Regional fruit growers have been facing increasing difficulties to face both the extreme variability in the environmental conditions and the increasing frequency of drought events. This project aims at providing solutions to rationalize the use of irrigation systems, both by identifying the best practices to improve water use efficiency in drip irrigation, and by developing sustainable protocols for orchard cooling irrigation, so to guarantee high quality products with a decreased use of water.
The project will provide indications for the management of traditional drip irrigation systems, allowing the diffusion of techniques to increase water use efficiency (ultra low drip irrigation system under soil) and defining the most efficient time for irrigation during the day, so to maximize resources partitioning towards fruit organs. Also, this project will outline guidelines for the application of cooling irrigation to fruit orchards. These guidelines will address issues related to i) the correct system design and implementation, ii) the adoption of sensors triggering the cooling system (on and off times), iii) the correct agronomic management practices to be followed before and during the adoption and the ordinary use of the cooling system. Furthermore the project will implement a warning system forecasting heat waves, through the regional bulletins for integrated crop production , and will develop local maps reporting specific weather issues. Improvements of the parameters used in the IRRINET decision support system are also foreseen.
The project is organized into four actions:
Comparing the effect of traditional drip irrigation and microsprinkler irrigation on four different scion/rootstock combinations of pear, with three different levels of water supply.
Studying the effect of ultra-low irrigation systems, with sprinklers positioned slightly under soil, to limit evaporative water losses, on apple and pear.
Defining specific guidelines for cooling irrigation (warning temperatures, working intervals of the system, irrigation volumes to be supplied)
Identifying the time for irrigation during the day which optimizes resource partitioning to kiwifruit sinks.