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Where should I use drip irrigation systems?

WP Law - Thursday, March 24, 2016
Drip Irrigation Pipes

What Is Drip Irrigation?

Drip irrigation waters plants literally one drop at a time. Sometimes the delivery mechanism runs across the open ground. Other times it’s buried underneath the soil. In either case, all drip irrigation systems contain three essential features:

  1. A pressurized source that maintains consistent water delivery. This can be a pump or simply a gravity-fed, graded layout.
  2. Tubing or pipe with small emission devices to control the release of water.
  3. Some type of filtration mechanism to keep dirt and debris out of the system.

This last feature points out one of the primary challenges of using drip irrigation: the need for effective filtration. Even a small amount of dirt or other contaminant can clog up the works, starving plants of needed nourishment.

Distributing fertilizer is another challenge when using drip irrigation. Traditional granular fertilizing agents can be applied prior to planting. Drip grade liquid fertilizers are available for injection into the drip irrigation system and can be used as supplements to the granular fertilizer.

So, should you use drip irrigation or not? The answer to this question depends on multiple factors. Here are six pros and cons of the method to help you make an informed decision.

Pros

  1. Drip irrigation is far more efficient than traditional methods. This makes it ideal for locations in which limited water is available for agricultural use.
  2. Drip irrigation can use partially treated wastewater, removing the need to make it potable first.
  3. Drip irrigation allows growers to fine-tune their watering methods to the unique characteristics of their soil, growing season, and other variables.

Cons

  1. Depending on the field layout, size, and elevation changes, drip irrigation systems can be complex and expensive to install.
  2. As mentioned before, effective filtration is essential to prevent drip irrigation systems from clogging.
  3. Because the grower never sees the water being delivered to the root systems, he or she must monitor plant health and growth carefully to ensure adequate hydration.

Have other questions about drip irrigation? We invite you to contact W.P. Law, Inc. for more information.

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