 m to 0.4 m.
- • Flow rate: 0.35 and 0.72 l/h.
- • Average burial depth: – 2 cm.
- • I drip line per row (standard crop density).
A SOLUTION FOR THE INDUSTRIAL OR SEED POTATO MARKET
- • I thick-walled drip line laid between two mounds;
- – Drip irrigation between rows provides a better opportunity for installation and removal;.
- – Possibility of laying drip irrigation after emergence, removal without the risk of greening of the tubers.
– Seed and industrial potatoes: Trials carried out on a representative plot in France of 30 ha of potatoes according to 3 methods: non irrigated, irrigated by hose reel and irrigated by the drip system.
Thick-walled drip line provides subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) with perfect uniformity, even in complex topographies, due to its self-adjusting mechanism.
- • Spacing between drippers: between 0.4 m and 0.75 m.
- • Flow rate: 0.6, 1 and 1.6 l/h.
- • Thickness: 1 or 1.2 mm.
- • 1 drip line between 2 rows.
A deeper understanding leads to increased profitability. Precision irrigation is made completely efficient through the use of decision-making tools.
That is why the technologies of automation and data analysis bring agriculture up to another level. By integrating and automating the whole irrigation sector, we are helping the farmers to make better decisions – while reducing the consumption of the resources. This now represents a massive step forward in the optimisation of irrigation with smart irrigation systems, which monitoring, analysis and control in real time.