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Irrigation and water requirements

Written by Bas van den Ende

Fresh water has become the most precious and essential input in the fruit industry. This finite resource is decreasing as a result of the drought, but also as increasing demand is being placed upon it by industry and human consumption.
There has never been a greater need for irrigation practices to be managed effectively to avoid the inefficient use of this precious resource.

A good irrigation system is both highly effective and highly efficient. To achieve both, a system must be well designed, maintained and managed.

---Topics in this article---

  • Drip vs Microjet
  • Advantages of a double-drip line
  • Tree water requirements
  • Seasonal water requirement
  • Water use & effective area of shade (EAS)
  • Saving irrigation water
  • Examples of how much water trees need, and how long to irrigate to deliver that water.

-- Images--

  • This Open Tatura planting with eight month old Williams’ pear trees has an estimated 25% EAS.
  • The same Open Tatura pear planting but three years later. The fully developed canopies now have an estimated 60% EAS.


  • Table 1. A summary of estimating total water use for a Williams’ pear orchard from time of planting to when trees were five years old. A pan evaporation reading of 100 mm is equivalent to 1 ML (1,000,000 litres).
  • Table 2. Average evaporation (Epan) in the Goulburn Valley from 2003 to 2008.

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