A rich fruit bearing canopy, dry underfoot and plenty of plant available water in the rhizosphere defines the very best maintained orchard.
Excess water pooling and surface runoff are not only wasteful of water but indicative of penetration resistance that makes root growth difficult as it pushes against the consolidated soils.
Conversely, orchards on sandy loams face the issue of low plant available water due to the soil's draining properties that carry water and nutrients away to the lowest regions of the field.
When surface spray irrigation is employed, water is spread efficiently but infiltration can be quite limited, especially in soils that disperse or rapidly slake, resulting in high run off and high evaporation loss.
Poor infiltration of water therefore correlates highly with poor penetration resistance which mitigates root growth.
When drip irrigation is employed, water moves in a predictable ball shape below the drip point and is distributed according to the properties of the soil. For sandy loam that shape is elongate in the vertical direction causing drainage whereas clay soils are more likely to be retain water closer to the surface due to their fill capacity and dispersion properties.
Conventional soil remedies in orchards are largely limited to surface treatments unless these can be deployed through the fertigation system which until recently has not been satisfactory.
At CHT, the challenges posed to us are essentially to define where in the rhizosphere we want to have most of the water. Is it at the surface nearer younger roots? Is it a little lower to maximize water reserves, or is it deeper to increase water reserves and promote deeper root growth?
Our response to each of these challenges can be seen the following reports and video.
33 Elliott Road
Victoria Australia 3175
+61 3 9706 7400
+61 3 9706 7411
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