DRIP IRRIGATION FOR  HEMP

Cultural background, origin and dissemination

Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) is an annual herbaceous species belonging to the Cannabinaceae family and the genus Cannabis. Its centres of origin are in Central Asia, from where it spread to the Middle East between 2000 and 1400 B.C.

It is considered to be one of the earliest crops known to man; after several decades of neglect, its cultivation on an industrial level is attracting increasing interest as there is a growing demand for products derived from industrial hemp including food (seeds, oils), pharmaceuticals (inflorescences), herbal and cosmetic (phytoextracts) purposes is growing.

Hemp is a predominantly dioecious species (male and female flowers on different plants) in which the male (staminiferous) flowers are grouped in terminal panicles while female (pistilliferous) flowers are grouped in clusters of 2-6 at the axils of bracts forming short spikes.

Today, there is a tendency to select varieties that give high quality inflorescences, high in CBD (cannabidiol) and low in THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), with a short cycle and reduction in size.

The biological cycle of hemp is strongly influenced by the photoperiod: it is a brevidiurnal species so flowering is induced by short daylight conditions (< 14 hours of light).

Cultivation methods and water-nutrient management

Hemp, due to its rusticity and adaptive plasticity to a wide variety of soil and climatic environments, with positive effects on succession crops, is generally cultivated in the open field (biomass hemp) as a spring-summer renewal crop.

The most modern cultivation methods of inflorescence hemp, on the other hand, bypass soil cultivation through the use of soilless systems (in pots on an inert substrate) in closed environments (indoor cultivation) where, thanks to the correct management of the photoperiod, temperature, relative humidity, and the supply of water and nutrients, it is possible to carry out continuous cycles throughout the year.

The daily water requirements for hemp grown in pots are generally 4-5 litres/plant, distributed through micro-irrigation with 8-10 passes of 4-5 minutes duration each day.

Irrigation System for Hemp

The soilless technique involves a highly efficient irrigation system in terms of uniformity and precision in the delivery of water and nutrients, and is characterised by short and frequent irrigation sessions with low watering volumes.

For soilless hemp farming, Irritec recommends the self-compensating on-line drippers with Drop Stop technology, i.e. capable of interrupting the flow at the end of the irrigation cycle, without the need to drain the line and standardising the time and volume of supply for each plant.

The best solution is the pre-assembled kit (K-Drop System) which includes iDrop line drippers and relative accessories (manifold, micro tubes/capillary tubes and rods): the kit is offered pre-assembled with standard or modular sizes (choosing manifold and dipstick) according to the specific farming needs. Irritec also recommends polyethylene tubing (for the laterals), microtubes and white coloured rods, to reduce overheating of the nutrient solution and irrigation water, which is unavoidable in covered systems.

For open field hemp farming, however, we recommend Irritec P1, the historic lightweight dripline by Irritec that ensures high performance, durability and versatility in use (single or multi-season use).

In either case, it is important to consider an efficient upstream filtration system, ensuring high performance across the entire irrigation system in the short and long term; selecting the most suitable filter depends on the source of the water supply: the type of filter will therefore be different if the water comes from a well, lake, reservoir, consortium, etc.

Fertigation and automation

For the precision fertigation of hemp, the Irritec solution is Shaker SET, a device that is perfectly suited for both soil and soilless cultivation; it can be installed either in-line or in bypass (for higher flow rates), and allows up to 4 fertilisers to be injected into the irrigation pipe to pH and EC set.

The ease of programming and the advanced functions of the integrated Commander EVO® programmer allow a more professional approach to irrigation scheduling, combining pH and electrical conductivity management with other functions that are well suited to the cultivation of hemp.

It is possible, for example, to activate one or more irrigation programmes according to ambient temperature or sunlight requirements by equipping the system with the relevant probes; the installation of a solar irradiance sensor therefore allows irrigation to be automated based on accumulated levels of solar irradiance.

If this is combined with the “repeat” function, the same irrigation programme can be repeated several times a day for a specific length of time.

These functions therefore ensure ad hoc water-nutritional management for hemp, modulating each water and fertiliser supply according to the photoperiod and the evapotranspiration requirements of the environment, factors responsible for the plant’s vegetative-reproductive growth and the biosynthesis of the main cannabinoids.

The ability to connect to the radio control system and, therefore, the remote opening of the valves offers a further possible application, namely the centralised management of non-contiguous parcels of land which are distant from each other

hemp cultivation drip irrigation system

A practical example of how to drip irrigate hemp:

Irrigation System Hemp - Irritec

Here are the Irritec products you need to drip irrigate hemp

1

K-DROP SYSTEM

K- Drop System is a pre-assembled kit consisting of iDrop drippers, cigar drippers and micro tubes, and is available in various diameters. It is ideal for irrigating crops in greenhouses or in pots: the answer to the needs of soilless irrigation.
With its wide range of thicknesses and availability of flow rates, the light drip line with P1 flat dripper allows both. The flat dripper guarantees extremely low, localised head losses, and the possibility of realising a drip line of significantly greater lengths for each of the many diameters available..

hemp irrigation dripper -kdrop System Irritec

2

LOW DENSITY PE PIPES AND FITTINGS

The low density irrigation pipe is produced with state-of-theart equipment, using selected special resins that are highly resistant to chemicals and weathering. Due to its high resistance to mechanical stress, it is particularly suitable for side branches and withstands deformations caused by the assembly of hose couplings very well. The Connecto™ line of compression fittings for the conveying pressurised fluids, particularly suitable for irrigation and gardening systems, is characterised by its great speed and ease of assembly.

Pipes for irrigation Irritec

3

METAL FILTER

Irritec® metal filters are robust and durable. They can manage a wide range of flow rates. Manual or automatic models are available for canal and well water applications.

Metal filters for hemp irrigation

4

FERTIGATION

Irritec® fertigation systems combine practicality and reliability with a modern nutrient injection system. Fertiliser management is regulated by simple fertigation recipes that can be set according to agronomic and nutritional requirements. Proper water management, which is essential to deliver the right nutrition to the plants, is ensured by years of experience in sizing machines and equipment, and the use of reliable and certified materials.

Fertigation system for hemp - Irritec

5

AUTOMATION

Irritec® automation systems, such as the Commander EVO® and Commander NPK® programmers, meet the irrigation needs of farms of all sizes, combining pH and electrical conductivity management with a more professional approach to irrigation scheduling. They are also equipped with radio remote controls, managed via software with internet access.

Discover how to irrigate others crops

Irritec wants to make life easier for those who take care of the plants, for work and for passion. We aim to ensure that every drop is spent as well as possible, minimizing the ecological footprint.

Agronomic Irritec Team support the farmer also on after-sale and installation, with continuous assistance and efficiency control. Continuous attention to the customer needs to provide succesful and sustainable solution with an efficience service.