In many parts of Germany irrigation has become an essential production factor. Particularly on light soils, large production quantities and the best possible product quality are only possible with irrigation. Next to fertilizer and plant protection, irrigation is the most important production input. Irrigation helps to exploit the yield potential and secure the production in all arable crops, particularly in dry years.
Irrigation is, however, also the most expensive of all yield-increasing and yield-securing farm inputs. For this reason it makes sense above all to water those crops which bring in more profit, for example potatoes or vegetable crops. As a rule the use of irrigation here is very cost effective.
In regions that are completely irrigated, like for example northeastern Lower Saxony, the water contingents that are assigned the farms by the water authorities are a limiting factor. Since a further expansion of irrigation is to be expected, the need for intelligent solutions to apply the water efficiently is increasing.
In the past decades there has been significant progress in the development of irrigation systems and monitoring. It has thus become possible to reduce the water, energy and labor required for area-related irrigation. In the area of soil tillage, soil-conserving and water-saving processes have been developed which are increasingly being practiced in Germany. Special opportunities can result from a holistic consideration and combination of these agricultural measures.
Within the framework of a long-term field experiment, we sought new approaches together with experts from the Julius Kuehn Institute: With the help of adapted and coordinated soil tillage, irrigation technology, and irrigation control, the yields of agricultural crops shall be further optimized and the use of water reduced. For this research goal, rotating and non-rotating soil tillage approaches are combined with different irrigation variations, including a repeat procedure. The monitoring is undertaken with the irrigation control model AMBER of the German Weather Service (DWD).