UBC Undergraduate Research

An investigation into drip tape use for annual crops at the UBC farm Copes, Kevin; Wan, Douglas


The UBC farm currently uses two types of technology to irrigate their crops. The problem posed by the farm was to recommend a type of irrigation system for their facility. Two main solutions appeared which could potentially be suitable for use at the farm. Both a drip tape irrigation system and a traditional overhead sprinkler system had pros and cons, and through the use of a triple bottom line assessment an investigation was conducted to see which technology is a more sustainable choice for the farm. This report covers the environmental, social and economic aspects of each technology. With regards to the environmental impact of each technology the aluminum irrigation was found to be a more environmentally friendly solution for UBC. Although drip tape is perceived to be more environmentally sustainable, there are few places to recycle it in Metro Vancouver, and its lifespan is shorter than the aluminum alternative. Moreover, the aluminum system is made from a readily available resource, which is easily recyclable in many areas throughout Metro Vancouver. With respect to the social impacts, drip tape is regarded to be a better choice. The UBC farm prides itself on raising awareness about sustainability in the community. By having the drip tape technology at their farm the community could be exposed to different irrigation solutions, and it would raise awareness on different types of suitable solutions which are available. When analysing the economic aspect of each technology, the results varied. For larger farms over 20Ha, it appeared that aluminum irrigation the better solution; however, for smaller farms under 20Ha, drip tape is a more profitable enterprise. When considering the small size of the UBC farm it is clear drip tape is the more economically viable solution. When considering the triple bottom line assessment, it is clear that drip tape is the most suitable solution for the UBC farm irrigation problem. Although it may not be the most environmentally friendly choice, the social awareness it would raise, as well as the economic benefits makes it the better choice. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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