DRIP IRRIGATION FOR OIL PALM

Cultivation classification and dissemination

The oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) is a tropical plant native to West Africa (coast of Guinea, hence the name given to the species name). Today, it is widespread in almost all tropical countries, in south-eastern and western Asia and in central Africa.

Palm oil lends itself to numerous uses: from the food industry to cosmetics, from the production of biodiesel to use as a soil conditioner (oil extraction residues) in agriculture.

Characteristics and cultivation

The oil palm is considered a high-income crop due to the high productivity of the fruit (10-30 t/ha) and the wide use of its derived products. The plant is characterised by a single straight stem that rises up to 20 m, at the apex of which the leaves and the male and female inflorescences branch off.

The oil palm is in fact a monoecious species (male and female flowers carried separately). The fruits are grouped in large clusters (up to 2000 fruits/cluster) weighing between 10 and 40 kg.

For commercial crops, the oil palm requires tropical climate zones with high levels of light, abundant rainfall and constant annual temperatures of 25-28°C.

If these conditions are lacking it can result in low vegetative growth, rapid cluster ripening and, in extreme cases, cluster abortion and plant death. It can be cultivated from coastal areas up to altitudes of 500-1500 m above sea level.

It prefers moist alluvial soils (deep, loamy/clayey, rich in organic matter and with good permeability), preferably flat and with a pH between 5.5 and 7.

Generally, oil palm cultivation starts in a nursery, where the germination of seeds and the first seedling growth steps are taken care of for 2-3 months under shade nets.

When the seedlings reach their optimum size, they are potted up into larger pots and transferred outdoors where they remain for 6-8 months, until they reach a planting size of 1-1.2 m.

Open field transfer is usually carried out in the rainy season, often respecting a triangular (quincunx) spacing with a density of 140-150 plants per hectare.

1-2 years after being transferred into the open field, the palm will begin to bear fruit with gradually higher production over the years that will only cease when the plant dies.

Harvesting proceeds in stages (every 10-12 days) with closer intervals (6-7 days) during the rainy season, as ripening is accelerated.

Irrigation management

The oil palm is a crop with high water requirements, which is why crops in the wild are mainly located near lakes, rivers and in the coastal belts of equatorial countries. It benefits from abundant and well-distributed rainfall throughout the year. Optimum annual water volumes range from 15,000 m3/ha for young plantations to 25,000-40,000 m3/ha for adult plantations.

Irrigation system for Oil palm

Compared to conventional irrigation methods that are still widely adopted, such as run-off irrigation, which involves channelling open fields through hand-tilled furrows, and spray irrigation through medium-long range sprinklers, drip irrigation guarantees clear water and energy savings, especially by improving soil moisture management.

Increased localisation of water and fertilisers also reduces the growth of weeds between the rows, thereby optimising cutting or weeding operations.

Furthermore, it is particularly advantageous in the case of undulating, steeply sloping and/or extensive terrain. For this reason, Irritec offers its pressure-compensating driplines (Multibar model), which offer the possibility of long shoots while ensuring maximum uniformity of supply for each individual dripper.

Irritec also offers the solution for the first steps of plant growth in nurseries; iDrop System is optimal for irrigating pot plants/phytoplants, ensuring uniformity, precision and perfect timing in irrigation interventions: the Drop Stop function, in fact, allows the simultaneous opening and closing of each individual dripper when turning the system on and off, ensuring that the pipes are always pressurised.

Fertigation

The crop responds well to micro-irrigation, especially when combined with fertigation practice. Each of the growth stages of the oil palm, from planting in the nursery to full production in the open field, has its own specific water and nutrient requirements, with NPK ratios varying according to expected yield, soil type and local rainfall.

Irritec’s solutions take all these aspects into account, recommending, for the nursery phase, highly professional fertigation benches such as Shaker SET or Shaker PRO that are well suited to modern off-growing methods in which all macro- and micronutrients need to be supplied to the plant via irrigation water.

For open field cultivation, it is possible to choose Ferticlick bypass or Dosabox Junior Advanced, which allow volumetric or proportional dosing of one or more fertilisers respectively.

OIL PALM GROWING - Irrigation system

A practical example of how to drip irrigate oil palm:

Here are the Irritec products to drip irrigate oil palm

1

MULTIBAR™ C AND IDROP

The characteristics of the inline (Multibar C) and online (iDrop PC) pressure compensating dripper make them ideal for installations in areas with large differences in ground level, where extremely long line lengths and constant flow rates are required in every portion of the system and high delivery precision typical of high-quality crops.

multibar and idrop for oil palm driplines irritec

2

PIPELINES IN PE AND CONNECTO™

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.

3

METAL FILTERS

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.

Filters - irrigation oil palm - Irritec

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.

Filters - irrigation oil palm - Irritec

5

DRIPLINE FITTINGS AND BRANCHES

Complete range for connecting tape, light and classic dripline, available in sizes 16, 20, 22, 23, 25 and 29 mm.

DRIPLINE FITTINGS AND BRANCHES - irrigation oil palm - Irritec

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.