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Frost control through microsprinkler irrigation saves 80% water

When air temperatures fall below 0°C, sensitive crops can suffer damage and become significantly affected during the production stage; thus, the impact on growers and the local economy can be devastating.

Several different systems exist in the market, but the problem with traditional antifrost systems is the high amount of water and high pressure they need to work, as well as the issues caused by excess humidity and the breakage of branches under the water's weight. This is why a Valencian grower and technician, Carlos Arenes, has studied the various antifrost systems used in different areas of the world and has found one used in America, for which he has acquired the patent to introduce in Europe.

It is a new method based on the use of microsprinklers with pulsators to wet the plant. This pulsator is linked to a pressure-compensating dripping device and a high-flow rotating head which can release between 120 and 300 litres per hour, but which the pulsator reduces to 20 or 30 litres/hour, distributing water effectively between the trees in a very uniform manner, perfect to control frosts.

"While we apply the water, trees are at 0ºC, which creates a thin layer of ice which isolates them from the outside temperature (igloo effect). The system never stops, because if water stopped being applied, it would freeze and the defrosting could not take place, because we obtain heat from the change of water from a liquid to a solid state; if we stop applying water, we stop applying heat. The tree's temperature never goes below 0º C."

"The system works in an automatic manner, as it possesses a small station which sends warnings to our mobile device regarding temperatures in the plantation and the dew point; this way we can always decide if we should connect the system or not," explains Carlos Arenes.

"At first, the system was designed for tropical fruit crops such as avocados, mangoes and citrus, and now, with the positive results, we are starting to use it for all kinds of top or stone fruit trees, as well as greenhouses, for which we create a thin layer of ice on the outside of the facilities (if they are completely closed on the sides) which isolates the greenhouse from low temperatures, keeping the heat loss through radiation within the inside of the greenhouse."

With the low volumes of water needed and the fact that it works with half the pressure of any other system, the saving of energy and water are considerable. "We are dealing with the most saving-oriented irrigation and frost control system in the market, considering that it can reduce water use by up to 80%. The cost per hectare stands at around 15 Euro with the equipment functioning for 10 hours and the pieces can be used indefinitely.

The system, which has been sold in the United States for 6 years, started being commercialised in Europe last year, with the opinions of those who have tested it being more than positive. "Normally, those who try it always come back for more. We always insist on clients testing the system first in a small orchard. Soon after, they call us again, asking us to install it in the entire plantation!" he affirms.
For more information:
Carlos Arenes
Control Heladas
T: +34 962530388
M:+34 629632886

Publication date: 7/19/2013


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