EghtesadOnline: As cultivation methods become more efficient with the modernization of irrigation systems in Iran, there has been a 37% reduction in water used in watermelon production.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, some 2.2 kilograms of watermelon were produced per cubic meter of water in the fiscal 2012-13, but last year, production increased to 3.5 kg per cubic meter of water.
In addition, the production volume increased from 29 tons per hectare in the fiscal 2014-15 to 32.5 tons in 2016-17.
The lower water consumption owes to the use of modern irrigation systems that increased efficiency and reduced vaporization. Sprinkler irrigation has been replaced with drip irrigation, Financial Tribune reported.
During the four-year period from March 2013-14 to March 2016-17, the use of drip irrigation system has increased by 45.3%.
Drip irrigation, otherwise known as trickle irrigation, works by applying water slowly and directly to the soil.
The high efficiency of drip irrigation results from two primary factors. The first is that the water soaks into the soil before it can evaporate or run off. The second is that the water is only applied where it is needed, (at the plant’s roots) rather than sprayed everywhere.
Drip irrigation is the most efficient method. While sprinkler systems are around 75-85% efficient, the ratio for drip systems is 90% or higher. It is easy to install, easy to design, inexpensive and reduced disease problems associated with high levels of moisture in some plants.
The analysis of statistics on production and water consumption for watermelon production from 2011-12 to 2016-17 reveals that average watermelon production stood at 3.54 million tons per year with an average yield per hectare of 29.5 tons during the six-year period, with 121,000 hectares of area under cultivation.
Watermelon exports stood at 567,000 tons worth $129 million per year on average.
Hossein Asghari, an official with the Agriculture Ministry, said it takes 8,500 cubic meters to produce 25-30 tons of watermelon per hectare.
Research shows seedling cultivation can reduce water consumption by 15%, as the irrigation for cultivation and sprouting would be eliminated.