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Above Canopy Irrigation

Above Canopy Orchard Sprinkler Systems

Not every orchard in New Zealand is the same, and not every irrigation system will work for everyone. Based on your environment and set up, you will need to come up with a system that can benefit you. Above the canopy, irrigation may work for some situations where below canopy isn't viable, or you need your frost protection to double as your irrigation system.

It is not a simplistic choice, and any decision has long term effects on costs and production, that need to be considered. It is always wise to consult with one of our designers before you decide on sprinkler type, flow rate, spacing etc.

Under Canopy versus Above Canopy

The reasoning for spraying under the canopy is to reduce the amount of disease caused by moisture in the canopy, Irrigating overhead is commonly done in New Zealand for frost protection and cooling.

There are different setups for under canopy irrigation, upright sprinklers on stakes of various types, upside down sprinklers hang via a tube, sometimes with a weight.

Above canopy orchard Irrigation

Which Sprinkler?

You need to consider the plant and specifically the root area that you are watering, for most plants irrigating a large portion of the root volume is essential. New Zealand's climate with regular rainfall commonly produces trees with extensive root volumes. A sprinkler system is the most common system we recommend for large root areas such as Apples, Pears, Stone fruit, Kiwifruit, Truffles, Passionfruit, Avocadoes, and Olives.

Drip systems are commonly used in crops such as Strawberries, Blueberries, Vineyards, and smaller orchard trees.

From all the options available, how do you choose a sprinkler system to suit your orchard?

If you are expanding an existing irrigation system the general recommendation is to stay with the same style of sprinkler you have as this will make management a lot easier, unless the existing sprinklers are causing a problem for you.

The sprinkler we recommend most is the Netafim Supernet, and there are some excellent reasons for this choice. The sprinkler has the best range of flow regulation in the market, and it has a self-flushing mechanism that reduces the chance of blocking, it is a quality sprinkler built to last, it has many stand options and connection options to suit.


  • Wide regulating range and floating, self-flushing diaphragm maintains uniform flow across a broad pressure range.
  • Highest distribution uniformity - unique nozzle tube prevents adverse effects of varying inlet pressure on the wetted diameter.
  • The largest water passages on the market – resists clogging.
  • Drop-down “bug-proof” swivel/jet plate prevents entry of insects.
  • Engineering-grade materials and heavy-duty bearing results in superior endurance and long-term reliable uniformity.
  • Everspin bearing has a layer of sapphire material to reduce friction and wear, promoting long-lasting sprinkler performance.
  • Bearing keeps the swivel centred during operation and improves

Common alternatives to the SuperNet sprinklers, for kiwifruit irrigation, are the Nelson R10 and R10 Turbos and the Rivulis S2000 sprinklers. The Netafim SuperNets, Nelson R10s and Rivulis S2000s are ideal choices for a wide range of applications including irrigation, cooling, and frost protection for orchards and groves.

Above canopy orchard Irrigation

A SuperNet Stake or Adapter can assist your above canopy installation. The adapter fits onto either a 6mm and 8mm fibreglass or galvanised rod. These stakes/adapters have a snap-on connection to your SuperNet Sprinkler. Some systems use the stakes inserted into PVC pipe to hold the sprinkler upright for frost mitigation, which can double for an under canopy irrigation system.


If you would like to talk to one of our experts on what would suit your orchard, please phone on 0800 130 905, or fill out the form below to email.

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