Processing Tomatoes

Precision Irrigation for high Brix, yields and profits for processing tomatoes

The quality of processing tomatoes is all about Brix. Many factors influence Brix, but water management is perhaps the most important as it has an immediate and significant impact on the Brix level.

Why precision irrigation for processing tomatoes?

  • Be in charge of your Brix
    Precision irrigation means you have the best control of your irrigation regime and can induce water stress as the fruit ripens. This drives sugars to the fruit, resulting in higher Brix levels.
  • Eliminate moisture stress
    Eliminating moisture stress during the flowering and fruit setting stage ensures maximum yield. Drip irrigation is the only method to water the plant root zone frequently, enabling stress-free moisture conditions to be maintained.
  • Balance vegetative growth and productiveness
    It is important to maintain the balance between vegetative growth and productiveness.  Precision irrigation provides both the control and the flexibility to ensure crops receive the exact amount of water and fertilizer they need.

Things we often get asked:

  • What yield can I expect with precision irrigation? 

    A good, commercial yield of tomatoes with subsurface drip irrigation and best management practices (BMP), would produce between 120 to 180 tons/ha. Other irrigation methods would yield between 80to 100 tons/ha.

  • How much water can I save by switching to drip irrigation? 

    When compared to flood irrigation, you can save up to 30% of water and increase yields by more than 30%. For example, in California, USA studies have shown an increase in yield from 82ton/ha to 104 ton/ha while using less water.

  • Can drip irrigation reduce input costs when compared to other irrigation methods?

    Yes!Drip irrigation requires less labor than flood or sprinkler irrigation systems.  Flood irrigation and sprinklers both require someone in the field to operate the irrigation process. Precision irrigation systems are operated by pressing a button on your PC, or via your cell phone.

  • How much water should I use?

    The amount of water is calculated by both the ETo (evapotranspiration) climate conditions and by the crop phenological stage expressed by the Kc factor (crop coefficient).
    The amount of irrigation (mm/day) = ETo * Kc. So, for example, if your ETo is 5.5 (mm/day) and your crop correlates to an 0.38 crop coefficient, you should irrigate: 5.5 * 0.38 = 2.09 mm/day.

  • Why should I choose drip rather than other irrigation methods that seem to be less expensive?

    It’s not about cost, it’s about making the best investment. It’s been proven that drip irrigation increases processing tomatoes yield, while also improving Brix. In addition, drip technology leads to significant savings in water, fertilizer and labor. Economic calculations show that in the long run, drip is the most sustainable system for processing tomatoes production, delivering higher economic returns than any other method.

  • What are the advantages of drip irrigation over furrow irrigation?

    Drip irrigation takes place throughout the entire crop cycle, as and when needed. This ensures that there are no water shortages, or stress to the crops. Furrow irrigation occurs once every 10-14 days which creates accumulated water stress in the plant.
    Another benefit of drip irrigation is the ability to deliver fertilizers via the drip system. This ensures your crops will receive the right amount of fertilizer (based on the plant’s phenological development) at the right time. In comparison, furrow irrigation limits application timing, making it less effective and accurate.

  • Can drip irrigation systems be activated remotely?

    Drip irrigation and automation are easily combined and make your irrigation more efficient. It is possible to add digital tools, such as ground sensors and a remote control to optimize your yields and resources. Learn more about our digital farming solutions.

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