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3 May 2019

Austria: ice cover to spare the blossoms

Austria: ice cover to spare the blossoms

April is one of the most sensitive months for growers who are concerned about the growing of their orchards and worry about possible frost. Austria and Eastern Europe in particular have to deal with a mass of frozen air that can reduce the nighttemperature 10°C  below zero, with the risk that the blossom will be killed.

A few weeks ago, Biohof Schloffer farm, a customer of our partner Fruit Security, published many suggestive pictures on social media about this new frost protection technique, aimed at protecting the plants in an area where the night temperature reaches -4°C. This is not an extremely low temperature, but it can be enough to ruin the blossom. The damage caused by frost ranges from a low quality of the harvest to total or partial loss of production.

buds in ice

Micro sprinklers for irrigation (wall crops)

There are mainly two different types of frost, the first having Windy Frost or Black Frost. It bows when a mass of cold air moves to an area that brings the temperature below zero. The wind speed is usually higher than 8km/h and it is very difficult to protect yourself against this kind of frost.

Radiation frost occurs when, in clear air and low winds, the temperature close to the land surface drops below freezing. As the temperature decreases, the cold air lows down where the biggest damage occurs. 

A great deal of effort has been put into finding a solution to this type of frost in order to limit the damage caused by low temperatures. Many different methods have been used, including candles, air fans and helicopters. Irrigation sprinklers are now in most cases the most effective solution.

Overhead irrigation

Overhead irrigation is a common practice in antifreeze protection systems. It uses pulsating sprinkler to fully irrigate the plants and soil. The homogeneous distribution of the water is important to prevent damage. In most cases, the sprinkler is installed 30 cm above the upper part of the tree to prevent the vegetation from blocking the water jet. This is the conventional complete covering method which, if applicable, guarantees excellent protection and is the most common and safe solution against frost.

Micro sprinklers for irrigation (wall crops)

Mirco sprinklers make it possible to lead the water to the trees with a small percentage of water between the rows. Usually each tree has its own micro sprinkler installed.

On the other hand, one of the drawbacks of this solution is the possibility that the water will freeze in the narrow pipelines that lead it to the microsprinklers. The steam speed determines the freezing point. Therefore it is very important to set the right dimensions to make this antifreeze system work effectively. 

The big advantage is that the amount of water needed to run this system is much less than traditional irrigation system. In the case of a wall-mounted crop, the distance between the mirco-sprinklers is set to provide a continuous water mist over the entire line, thus providing effective protection. This system can save a large amount of water and can reduce the incorrect functioning of traditional pulsating sprinklers, thus reducing costs.

Line irrigation

(Apple orchards, small fruits and vineyards with narrow lines) This type of irrigation system, thanks to the Flipper system, reduces water consumption and makes it possible to protect a lareger area without pumping water between the lines. The main objective is the best precision, only aimed at trees where roads and between lines are avoided.