Drip irrigation is one of the most efficient systems in delivering water to the plant root zone. Research has shown that the saturated, or nearly saturated, surface beneath the emitter may increase evaporation thereby reducing the irrigation efficiency. To increase the efficiency of surface applied drip irrigation on permanent tree crops a sand tube irrigation (STI) method was developed and tested. The sand tube method consists of removing a soil core beneath the emitter and filling the void with coarse sand. A weighing lysimeter was designed and instrumented to directly measure temporal evaporation during irrigation and for a period of three days after irrigation ceased. Thermocouples were used throughout the soil profile to detect the temperature variation and also to determine temporal movement of the wetting front. The results indicated that for the surface applied drip irrigation method, approximately 30% of the applied water evaporated during the four-day period after irrigation. The STI method resulted in approximately 4% of the applied water being evaporated. The STI method allowed more water to remain in the soil profile thereby increasing the irrigation efficiency.

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Published in Transactions of the ASAE, v. 41, issue 6, p. 1657-1663.

© 1998 American Society of Agricultural Engineers

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The work reported in this article was supported by the Kentucky Agricultural Experimentation Station and is published with the approval of the Director as Journal Article No. 98-05-54.