Stefan Stanglmair

Underground drip irrigation on all hop fields

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Stefan Stanglmair

Case Study Contents

About Farm

Farm Name

Stefan Stanglmair

Year of foundation

1794

Location

Upper Bavaria

Farm area/size of the organisation:

34 ha (+15 ha forestry)

Number of workers:

The farmer, his wife, and seasonal workers

Farm main activity:

Hop

Climate and soil characteristics

Humid continental climate with summer months that are getting hotter due to climate change.

Measure Information

Description of the measure

Only about 18% of the German hop acreage is irrigated (exclusively drip irrigation). A subsidy program in Germany provided strong support for the installation of irrigation systems in hop-growing farms between 2008 and 2010 (over 3000 ha of hop acreage subsidized, with a subsidy of € 2000/ha).

The solution implemented in the farm consists in improving the irrigation system. Drip tubes are inserted underground at a depth of about 30 cm at a distance of 40 cm from the plant row.

Objective of the measure

To achieve optimal yields reducing or eliminating stress situations through targeted irrigation. Through irrigation, stocks can be managed in an improved manner. Today the yearly yields are always on the very top for quality and quantity.

Justification of the choice

To improve the efficiency of irrigation water and application.

Thereby good entry to the market each year and high reliability for the contract partners.

Where did You get information of the measure from?

Working for a worldwide hop trader, irrigation of hop was a topic for the farmer when taking over the farm business from his father.

Description of the situation before the measure implementation

The application of fertilizer and plant protection required more efforts with machinery and there was more stress for the hop plants. Yields of the year varied a lot due to the weather conditions of the year.

Implementation phase

Description of the survey done for the implementation

The farmer has defined measures to promote irrigation in hop production in general and to intensify cooperation with irrigating hop growers:

  • Organization of technical excursions, e.g. with Netafim to Israel [2011&2012],
  • Organization of collective order campaigns for tensiometers and organization of tensiometer installation workshops

Conducting irrigation & fertigation trials in hop practice. Intensification of the cooperation with the state hop research (LfL [Bayerische Landesanstalt für Landwirtschaft]) as well as other relevant research institutions.

Materials used

  • Leading water irrigation systems
  • pipes.

Implementation / building

No specific buildings are needed. Place for the water pump, the pipes, as well as the storage for fertilizer, was already there.

Required maintenance operations

Maintenance only if the pipe network is damaged. Usually, the investment is made at the beginning of the perennial crop which, depending on demand for specific hops, can last from 10 to 30 years of production.

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

Inventory inspections in a wide variety of cultures are informative as well as practical solutions and concepts.

Impacts

Reliable yields in terms of quantity and quality.

High reliability for market partners and thus good position for trade on the market. Irrigation is possible without time restrictions, the annual workload is reduced, and damages by rodents excluded.

Efficient use within water circle.

Lower stress in the hop plants.

Involvement of society by very open farm concept including weddings on the farm and various events all around the main topic of hop.
Of course, the initial investment is important and need to be justified by proper revenues on the market.

Innovation

Innovation elements

First farmer of the region to implement this irrigation system for hop.

Key element for success

Innovative entrepreneurial spirit.

Readiness for trial and error with clear ambition to be among the best farmers each year. Practical and scientific exchange.

Constraints

Physical constraints

  • The control of the functioning of the irrigation system is more difficult.
  • Increased risk of soil compaction in the lane area
  • Damages by soil cultivation are not excluded

Technological constraints

Water regulations in Germany/ Bavaria lead to restrictions of permissions for water extraction to 10 years only, which makes it difficult to plan the investment at the beginning.

Acceptance constraints

Water irrigation systems often are judged only from the point of extraction. There is no comprehensive view of the topic. Even less when considering the resources needed for transport to bring a product to the place from other areas under irrigation.

Proposed solutions to above constraints

Further public education.

Involvement of society to avoid a further drift apart of farming and society.

Lesson learned

Farmers’ experiences

Overall, the system proved to be very good. Of course, at the beginning, the key factor for success is to get to know the system and its handling.

Testimonies

“If you farm, try to be the best farmer of your specific field of farming. This includes a sustainable and efficient use of regional resources. Based on this approach your access to market can be a good one based on the product itself and its transparency.”

Measure sustainability

Environmental sustainability

Better efficiency of water use of regional production of hop. Maximum efficiency of use of fertilizer and plant protection.

The sustainability of the farm is also certified:

  • ISO certification hops since 2000
  • Certified sustainability hops production since 2014

Economical sustainability

Due to the stable quality and quantity of the yields per year a good position on the market goes along with good chances for good prices to reach current and future tradings.

Transfer of the measure

Replicability conditions required

  • Knowledge transfer
  • Exchange of experiences
  • Scientific and administrative support to the farmer

Conclusion remarks

The irrigation system implemented supports sustainable hop farming when considering environmental, social, and economic aspects.

Future plans

Further improvements of the irrigation system.

As an entrepreneur, there is always something to learn. Keep being ambitious is crucial.

Open problems

Water regulations concerning quantities of extraction complicate the planning of the investment.
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