Tomato drip irrigation
Tomatoes are one of the most widely grown crops in the world, with world volumes of around 34.8 million tonnes in 2018. Italy, together with China and the US, represents 56% of the total annual production. In 2019 there was a +6.4% growth in the worldwide production as the demand continues to grow.
Characteristics and needs of tomato
Root architecture: roots are quite deep and can vary from 0.5 to 1.5 m in depth, it can be taproot or fibrous depending on how the plant grows. The root will be taproot if is grown from a seed, while it will be fibrous if is grown from cuttings.
Leaf: The tomato plant has large and compound leaves. A compound leaf is made up of leaflets which are distributed along the leaf rachis. Leaves have an epidermis that contains stomata, where all the gaseous exchanges are made.
Stem: indeterminate in height if the plant continues to grow. Determined if the Apical bud turns into an inflorescence and the plant takes on a bushy shape.
Flowers: 4 to 12 per inflorescence, they are yellow and bisexual – they contain both male (stamens) and female (pistil) organs.
Fruit: many-seeded berry of variable shape and size, red when fully ripe. Composition: 95-96% pulp, 2-3% seeds, 1-2% peel
Soil: tomato prefers sandy soil, rich in nutrients and organic substances and requires good drainage to avoid stagnation. Recommended pH between 6 and 7, as it prefers neutral or sub-acidic soils, but it also adapts to slightly alkaline soils as long as they are supported by adequate organic fertilisation.
Soil preparation: in clayey soils, tillage must be carried out in advance to allow the soil to acquire structure and thus be able to carry out proper refinement at the time of transplanting. In sandy soils, tilling can also be carried out in conjunction with transplanting.
Climate: Tomato prefers warm-temperate climates. Its most favourable temperature is 20/24°C while its down limit temperature is 10/12°C below which it stops its physiological activities until they die below 2/3°C.
Production category: Processing tomatoes
This kind of tomato is produced for further processing to obtain peeled tomatoes, concentrates, sauces and juices, flours, etc. Generally, varieties with fixed growth are used i.e., the variety where apical buds are transformed into inflorescences and the plant stops growing in height. The most widely used variety, especially for the production of peeled tomatoes, is the “San Marzano”. The San Marzano tomato of the Agro Sarnese-Nocerino territory, is commonly used for the production of peeled tomatoes and produced exclusively in the areas of Salerno, Naples and Avellino; it is protected at European level as a quality product.
Production category: Table tomato
Table tomatoes are produced to be commercialised without undergoing any transformation process. Numerous varieties selected for this type of consumption allow plantation in different seasons, thus ensuring a year-round production.
- Round, globe-shaped, uniform fruits
- Consistent flesh
- Color: from green to red
- Few seeds
- Resistance to diseases and manipulation
Even for this variety, Italy is recognised at European level, namely Pachino. This type can take four different forms: round and smooth, clustered, ribbed and cherry.
How to achieve the maximum productivity with drip irrigation system
In order to reach its full potential in the production process, tomatoes require a high-water supply, especially in the phase immediately after transplant. It is therefore important to choose a correct irrigation technique.
Drip irrigation, compared to other irrigation methods, is very efficient as it locates the water directly near the root system and avoids waste caused by wind or evapotranspiration. The low rainfall of drip irrigation allows a careful control of the depth of watering, avoids deep leakage of nutrients, avoids soil compaction due to the action of sprinkling water and saves such a precious resource as water, avoiding waterlogging. Only with the drip irrigation method, it is possible to achieve irrigation coefficients of 90-95%, which indicate the ratio between the irrigation water delivered to the plant and the water supplied. Another feature of drip irrigation is that it works at lower pressures than other irrigation methods, allowing high savings in energy and money.