Also known as trickle irrigation or micro irrigation, drip irrigation system is an irrigation method that allows water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either onto the soil surface or directly onto the root zone, through a complex network of valves, pipes, tubing and emitters. After the invention of the impact sprinkler, it is definitely one of most valued innovation in global agriculture since it saves water and fertilizer.
Though the modern technology of this irrigation system is just recently recognized and used widely, it has actually been used since ancient times. Back then clay pots filled with water were buried, allowing the water slowly and gradually drip into the grass.
As for the modern one, clay pipe is used to create a combination of irrigation and drainage system. Today, instead of releasing water through many tiny holes, water was released through a plastic emitter, and using velocity it can be managed to flow slower.
Drip irrigation may also use micro-spray heads, which spray water in a small area, instead of dripping emitters. These are generally used on trees and vine crops with wider root zones.
Defining such factors as land topography, soil, water, crop and agro-climatic conditions is crucial to determine the most suitable drip irrigation system and components needed.
Drip irrigation is used to irrigate various forms of agricultural, from farms to commercial green houses to average residential gardeners. Drip irrigation is extensively used in regions with very limited water supply, especially for such crops as coconuts, grapes, bananas, citrus, strawberries, sugar cane, cotton, maize and tomatoes.
For trees and vine crops with wider root zones it can also be used, by adding micro-spray heads as its component.
Compared to other types of irrigation, such as flood or overhead sprinklers, drip irrigation exhibits less evaporation and deep drainage; thus, more water is conserved. Studies show that with drip irrigation system, only 30 – 50 per cent water is used, compared to the conventional watering methods. This is a huge help for farmers in regions with limited water supply.
More over, since the water is delivered where it is needed, drip irrigation eliminates plant diseases that usually spread through water contact with foliage, discourages weeds and improves the plants growth.
Additionally, drip irrigation saves money and time. You do not have to set and move sprinklers. A timer can be added into it. Even better, it can be easily modified to meet the changing needs of gardening.
Keep in mind that these advantages cannot be obtained if the drip irrigation system is not properly designed, installed and managed. Otherwise, it definitely saves both the earth and your budget.