Dragon Line technology touted to have up to 50 percent water savings | VIDEO
by Olivia Calver
Australian Dragon Line distributor Tetaan Henning with part of Dragon Line's drip line tubing which is used to convert a pivot into drip irrigation. Pictured in Wagga Wagga at the site of one of the first Dragon Line projects in Australia
https://www.theland.com.au/story/6743451/the-dragon-line-arrives/#! <---- Original Post source.
Mobile drip irrigation technology, Dragon Line, converts conventional pivot or lateral systems into drip irrigation.
It's touted to cut irrigators' water use by around 50 percent.
Australian and New Zealand Dragon Line distributor Tetaan Henning said the Dragon Line originated from the simple idea of dragging a hose along the ground to irrigate.
"The founder, Monty Teeter said 'lets call it Dragging the Line', but he couldn't register it with that name so he changed it to Dragon Line," Mr Henning said.
"Monty developed Dragon Line around 12 years ago, he's been in the irrigation and pivot industry in the US for the last 45 years."
Mr Henning said the biggest challenge in developing a mobile drip system, was ensuring the same amount of water was dispersed all the way along a pivot.
"Through the ten years that Monty developed the Dragon Line, he worked with a company that designed and manufactured pressure compensating emitters, so you could control the amount of water that is dispersed from the inside of the pivot all the way to the outside of the span," Mr Henning said.
US technology reaches Australia
Mr Henning said Dragon Line had been widely used in the USA for the last decade, while South African, Middle Eastern and South American irrigators had picked up the technology in recent years.
The first project for Dragon Line in Australia took place in Tasmania and one is about to start in Wagga Wagga, at Elders branch manager, Bruce Armstrong's property.
Mr Armstrong said they were already running some subsurface drip irrigation systems to water Lucerne for hay, cereal crops and some summer cropping.
"Our drip system was installed quite a few years ago now. It has consistently used 50pc less water than spray irrigation, to produce the same output," Mr Armstrong said.
"We see the potential for Dragon Line to be a happy medium, between spray irrigation and subsurface drip."
Dragon Line moving along a crop
Precision leads to water efficiency
Mr Henning said the amount of water irrigators were able to save with Dragon Line depended on soil type.
"In general when we're looking at sandy soils, there are 30 to 40pc water savings, then with more clayish soils we see anything from 50 to 70pc water savings."
He said precision was the main reason Dragon Line was more water efficient than conventional systems.
"We put the water down exactly where the roots are, with conventional spray irrigation you virtually spray the whole paddock and as the plant grows a lot of the water is wasted over the leaves," Mr Henning said.
"Also when you water with Dragon Line you water a small strip at a time, therefore your soil breathes better which allows for more water penetration."
He said like all drip technologies filtration was very important.
"To extend the life span of the equipment, we install self-flushing vacuum filters that automatically flush without reducing the pressure during irrigating," Mr Henning said.
"Then pressure compensating emitters, which also have the technology to self-flush, will ensure there is no debris that can build up and cause blockages."
At this stage the filter pump must be run at 35 psi, but Mr Henning said they were working to reduce the pressure needed.
Apart from the filter, the system runs at between 6-10 psi, with 7 psi the ideal.
Pictured: Gerald Menegazzo, Wauberrima, Galore, Bruce Armstong, Glenwood Park, Oura, Jason Menegazzo, Wauberrima, Galore and Tetaan Henning, Eco Water Management at an information day for Dragon Line held at Bruce Armstrong's Wagga Wagga property.
Solar an option due to low pressure
The drop in water use also led to a reduction in energy costs.
"If you save 50 per cent of your water you will save at least 50 per cent of your electricity," Mr Henning said.
He said because the system was able to run at such a low pressure, using solar energy instead of electricity was an attractive option.
"We're looking to take the irrigation system completely off grid," Mr Henning said.
"On solar obviously you would run your system differently, you would irrigate during the day because you have more sunlight.
"People usually like to irrigate at night because you get less evaporation but as we're putting water straight onto the soil we can efficiently water during the day."
He said irrigators in South Africa had reported that their herbicide use also dropped due to Dragon Line. Less water sprayed onto the leaves meant they were less susceptible to leaf burn and diseases.
"The chemicals they were using to treat leaf diseases have dropped by 20 to 30pc."
While, the main advantages of Dragon Line as opposed to drip systems was the cost and flexibility.
"Our investment is between $2000 to $4000 per hectare, while a subsurface drip irrigation system can be more like $11,000 per hectare," Mr Henning said.
He said you also had the option to switch between spray and drip irrigation depending on the needs of the crop.
"For example, if you're sowing fine seed wheat you would germinate it with sprinklers until the crop is established, then you switch it over to your Dragon Line," Mr Henning said.
"Also when you want to use herbicides or pesticides you just flick it over to your sprinklers."