Understanding LEPA Close-Spacing

LEPA (Low Energy Precision Application) Close Spacing is simple. It is a type of center-pivot irrigation system that does not spray water through the air and over crops. Instead, this system relies on bubble applicators that place water very near to the soil surface.

LEPA systems gently deliver water from a height of 45 to 60 centimeters above the ground. This helps combat wind-drift and prevent evaporation loss. With the applicators closer to the crop, the system can be setup so that water avoids hitting the leaves. Water does not have to come in contact with plants and fruit susceptible to water-borne diseases, and the soil absorbs nearly all of it.

At least 20% more water reaches the soil surface with LEPA compared to conventional spray heads, which are very susceptible to high wind speed, low relative humidity, temperature, and evaporation losses. For farmers with a center pivot operating at 181 699 L/hr, this means they can get an extra 31 797 to 40 882 L/hr to the ground and the crop.

Most recently, farmers have been installing bubbler sprinklers with 1 to 2 meters or less between heads to irrigate every other furrow. This adjustment allows growers to maintain the water-saving benefits of lower wind-drift and evaporation loss while also obtaining:

  • A more uniform root zone coverage
  • Increased yield using less water
  • The same energy efficiency as drip systems with low pressure operation of 0.41 to 1.37 bar
  • The ability to avoid wetting the plant canopy in row crops
  • The opportunity to apply the water needed in fewer pivot passes
  • A chance to leach salts beneath the root zone; and
  • Reduced potential rodent damage to crop and equipment over drip systems
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