The main premise of the drip irrigation method is being able to water plants using a small amount of water delivered through pressurized pipes and drippers without creating problems that might otherwise arise from lack of moisture in the root zone.
One of the most important aspects of this method is that the watered zone is only along the plant line, leaving the rest of the field dry, thus using the least amount of water possible.
The advantages of the drip irrigation method are as follows:
- When water resources are scarce and costly, a much larger highly-targeted zone can be watered rather than covering the whole field with water.
- Because the watered zone is shadowed by the plant itself, evaporation is minimal and the consumption is lowered.
- The required moisture level in the root zone is maintained and the plant gets its water from the soil without using much energy. This is an important advantage that facilitates effective growth.
- Fertilizers can be used via the dripping system (where and when they are required), reducing the volume needed.
- The land between the plant rows remain dry and unwanted plant growth is prevented.
- The surface of the soil is dry which enables processing, medication, harvest and transfer work to be executed more easily and with minimal effort.
- Foliage remains dry, thus reducing the risk of disease.Moisture is spread through the root zone, contributing to properly aired soil.
- The output of each nozzle can be controlled with great efficiency, high water application efficiency and lower labour cost due to the automated system.
Along with these advantages, there are some drawbacks that may restrict the usage of this method:
- The largest problem is that the drippers get clogged. To prevent this, water must be very well-filtered and chemicals must be used to clean out the system.
- Because the surface isn’t watered with the drip irrigation method, there is certain degree of salting. The salt is washed away if the zone receives more than 300mm yearly. If this isn’t the case with the location of the field, supportive surface watering methods must be employed.
- The initial cost of drip irrigation systems are very high, but if the plant grown has a large economical value, the ability to water a larger field will still make drip irrigation a viable option.
Overall, drip irrigation can be a very effective method for:
- Areas where a water source is limited
- The plant grown is sensitive to soil moisture
- Vegetable and fruit farms
- Growth of decorative plants