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Irrigation Guidelines for

Better Blueberry Production


David Bryla
USDA-ARS Horticultural Crops Research Unit
Corvallis, Oregon
Blueberry is sensitive to soil water deficits
Even within a few days without rain or irrigation, water
stress develops quickly in blueberry

Under-irrigated plants
• reduced photosynthesis
• less growth
• lower yields

Water deficits
When is Irrigation Needed?

Marion County, OR Barton County, MO


3.0

2.5

2.0
Rainfall (in.)

1.5
Blueberry harvest
Effective
1.0 rainfall
threshold
0.5 23 d
18 d 11 d 10 d 12 d
9d 25 d 19 d 69 d 10 d 9d

0.0
Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct

2011 2011
Rapid onset of water stress in blueberry

Leaf water potential declined as predicted As leaf water potential began to decline after
when soil water was depleted over time 3 to 4 days, transpiration also declined

Elliott Elliott

Predawn
0.0 70
Irrigated
60
Leaf water potential (MPa)

-0.5

Transpiration (ml/h)
50
-1.0
Midday
40
-1.5 Non-irrigated

30
-2.0
Onset of leaf wilting
20
-2.5
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Days without water Days without water


Stress symptoms include:

Plant process Water stress level


Mild Severe

Reduced shoot growth

Increased root growth

Reduced water use

Reduced photosynthesis

Leaf wilting

Leaf death/senescence
Drought Stage Effects on Yield

Bluecrop
3500
a
3000 100%

b b
2500 79% b
78%
Yield (g/plant)

74%
2000

1500

1000

500

0
Control Fruit growth Ripening Harvest

Moderate water deficits

Mingeau et al. (2001)


Drought Stage Effects on Flower Induction

Bluecrop
1400

a a
1200 100% 102% a
96%
Flower buds per plant

1000 a
91%

800
b
600 53%

400

200

0
Control Fruit growth Ripening Harvest Post-harvest

Moderate water stress

Mingeau et al. (2001)


Blueberry is also very sensitive to flooding
Plants take 2 weeks to fully recover

Over-irrigated plants
• reduced root function
• increased soil erosion
& nutrient leaching
• higher incidence of root
rot diseases

Flooding
„Perfect‟ Irrigation

Transpiration

Irrigation

Rainfall
Evaporation

Depends on: Runoff


• weather conditions
• soil texture
Deep
• plant size & stage of
development percolation
• cultural practices
Study 1
Irrigation Methods
Blueberry Irrigation in Oregon

Sprinklers Drip

Most commercial blueberry fields are


irrigated by sprinklers or drip
Irrigation is applied once or twice a week by sprinklers
and every 1-3 days by drip
Overhead sprinkler Drip
Advantages: Advantages:
• Frost protection • Water control &
• Maintain a cover crop distribution uniformity
• Cool the crop in hot • Fertigation & other
weather chemical application
• Wash dust off before • Improved cultural
harvest practices
drip • Less health concerns
lines
Disadvantages: Disadvantages:
• Low WUE • Filtration required
• Limits field access • Higher maintenance
• Promotes weed • More expensive
growth
• Increases disease wetting wetting
problems front front
A few growers are also testing microsprays
on blueberry, which potentially offers
advantages of both sprinklers and drip
Given the same amount of water, microspray irrigation
produced higher yields than drip in Chile

12
'Bluetta'
10
Microspray
8
Yield (t/ha)

6 Drip

0
2 3 4 5 6 7
Years after planting

Holzapfel et al. (2004)


2004 Irrigation Study
Three irrigation systems…
…two cultivars…
…and three irrigation rates

Sprinklers

Drip

Irrigation rates:
Cultivars: • 50% ET (deficient)
c
• „Duke‟ • 100% ETc (optimum)
• „Elliott‟ • 150% ETc (excessive)
Microsprays
ETc = crop evapotranspiration
Objective: Identify the best irrigation method for
growth, production, and water use efficiency in blueberry

Irrigation manifold

Planted April 2004


Irrigation systems
Sprinklers Microsprays Drip

One line per


20 x 20 ft. spacing, A 6 gph emitter
row with 0.5
1.5 gpm sprinkler located between
gph emitters
heads every other plant
every 12 in.

wetting wetting wetting


front front front

• irrigated 2x‟s/week • irrigated 3-4x‟s/week • irrigated 3-4x‟s/week


• efficiency - 35% • efficiency - 68% • efficiency - 90%
Drip produced the
most growth in both
cultivars in Year 1
In year 2, drip continued to produce the largest
plants in Elliott – but no longer in Duke

50% ETc A
600 100% ETc a
150% ETc AB
B
500 ab
bc bc a-c
Plant dry weight (g/plant)

bc

bc cd
400 C C b-d
de
de
de e
300
ef ef
D
200
fg
g g
100

0
Sprink. Microspr. Drip Sprink. Microspr. Drip
Duke Elliott
Duke was smaller with drip
and growth was quite variable

Drip irrigated at 100% ETc


Duke was infected by Phytophthora; Elliott was not
30
50% ETc
100% ETc
Root samples
25 150% ETc
a were plated &
assessed for
Infected root fragments (%)

20 ab
Phytophthora
ab

15 b-d a-c
b-d

10

c-e
5
de
de

e e e e e e e e e
0
Sprinkler Microspray Drip Sprinkler Microspray Drip

Duke Elliott
Root rot reduced growth in Duke –
especially with drip

Note the level of


shading in each
treatment
Microsprays

Drip

Sprinklers

Based on plant-free soil


samples, it appears the
problem originated with
the planting stock Drip treatment
Elliott – Year 2

Sprinkler
Microspray
Drip
0.60

0.55
100% 150%
Total dry wt. (kg/plant)

0.50

0.45 150%
100%
50%
100%
0.40
150%

0.35 50%
50%

0.30

0.25
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80

Irrigation (in.)
Elliott was first cropped in Year 3
while Duke was cropped the following year
Marketable Fruit Production (2006-2010)

Duke Elliott
5.5 12
Microspray
Microspray
5.0
10

4.5 Sprinkler Sprinkler

8
Yield (ton/acre)

4.0 Drip

3.5 6

3.0 Drip
4
Microsprays produced
2.5 highest yields in Elliott
Drip caused (so far)
2
2.0 severe problems with
root rot in Duke
1.5 0
3 4 5 6 7 3 4 5 6 7

Years after planting Years after planting


Summary (healthy plants)
Overhead sprinkler Microspray Drip

Early growth* • Highest @ 150% ETc • Highest @ 100% ETc

• Highest @ 100-150% • Highest @ 100-150%


Fruit production ETc (years 4-7) ETc (years 3-4)

• Increased fruit firmness • Wide range of effects • Consistently increased


Fruit quality • Increased mold in depending on the fruit size & berry
Duke amount of water applied ripeness

• Required only 17-22%


Water use of the water needed with
sprinklers & microsprays

*Sprinklers & microsprays can reduce problems with root rot.


Study 2
Nitrogen Fertigation
Blueberry Fertigation
Goal: “4R” Nutrient Stewardship

“Right”
source
“Right”
time

“Right”
place “Right” rate

Many new blueberry plantings are irrigated by drip


(“Acid-loving” plant; prefers NH4+-N)
Objectives:

• Compare fertigation to conventional granular


fertilizer application

• Identify the best fertigation rates for maximum


growth and production
Study was planted in March 2006

Control
Weekly fertigation Granular (drip)
(liquid urea) (ammonium sulfate)
0 lbs/acre N 0 lbs/acre N
45 lbs/acre N 45 lbs/acre N
90 lbs/acre N 90 lbs/acre N
135 lbs/acre N 135 lbs/acre N

Control Standard (soil pH 5.9)


Split fertigation Granular (microspray)
(liquid urea) (ammonium sulfate)
0 lbs/acre N 0 lbs/acre N
45 lbs/acre N 45 lbs/acre N
90 lbs/acre N 90 lbs/acre N
135 lbs/acre N 135 lbs/acre N
Visible Near-infrared

15 45
2006 (Year 1) 2007 (Year 2)
14
40
13
12 35
Canopy cover (%)

Canopy cover (%)


11
30
10
9 25
8
20
7
6 15
Weekly fertigation (drip) Weekly fertigation (drip)
5 Split fertigation (drip) Split fertigation (drip)
Granular fertilizer (drip) 10 Granular fertilizer (drip)
4
Granular fertilizer (microspray) Granular fertilizer (microspray)
3 5
0 45 90 135 0 45 90 135

N application (lbs/acre) N application (lbs/acre)


2.4 2006 (Year 1) 2.4 2007 (Year 2)

Weekly fertigation
2.1 2.1
Split fertigation
Granular (drip)
Granular (microspray)

Leaf N (%)
Leaf N (%)

1.8 1.8

1.5 1.5

1.2 Weekly fertigation 1.2


Split fertigation
Granular (drip)
Granular (microspray)
0.9 0.9
0 45 90 135 0 45 90 135

N application (lbs/acre) N application (lbs/acre)

1.50 1.75 2.00 2.50


deficient below normal above excess
normal normal
Granular fertilizer (drip or microspray) – 90-135 lbs/acre N

Discolored leaves Necrotic & senesced leaves

Dead canes Dead plants


Weekly fertigation – 135 lbs/acre N
2006 (Year 1)
70

0 lbs/acre
60 45 lbs/acre
90 lbs/acre
135 lbs/acre
50
Dead plants (%)

40

30

20

10

0
Weekly Split Granular Granular
fertigation fertigation (drip) (microspray)
Fertilizer application
Soil solution samplers

Soil solution sampler


0 lbs/acre N
45 lbs/acre N
90 lbs/acre N
135 lbs/acre N

3 Weekly fertigation 210 Granular (drip)


180 Fertilizer applications

150
NH4+-N (ppm)

NH4+-N (ppm)
2
120

90
1
60

30

0 0
Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov

2007 2007

15 Split fertigation 1000 Granular (microspray)


Fertilizer applications Fertilizer applications
12 800
NH4+-N (ppm)

NH4+-N (ppm)

9 600

6 400

3 200

0 0
Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov

2007 2007
0 lbs/acre N
45 lbs/acre N
90 lbs/acre N
135 lbs/acre N
Electrical conductivity (mS cm-1)

Electrical conductivity (mS cm-1)


3 Weekly fertigation 5 Granular (drip)
Fertilizer applications
4
2
3

2
1
1

0 0
Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov

2007 2007
Electrical conductivity (mS cm-1)

Electrical conductivity (mS cm-1)


3 Split fertigation 12 Granular (microspray)
Fertilizer applications 10 Fertilizer applications

2 8

1 4

0 0
Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov

2007 2007
0 lbs/acre N
45 lbs/acre N
90 lbs/acre N
135 lbs/acre N

200 Weekly fertigation 200 Granular (drip)


Fertilizer applications
150 150
NO3--N (ppm)

NO3--N (ppm)
100 100

50 50

0 0
Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov

2007 2007

200 Split fertigation 500 Granular (microspray)


Fertilizer applications Fertilizer applications
400
150
NO3--N (ppm)

NO3--N (ppm)

300
100
200

50
100

0 0
Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov

2007 2007
Visible Near-infrared

15 45
2006 (Year 1) 2007 (Year 2)
14
40
13
12 35
Canopy cover (%)

Canopy cover (%)


11
30
10
9 25
8
20
7
6 15
Weekly fertigation (drip) Weekly fertigation (drip)
5 Split fertigation (drip) Split fertigation (drip)
Granular fertilizer (drip) 10 Granular fertilizer (drip)
4
Granular fertilizer (microspray) Granular fertilizer (microspray)
3 5
0 45 90 135 0 45 90 135

N application (lbs/acre) N application (lbs/acre)


2.4 2006 (Year 1) 2.4 2007 (Year 2)

Weekly fertigation
2.1 2.1
Split fertigation
Granular (drip)
Granular (microspray)

Leaf N (%)
Leaf N (%)

1.8 1.8

1.5 1.5

1.2 Weekly fertigation 1.2


Split fertigation
Granular (drip)
Granular (microspray)
0.9 0.9
0 45 90 135 0 45 90 135

N application (lbs/acre) N application (lbs/acre)

1.50 1.75 2.00 2.50


deficient below normal above excess
normal normal
Most Important Findings in Years 1 & 2:

1. Weekly fertigation was better than granular fertilizer


or split fertigation…

…but required much more N fertilizer than granular.

2. Granular fertilizer applied at high rates damaged or


even killed the plants…

…and at lower rates was ineffective with drip.

3. Ammonium sulfate was no better than urea at


reducing soil pH (5.2 by end of year 1) – “Right form”.
Changed two of the treatments in 2008 (Year 3)

Continuous fertigation
(N-pHURIC)
120 lbs N/acre

Weekly fertigation Granular


Granular
(microspray)
(drip)
(liquid urea) (ammonium
(urea)sulfate)
0 lbs/acre N 0 lbs/acre N
60 45 lbs/acre N 60
45 lbs/acre N
120 90 lbs/acre N 120
90 lbs/acre
lbs/acre N
N
180 135 lbs/acre N 180
135 lbs/acre N

Weekly
Split fertigation
fertigation Granular (microspray)
(ammonium
(liquid urea)sulfate) (ammonium sulfate)
0 lbs/acre N 0 lbs/acre N
60
45 lbs/acre N 60 45 lbs/acre N
120
90 lbs/acre
lbs/acre NN 120 90 lbs/acre N
135
180 lbs/acre N 180 135 lbs/acre N
0 lbs/acre N
60 lbs/acre N
120 lbs/acre N
180 lbs/acre N

10 Weekly fertigation (urea) 210 Granular (urea)


9
180 Fertilizer applications
8
7 150
NH4+-N (ppm)

NH4+-N (ppm)
6 120
5
4 90
3 60
2
30
1
0 0
Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov

2008 2008

Granular (ammonium sulfate)


24 Weekly fertigation (ammonium sulfate) 3000
Fertilizer applications
21
2500
18
NH4+-N (ppm)

NH4+-N (ppm)

2000
15
12 1500
N-pHURIC
9
1000
6
500
3
0 0
Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov

2008 2008
0 lbs/acre N
60 lbs/acre N
120 lbs/acre N
180 lbs/acre N
Electrical conductivity (mS cm-1)

Electrical conductivity (mS cm-1)


3 Weekly fertigation (urea) 7 Granular (urea)
6 Fertilizer applications

5
2
4

3
1
2

0 0
Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov

2008 2008

Granular (ammonium sulfate)


Electrical conductivity (mS cm-1)

Electrical conductivity (mS cm-1)


3 Weekly fertigation (ammonium sulfate) 25
Fertilizer applications

20
2
15

N-pHURIC 10
1
5

0 0
Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov

2008 2008
0 lbs/acre N
60 lbs/acre N
120 lbs/acre N
180 lbs/acre N

800 Weekly fertigation (urea) 800 Granular (urea)


Fertilizer applications
600 600
NO3--N (ppm)

NO3--N (ppm)
400 400

200 200

0 0
Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov

2008 2008

800 Weekly fertigation (ammonium sulfate) 800 Granular (ammonium sulfate)

600 600 Fertilizer applications


NO3--N (ppm)

NO3--N (ppm)

400 400

200 N-pHURIC 200

0 0
Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov

2008 2008
Plants were first cropped in 2008 (Year 3)
Fertigation (ammonium sulfate) - [previously split fertigation]
Fertigation (urea)
Granular (ammonium sulfate)
Granular (urea) - [previously granular (drip)]

1.2 2.2 4.5


2008 (Year 3) 2009 (Year 4) 2010 (Year 5)
a a
1.0 2.0 a 4.0 a
a a a a a a
a a a a a
0.8 1.8

Yield (kg/plant)
Yield (kg/plant)
Yield (kg/plant)

a a ab a
a a 3.5
a a
a a
0.6 b 1.6 a ab
b a ab
b
a b b 3.0
a b a
0.4 1.4 b a b bc
b NS
F ** F a F **
N ** b N ** 2.5 N **
0.2 F xN ** 1.2 F xN ** a F xN * c
a
0.0 1.0 2.0
0 60 120 180 0 67 133 200 0 75 150 225
N application (lb/acre) N application (lb/acre) N application (lb/acre)

1 kg = 2.2 lbs
Most Important Findings in Years 3-6:

1. Weekly fertigation produced higher yields than


granular ammonium sulfate…

…but less N fertilizer was needed than the first 2


years.

2. Soil EC was again very high when N fertilizer was


applied as granular ammonium sulfate…

…but less when applied as granular urea.


Study 3
Water & Fertilizer Placement
Correct Location

Many growers use two lines of drip


Why?
Greenhouse evidence for no lateral transfer of water

• Shoot dry weight – 148.2 g • Shoot dry weight – 23.0 g


• Leaf dry weight – 12.8 g • Leaf dry weight – 4.5 g
• Number of new shoots – 16 • Number of new shoots – 6
• Avg. shoot length – 9 mm • Avg. shoot length – 3 mm
• Large, well-developed root • Small, poorly-developed
system root system

Irrigated Non-irrigated

Abbott & Gough (1986)


Greenhouse evidence for no lateral transfer of nutrients

• Shoot dry weight – 50.0 g • Shoot dry weight – 11.5 g


• Leaf dry weight – 3.7 g • Leaf dry weight – 1.3 g
• Number of new shoots – 6 • Number of new shoots – 2
• Large, well-developed root • Small, poorly-developed
system root system

Fertilized Non-fertilized

Gough (1984)
Field site

6-year-old „Elliott‟
blueberry plants
Irrigation treatments

Irrigate west Control Irrigate east


side only side only

Drip Drip Drip Drip


laterals lateral lateral laterals

Wetting
front
Wetting Wetting
front front
Each treatment received
the same amount of water
Fertilizer treatments

Fertilize west Control Fertilizer east


side only side only

N fertilizer N fertilizer N fertilizer N fertilizer

NH4+ NH4+ NH4+ NH4+


NH4+ NH +
NH4+ NH4+ NH4+ 4
NH4+ NH4+
NH4+ NH4+
NH4+ NH4+

Each treatment received the


same amount of fertilizer

An unfertilized treatment
was also included
All measurements were
taken on the east and west
sides of the plants
separately
Soil water content
0-0.3 m depth

Irrigation on both sides


Irrigation on west side only
Irrigation on east side only

West side of the row East side of the row


40 40

35 35
Soil water content (%)

Soil water content (%)


30 30

25 25

20 20

15 15

10 10

5 5
Jun 1 Jun 15 Jun 29 Jul 13 Jul 27 Aug 10 Aug 24 Sep 7 Jun 1 Jun 15 Jun 29 Jul 13 Jul 27 Aug 10 Aug 24 Sep 7

2009 2009

Measured by TDR
Plant water status
Ho: Lower water potential on un-irrigated side of the plant

Stem water potential (MPa)z

West side East side Avg. of both


Irrigation of plant of plant sides of plant

Both sides -0.64 ay -0.64 a -0.64 a


West side only -0.79 b -0.79 c -0.79 b
East side only -0.66 a -0.71 b -0.69 a
Significance * ** **
zAverage of measurements collected weekly from 15 June to 31 Aug. 2009.
yMeans were separated within columns using Fisher‟s protected LSD at the 0.05 level.

*, ** = P < 0.05 and P < 0.01, respectively.

Measured at midday on bagged leaves using a pressure bomb


New shoot production

Irrigate west Irrigate both


side only sides
New shoot production
Ho: Fewer new shoots on un-irrigated side of plant

New shoots (no./plant)z

West side East side Total of both


Irrigation of plant of plant sides of plant

Both sides 4.7 ay 6.0 a 10.7 a


West side only 2.3 b 1.9 b 4.3 c
East side only 3.7 ab 3.4 ab 7.0 b
Significance * * **
zShoots were counted 6 Aug. 2009.
yMeans were separated within columns using Fisher‟s protected LSD at the 0.05 level.

*, ** = P < 0.05 and P < 0.01, respectively.


Fruit production
Ho: Less yield on un-irrigated side of the plant

Three-year total (2009-11)


Marketable yield (kg/plant)

West side East side Total of both


Irrigation of plant of plant sides of plant

Both sides 6.2 5.8 az 11.9 a


West side only 5.1 4.7 b 9.8 b
East side only 5.1 5.1 ab 10.1 b
Significance NS * *
yMeans were separated within columns using Fisher‟s protected LSD at the 0.05 level.

NS, * = non-significant and P < 0.05, respectively.

Yield differences among treatments were a function


of both fruit size and fruit number per plant
Plant N status
Ho: Lower leaf N% on unfertilized side of the plant

Leaf N concentration (%)

West side East side Avg. of both


N fertilizer of plant of plant sides of plant

Both sides 1.69 1.81 az 1.75 a


West side only 1.65 1.63 b 1.64 bc
East side only 1.68 1.69 ab 1.68 ab
None 1.61 1.55 b 1.58 c
Significance NS * *
yMeans were separated within columns using Fisher‟s protected LSD at the 0.05 level.

NS, * = non-significant and P < 0.05, respectively.

Only 0 N (none) had any effect on yield


and only after 3 years
What‟s happening belowground?
(root imaging)

Handle
Computer

Camera &
light source Power source

Minirhizotron
tube (clear)

Figure 1. Minirhizotron camera system for monitoring root development in soil.


Early Root Imaging Results

1. Unfertilized plants produced 2 to 2½ times more


roots than fertilized plants.

2. Unfertilized plants tended to produce deeper roots


than fertilized plants irrigated by either microsprays
or drip … or unfertilized plants irrigated by
microsprays.

3. Three times as many roots were produced on the


east side of the plants than on the west side,
regardless of treatment.
Conclusion: Location is important in blueberry, as expected
…but the reason for it was unexpected
West side only Control East side only

Drip Drip Drip Drip


laterals lateral lateral laterals

1. Water applied to only one side reduced shoot & fruit production;
N fertilizer applied to only one side reduced leaf N%
2. No evidence for lateral isolation of water & nutrients
3. Plant water & nutrient status were higher when irrigation &
fertilizer were applied to the east side than to the west side
Study 4
Cultivar Comparisons
Influence of Application Method
(planted Oct. 2008)

Six cultivars
Earliblue Draper Elliott
Duke Bluecrop Aurora

Three irrigation/fertigation methods


Drip (2 lines) Microspray KISSS
Drip treatment

Level raised
planting beds

Drip laterals are located


8” from each side of the
plants and covered with
sawdust
Microspray treatment

Rectangular
spray pattern
(5‟ x 10‟)
KISSS (Kapillary Irrigation Sub Surface System)

“Line source” instead of “point


source” of water & fertilizer
Irrigation systems

Drip Microsprays KISSS


(two lines) (one line)

Drip Drip
lateral lateral KISSS
lateral

Wetting
Wetting front
front Wetting
front
Bluecrop

Drip Microspray

KISSS
Elliott

Drip Microspray

KISSS
Why is KISSS better?

Drip Microsprays KISSS


(two lines) (one line)

Drip Drip
lateral lateral KISSS
lateral

NH4+ NH4+
NH4+ NH4+ NH4+ NH4+
NH4+ NH4+
NH4+ NH4+
NH4+ NH4+

Wetting
Wetting front
front Wetting
front
Fruit Production
(Year 3) 1 kg = 2.2 lbs

Yield (kg/plant)
Irrigation
method Earliblue Duke Draper* Bluecrop Elliott Aurora

Drip 0.8 a 1.2 b 1.4 a 1.8 a 2.3 a 1.7 a


Drip (low N) 0.9 a 1.3 ab 1.2 a 1.7 a 2.0 b 1.4 bc
Microspray 0.6 b 1.2 b 1.2 a 1.3 b 1.7 c 1.2 c
KISSS 0.7 ab 1.5 a 1.4 a 1.9 a 2.4 a 1.6 ab

*Healthy plants only; Draper developed problems with root rot.

1. Yield was similar between Drip and KISSS in each cultivar but
lower with Microsprays

2. With drip, low N had no effect on yield in the early- and mid-
season cultivars but reduced yield in the late-season cultivars
Study 5
Rapid Field Establishment
More on Fertilizer Source, Timing & Placement
(planted Oct. 2010)

Optimize timing & placement


of fertilizer for rapid field
establishment

• Conventional & alternative


fertilizers, e.g., slow-release,
humic acids

• Pre-plant fertilizers

• Fertilizer timing
Current Drip Recommendations
During Establishment

1. Use two lines of drip per row.

2. Locate lines far enough away from the plants to


avoid root rot & far enough apart to avoid too much
overlap of the irrigated drip zone.

3. Use fertigation but …

4. Either move the drip lines closer to the plants the first
few months after planting…or…make a couple small
applications of granular fertilizer…or…use slow-
release fertilizer to establish the plants.
Acknowledgements

Graduate students:
• Oscar Vargas
• Luciane Letzke

Cooperators
• Bernadine Strik (OSU) • Wei Yang (OSU)
• Rui Machado (U. Evora) • David Ehret (Ag Canada)
• Bob Linderman (retired)
Technical Support
• Amber Shireman
• Will Fummerton
• OSU undergrads

Funding
• Oregon Blueberry Commission
• Northwest Center for Small Fruit Research
• Fall Creek Farm & Nursery
Irrigation System Maintenance
Uniformity of Water Application

Common assumption:
Irrigation water is applied uniformly across the field

Uniform distribution of water


Uniformity of Water Application

Reality:
All irrigation systems apply water non-uniformly

Drought stress

Deep
Deep
percolation
percolation

Non-uniform distribution
Uniformity of Water Application

Goal:
Avoid drought stress & yield loss

All plants are well irrigated

NH4+ K+ Deep
Deep H2PO4 -
percolation
percolation
NO3- NO3- NO3- NO3-
Non-uniform distribution
NO3- NO3-
Distribution Uniformity

Average depth of application


in the lowest quarter of the field
DULQ = X 100
Average depth of application
in the entire field

where DULQ is the “Low Quarter Distribution Uniformity”


Target Distribution Uniformity

Quality Distribution uniformity


of irrigation
system Drip Sprinklers

Excellent, but… >90% >80%


Good* 85% 70%
Fair 70-80% 50-65%
Poor <70% <50%

*Target range.
Washington Berry Fields
100

90
Good
80
Distribution uniformity (%)

Fair
70
60
Poor
50
40

30
Blueberry
Failed
20 Raspberry
10
0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Evaluation rank
*From Walters et al.
Non-Uniformity with Drip

System component Factors causing non-uniformity

1. Differences in discharge - Manufacturer variation


between emitters - Soil differences (if emitters are
buried)
- Temperature differences along the
lateral
- Zone & hose pressure differences
- Different emitter types in the same
field
- Plugged emitters

2. Volumes applied not - Variations in plant spacing are not


proportional to plant area matched by emitter spacing or
(assuming same plant age) scheduling
- Unequal discharge during start-up
and drainage
Regular irrigation system evaluations
provides helpful information for
improving distribution uniformity