Submitted to: Soil and Water Conservation Society
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2005
Publication Date: 7/22/2006
Citation: Halvorson, A.D., Bartolo, M., Reule, C.A., Berrada, A. 2006. Drip versus furrow irrigation for onion production in the Colorado Lower Arkansas river Valley. Soil and Water Conservation Society. Abstract. July 22-26-2006, Keystone, CO. J. Soil and Water Conserv. 61(3):229.
Technical Abstract: Onion is a shallow rooted, high-cash value crop that requires frequent irrigation and is fertilized with high N rates (>200 lb N/a) to maximize yield and size. Six N rates were applied to N plots previously cropped to chile pepper (2004). Polycoated urea with a 90 to 120 day release period was applied prior to planting. The plots were split to allow irrigation by furrow (normal method) and a drip system. A total of 27 inches of irrigation water was applied with drip and 96 inches with furrow system. Total marketable fresh onion yield increased with increasing N rate in both systems, with less response of onion to N within the drip compared to the furrow system. Higher onion yields were obtained with the drip system. Percentage of onions of colossal size (>4 inch diameter) increased from 5% to 14% with increasing N rate, jumbo size (3-4 inch diameter) which made up 80% of the yield was not affected by N rate, and medium size (2-3 inch diameter) decreased from 14% to 5% with increasing N rate. Adjusted gross economic returns were greater with drip than with furrow irrigation. Economic returns can be maintained by using the more efficient drip system for onion production rather than the inefficient furrow system. With the drip system, onion yields were maximized with a lower rate of N fertilizer and 72% less irrigation water than with the furrow system. Soil erosion was also less with the drip than with the furrow system.