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Drip irrigation technology being tested to help farmers conserve water

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Posted at 5:59 PM, Jan 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-29 11:18:42-05

TONOPAH, AZ — With a water shortage already an issue in Arizona, the Central Arizona Project (CAP) is looking for new ways to conserve water for farming, and it may have found one.

CAP and others are in a partnership with an Israeli-based irrigation company called N-Drip. The company claims that its drip irrigation is cost-effective, uses less water, requires zero electricity, and no filtration.

The pilot program has already been tested on Colorado River Indian Tribe farms with positive results, according to Orestes Morfin, a Senior Planning Analyst with the Central Arizona Project.

"With our first two runs at Colorado River Indian Tribes, we conserved between 40-50% of water that otherwise would've been used in flood irrigation," Morfin stated.

Bill Perry, a fourth-generation Arizona farmer based out of Tonopah, is also part of the pilot program. His cotton crop used 25% less water while his alfalfa crop used 40% less water, but he said there were some hurdles in the process.

"Because the tape lays above the ground, we don't know how to put a second crop in," Perry said when discussing drip tape.

He says it has to be taken out after being used if he wants to till and seed properly. This would be an added cost to his already tight budget.

Drip tape aside, Perry says the system "works better than [he] thought it would."

The N-Drip technology is set to be part of other pilot projects in Arizona for the next couple of years.

The goal is to use the drip irrigation technology on a larger scale, so that other farmers like Perry can benefit in the face of current and likely future water shortages.