New water-saving irrigation system tested in China

TQIWith drip irrigation, one cu/m of water can irrigate 2,000 square metres. (Image source: H2O-C/Wikimedia Commons)Scientists have successfully tested a new water-saving irrigation technology in the growing area of Hami in China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region

With the Trace Quantity Irrigation (TQI) technology, date trees in the test land yielded the same output with 30-40 per cent of the water volume that would be needed with drip irrigation.

The key part of the TQI system is a water-controlling tip that is put underground near crops’ roots. The tip delivers water directly to the roots at a speed that’s consistent with crops’ absorption rate.

Drip irrigation sends water to the soil through small holes in plastic pipes. With the same amount of water, the TQI system can irritate twice as much land as with drip irrigation, and more than 10 times that of flood irrigation.

According to Zhu Jun, professor at Huazhong University of Science and Technology and the inventor of TQI technology, the test project in Hami has achieved several breakthroughs in water-saving irrigation.

Previously, under the drip irrigation system, the flow volume must be higher than 1.36 liters per hour. With TQI technology, however, the flow volume can be lower than 200mm per hour, making it possible to irrigate the land at a much lower rate of water flow.

One cu/m of water can be used to irrigate more than 4,000 square metres of land. With drip irrigation, one cu/m of water can irrigate 2,000 square metres.

Additionally, a single well can irrigate more land. And only two valves will be needed with TQI, when 20 are necessary for drip irrigation, Jun said. It can also reduce seepage of fertilisers, improving fertilisers’ efficiency and decreasing pollution to groundwater.

The TQI technology has also been tested in Beijing, Hebei and Ningxia.

It was invented jointly by a research centre at Huazhong University of Science & Technology in Hubei province and Beijing Puquan Science & Technology Co Ltd.

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