To compare irrigation methods and their impact on plant nutrient uptake and water quality
Trickle irrigation provides a targeted irrigation approach, applying water only to the stool and the root zone of the plant. As the water is not soaking the whole profile, less water is used, therefore nutrient losses through leaching and denitrification caused by waterlogging are less likely. This method of irrigation also reduces the chance of direct runoff from the paddock due to overapplication of irrigation water, which can particularly occur with flood irrigation. There is also an environmental saving in that less power is needed to run the irrigation and less water is lost through evaporation as it is applied below the surface. This means that irrigation can be applied throughout the day which in turn allows the use of solar panels to power the pumps. As well as irrigation, this system can support fertigation, meaning it can apply fertiliser as the same time. Fertigation allows for fertiliser to be applied in smaller amounts more frequently, assisting in the plant’s utilisation of applied nutrients. This trial will compare a block of trickle irrigation to a block watered by a centre pivot. Comparisons will include cane yield, economics and monitoring water quality run off using KP samplers.