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Napa Valley Inventor Develops Water-Saving Deep-Root Irrigation System (DRI)


Date: 08/21/14

St. Helena, Napa Valley, CA—California farmers each year face challenges in competition for precious water resources, and now with one of the most severe drought cycles in history, this innovative new irrigation tool has come along just in time. The Deep-Root Irrigation or DRI was developed by a friend to Napa Valley grape growers, Jeff Ciudaj, who has been field testing the product to great success for the past three years.

Ciudaj said, “I’ve always looked at the standard drip irrigation as if the inventor walked away from the job before it was finished and left the water running. It just never looked right to me. I’m astonished to see how much water is continually being wasted. I knew there had to be a more efficient means of delivering water to the vine, plant, or tree that would save water. The DRI system puts control back into the hands of the grower, allowing them to solve many of the problems actually created by traditional surface watering methods.” And in the process of this far more effective irrigation, water use is cut by up to 50 percent.

The primary cost of indirect surface watering is the extreme amounts water used. Consider the large amount of water lost to evaporation and run-off in the average vineyard or orchard using traditional drip and surface watering systems. The UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences produced a 25 page economic analysis of the 2014 drought. The report reads, “The 2014 drought is responsible for the greatest absolute reduction in water ever seen.” The study notes that an estimated 430,000 acres of crop land will not be farmed this year due to the drought.

For some farmers the impact of the drought has been devastating. Other farmers have discovered this new deep root irrigation technology known as DRI, which was developed, tested and is being used in the wine country of Northern California. It delivers water directly below the root zone where it matters the most, and then percolates the water back up into the root zone.

The DRI System eliminates many of the problems associated with drip irrigation systems, including water waste, and negative environmental impact of water and fertilizer run-off:

  • Economic answer to water challenges--Each unit costs just $2.00 to $3.00, a fraction of competing products
  • Easy to Install—Connects to existing emitters in 30 - 60 seconds
  • Allows for more specific targeting of fertilizers to the root zone reducing chemical costs
  • Inhibits weed growth because water goes directly into the ground and reduces available water and food source for pests
  • And the additional environmental benefits beyond water conservation are the reduction of fertilizers and run-off from irrigation in our streams and rivers

Jeff, and his son Jason have been field testing the Deep Root Irrigation System over the past three years with amazing results in some of the region’s most renowned vineyards and in olive orchards farmed throughout the area.

The DRI System, available in one of four available sizes, attaches to existing drip emitters, and is proudly made in the Napa Valley. It’s shroud is made of recycled rubber. The concept is based on a porous probe inserted into the soil below the root zone. Roots sensing water coming up from below will grow downward toward the source. Tests have had particular success in hard-to-farm rocky hillside locations for fine wine grapes, but the technology is well-suited to a variety of thirsty orchard fruit and nut crops as well. For more information visit www.drisystem.com

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