Automated drip irrigation systems for hemp farming

To take full advantage of this growing industry, it is important for a commercial grower to be aware of all the requirements for growing hemp. This crop has shown to grow more vigorously than corn, but requires much less water, along with amendment applications like fertilizers and herbicides. This marks hemp as more sustainable to grow and cultivate. Hemp is an annual plant that grows well in most areas. It does best in warm conditions with well-draining soil or grow media that is bursting with organic matter. Once established, a hemp plant is relatively drought tolerant, but the seedlings can be highly water dependent and need irrigation for the first 4-6 weeks of growth. Hemp is a larger crop and requires some space for proper growing and yields. It should also be noted that hemp is what is called a short-day plant. This means that it will only fully mature to flower when day length is around 12 hours. This can be supplemented through lighting in a greenhouse. Soil should be loose with excellent aeration, loam soils are best with high fertility and loads of organic matter. The soil should be around the neutral pH zone at

6.0-7.5 favoring a more basic soil composition. Acidic soils are not good for proper nutrient absorption. Poor soils will result in establishment failures and result in a less than ideal plant. Making sure to meet these general growth requirements is essential for success in the commercial hemp production industry.

Getting Started in Hemp Production Requires Expert Advice and Guidance
While understanding the fundamentals for commercial hemp production is important for proper growth and successful yields, a grower must also have the right equipment and systems for the job. Netafim is one of the hemp industry’s trusted sources for all things irrigation and drip irrigation systems, with over 50 years of experience and services provided. Netafim was founded on the belief that drip irrigation is the answer to solving the problem of a lack of quality water for food production. With their introduction of drip irrigation in the 60’s, the horticulture industry was set to revolutionize the way water was used and incorporated into a growing area. Netafim offers many types of drip irrigation to suit any commercial growing area and type. From flat topographies, lateral lengths, and sloping terrains. Their drip irrigation systems offer flexible pipes, filtration, digital farming and fertigation, pressure and flow control, and flow monitoring in their systems. Netafim quite simply offers one of the best drip irrigation solutions for hemp production on a commercial scale.

Why use drip irrigation for hemp production?
Drip irrigation is a system of moving water through a flexible polyethylene tube system. This tubing has drippers welded into the wall of the tube inside and out. The drippers installed into the tubing take water at a higher pressure and allow it to slowly drip a set amount of water as needed by the plants being grown. This dripping water is applied directly to the root zone and allows for a decrease of surface runoff and water waste. The continuous flow of water and nutrient solutions allows for a grower’s ability to monitor and manage a plant’s growth throughout the growing season. This direct monitoring and control allows for earlier, healthier, and more profitable yields in crops more consistently than traditional methods of farming irrigation. Overall costs associated with plant nutrients and water consumption are also reduced due to the direct application to the plant’s roots instead of across a soil surface. This results in minimal evaporation loss and water run off.

In hemp production on a commercial scale, the delivery of water and nutrients is essential for proper growth and yields. By meeting the nutrient requirements for the crop, maximum yield potential can be met easier with a high probability than standard systems. Due to hemp varieties preferring a soil that is moist instead of saturated, the drip irrigation method offers water at a slower rate minimizing saturation in the soil. The use of drip irrigation also reduces overall weed growth due to less water run off and with nutrient solutions in a system, less nutrient loss into the surrounding soil. Using a method that deposits the water directly into the root zone instead of over-head onto the leaves, helps to reduce the instances of fungal growth and diseases. In hotter months, a drip irrigation will reduce not only evaporation loss, but also the risk of leaf scorching through watering. Overhead systems, may result in a scorching of plant tissues when exposed to higher temperatures and stronger UV rays seen in summer months.

Dialing in your entire hemp farming operation and automating it for maximum efficiency is what a commercial grower should be working towards. Integration of digital control systems that can automatically control crop watering, plant nutrient dosing systems, environmental control systems, and lighting systems (if applicable), will all ultimately contribute to a hemp farmer’s bottom line by mitigating costly mistakes, reducing overhead, and improving crop yields.


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