N-Drip and Rion prevent flood irrigation water waste using innovative irrigation technology

Global warming created a new reality requiring farmers throughout the world to well plan their water consumption. The innovative N-Drip dripper, combined with Rion’s efficient manufacturing, saves more than half the irrigation water, and maintains cost-efficiency
December 13, 2022

Global warming is one of the urgent issues of our time. Greenhouse emissions have not declined, and the argument between global warming deniers and those who believe that it is an established fact – continues, as do record breaking temperatures year after year. Global warming causes declining water sources and reduced precipitation, posing an increasingly growing challenge for farmers and agriculture.

The fighting between Russia and Ukraine, both large wheat exporters, gives us a taste of the far-reaching implications of this process for society. To prevent this dangerous situation the introduction of new technologies in agriculture is imperative.

Israel – an agrotech superpower

Israel is not a stranger to agriculture innovation. As a very small country on the edge of the desert, the State of Israel had to find innovative solutions that would enable it to develop agriculture it could be proud of. One of the country’s pioneering inventions was drip irrigation. This solution, which is comprised of a labyrinth of small ducts that slow the flow of water, enables the precise supply of water near the plant root, while preventing the waste of precious water.

Standard drippers – are not suitable everywhere

Drip irrigation is an important technology, yet it cannot serve all farmers everywhere. Standard drippers require the use of pressure and very clean water – without which the drippers will become clogged. Consequently, costly filtering systems with designated filters are required, and this in addition to pumps needed to create pressure in the drip line. These are all expensive for most agriculture in the world, which receives its irrigation water from open rivers and canals, and without the necessary pressure for drip irrigation. Accordingly, only a small percentage of the fields in the world are irrigated with standard drippers, while most agriculture the world over is based on flood irrigation. This is an ancient and wasteful method, and in fact when growing rice causes growing conditions that emit methane – an especially harmful greenhouse gas. What’s more, with decreased precipitation, many farmers who depended on this irrigation method now face a problem.

Drip irrigation – the next generation

N-Drip, founded by Prof. Uri Shani, Israel’s former Water Commissioner, offers an innovative solution that is patent protected and includes a dripper manufactured here at Rion. This solution enables irrigation using “dirty” water and does not require costly investment in pumps and filtration. The system needs considerably less water pressure compared to the standard micro irrigation system, such that pressure created by only half-a-meter height is enough. The system is suitable for flood-irrigated flat and leveled fields, which make up most of the world’s agriculture.

The company’s irrigation systems are already in operation in various countries, and enable irrigation using unfiltered water, thus saving 50-60 percent of the required quantity of water. Cotton growers in Australia and farmers in western U.S. are already using the N-Drip system, successfully growing crops with less water. Even the multinational PepsiCo grants subsidies and benefits to its farming suppliers in India so that they can acquire the new irrigation system.

Transition to industrial large-scale production

After successfully working with a small injection supplier, N-Drip began to search for another manufacturer that could support larger volume of orders which began to accumulate. Such a manufacturer would need to have, in addition to manufacturing capabilities, high level planning and execution abilities in the mold field. This capability is needed to reproduce existing molds and perhaps also improve them, and to do so within a short period of time. N-Drip chose Rion for this task. “All we did was tailor their innovative product to plastic injection technology”, explains Aharon Weiss, the engineering manager at Rion. “A short time after reproducing the first mold with its 32 cavities, we used the help of our mold department under the management of Ronen Rave to produce two additional and improved molds. These were manufactured after pre-planning, such that the areas in the mold with increased erosion are replaceable”.

Tami Shor, N-Drip COO, goes on to explain: “the first mold was manufactured only four months after we approached Rion. Not every partner is willing to dive into deep waters and take on such unconventional projects. We were glad to discover that our friends at Rion are not your standard partner. Their professionalism enabled us to focus on the functionality of the dripper, while leaving the mold planning to them. Ronen Rave and the Mold Department team knew to ask the right questions and to plan an efficient mold to manufacture in large quantities, while maintaining product quality. Manufacturing the mold at Rion enables us to market the dripper at a competitive price”.

A strong foundation for continued joint activity

The rapid service and increased orders open the door to expanded activity. “Work on planning the molds for the next generation of drippers is already underway. We made changes and additional geometric adjustments to help shorten manufacturing cycle times while maintaining the dripper’s functionality. As such we are tailoring N-Drip’s innovative development to plastic injection technology, and to large-scale production”, summarizes Aharon Weiss from Rion.

Picture 1: from right to left: Aharon Weiss, engineering manager at Rion; Ronen Rave, Mold Department manager at Rion; and Dudu Leib, Rion's CEO, in an experimental agriculture field irrigated with NDrip’s innovative dripper.

Picture 1: from right to left: Aharon Weiss, engineering manager at Rion; Ronen Rave, Mold Department manager at Rion; and Dudu Leib, Rion’s CEO, in an experimental agriculture field irrigated with N-Drip’s innovative dripper.

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