Oetker GbR

Irrigation of potatoes


Oetker GbR

Case Study Contents

About Farm

Farm Name

Oetker GbR


Lower Saxony

Farm area/size of the organisation:

Medium (20-100 ha)

Number of workers:

2 workers

Farm main activity:

General field crops (potato), Livestock, Mixed farming

Climate and soil characteristics

Oceanic climate

Measure Information

Description of the measure

Irrigation is performed with two irrigation drums with sprinklers.

Water is distributed via underground pipes with hydrants mounted every 80m, matching the tramline spacing (27m), so that every third tramline can be irrigated.

Water is distributed via electric pumps that can be controlled by a cell phone.

Objective of the measure

Improvement and stabilisation of potato crop, with a stable quality and quantity. Assure enough water for the potatoes in years of drought and also to cut peaks.

Justification of the choice

The utilization of this solid and well-known technique is justified only for potatoes, due to market price.

Where did You get information of the measure from?

Network of practitioners. Young farmers, both at regional and national levels.

Description of the situation before the measure implementation

No irrigation in place. Due to recurrent weather extremes and droughts cultivating potatoes – and in general crop farming – became more and more challenging.

Implementation phase

Description of the survey done for the implementation

There was not too much of a survey done before the implementation. It was clear that irrigation could result in more stable yields. Depending on the annual situation (droughts) there is more or less additional revenue compared to initial and annual costs.

Materials used

Conventional irrigation materials.

Required maintenance operations

Usual maintenance of the pipes and pumps

Recommended knowledge / skills / training / courses / education desired before starting the measure implementation

Basic irrigation knowledge; exchange amongst practitioners; learn from others.


Better harvest of potato concerning quantity and quality and therefore increased economic revenues per hectare.
Improve water use efficiency at farm and regional level.
More stability in the production of regional food.
In times of water shortage there is high need of water which might compete with alternative uses. The approval is very complex, as hydrogeological reports are now also required.


Innovation elements

On regional level, to irrigate potato was an innovation.

Key element for success

Improve irrigation based on own experiences. Keep an eye on further possibilities for improvement of resource use.


Physical constraints

Irrigation of course adapted to weather, soil condition and needs of the crop.

Acceptance constraints

People and society at the beginning were wondering if to irrigate cropland with potato was fine.

Proposed solutions to above constraints

If explained well, people usually understand the need for irrigation even of potatoes.


Lesson learned

Farmers’ experiences

After the expansion of arable land on the farm and investment in poultry fattening and further in pig farming, the investment in irrigation systems for potato was an important step for the future of the family farm.

Measure sustainability

Environmental sustainability

Based on the whole chain perspective this system is even more effective and efficient in water use per hectare and per plant.

Economical sustainability

Lower stress of the plant means lower need in other physical or chemical treatments for the crop on the field.

Transfer of the measure

Replicability conditions required

  • Knowledge transfer
  • Exchange of experiences (regional and national)
  • Scientific support

Conclusion remarks

Good sustainable measure and example of efficient water use at the linkage of environmental and economic sense for farmers and society.

Future plans

Further optimization of the use of resources.

Open problems

As said, the approval is very complex, and the permission is only given for 5 years.


To implement the irrigation based on underground pipes is the best method.

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