From: ARS News Service [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Tuesday, November 19, 2002 7:51 AM
To: ARS News subscriber
Subject: Easy-to-Use Drip Tape
New Equipment Allows Easier Drip Tape Installation and Removal
ARS News Service
Agricultural Research Service, USDA
Sharon Durham, (301) 504-1611, [log in to unmask]
November 19, 2002
An Agricultural Research Service scientist has developed farm equipment that
installs drip tapes on or just beneath the soil surface to precisely
irrigate crops after seeds are planted. The same equipment can retrieve the
drip tapes after crops are harvested. The apparatus works with reusable or
disposable drip tape.
The new equipment was designed by Heping Zhu, an agricultural engineer at
the ARS National Peanut Research Laboratory in Dawson, Ga. The device
uniformly distributes drip tape, extracts water from it, holds and supports
the tape, and guides and adjusts its installation. The machinery chisels
shallow trenches in the soil, places the tape in the trenches and then
covers the tape with soil. Depth of drip tapes can be adjusted from 0 to 5
To retrieve disposable drip tapes, a special spool, mounted with a 3-point
hitch behind the tractor, was developed to quickly remove the tapes from the
unit. The inexpensive apparatus both installs and retrieves the tape.
During removal, Zhu's device layers the drip tape evenly across rotating
spools, which squeeze out any remaining water. Retrieval speed can be
adjusted by changing the tractor power takeoff speed. The drip tapes can
then be reused during subsequent growing seasons.
In many crop production schemes, drip irrigation has advantages over other
methods. It has been widely used in various applications throughout the
world, resulting in crop yield increases and improved water conservation.
But surface drip irrigation's disadvantage is that users have to install and
retrieve drip tapes every year, requiring high labor costs and more time. So
the new equipment should greatly benefit farmers using surface drip
irrigation technology by increasing their crop yield and reducing their
production costs. ARS is seeking a partner to further develop and
commercialize the device.
ARS is the chief scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of
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