In simple terms, drip irrigation can be defined as an irrigation method that helps in conserving fertilizer and water by slowly dripping water to roots of plants to ensure. This ensures that water goes directly onto the root zone and is not wasted as is the case with various other irrigation methods.
A complete drip system consists of a network of pipes, pump, emitters, tubing and valves among other things. As far as the history of the drip irrigation system is concerned, historians have found signs of existence of primitive form of drip system in China as well as various other places during the first century BC.
The modern drip system is known to have begun development during the mid-19th century in Germany where researchers first started subsurface irrigation with the help of clay pipes. The modern system as it is currently used started in the early 20th century when researchers started using plastic pipes to create the system.
Various Benefits Of Drip Irrigation
Drip system has become extremely popular these days. This is true of areas where getting access to clean water is a challenge. This irrigation system is also preferred by many landscape irrigation professionals as it allows them to conserve water and do their job effectively.
It is estimated that drip irrigation systems can help in saving up to 65% of water as compared to other traditional irrigation systems. In this system, water is delivered at a very slow rate, at a low pressure near the root zone of the plant to ensure targeted watering. As far as the actual pressure in this irrigation system is concerned, it usually varies between 15 to 50 psi.
As far as the suitability of this particular irrigation system is concerned, it is considered mostly suitable for various row crops and trees where it is possible to put an emitter separately for each plant. This method is considered suitable only for high-value crops as installing a drip system costs a lot of money.
The drip system can be used in most of the soils. The only difference is that in clay soils, the water must be emitted slowly to avoid water run-off whereas the discharge rate in case of sandy soils will need to be more to ensure adequate wetting of the soil.
One of the most common problems with drip systems is that the water needs to be relatively clean to ensure that the emitters are not blocked due to debris or other such things in the water. If the water is not clean, the small waterways that range from 0.2 to 2 mm in diameter can easily get blocked.
Therefore, it is important that the water is free of sediments to be used as irrigation water. In case the water is not free of sediments, it needs to be filtered to be used as irrigation water. In addition to sediments, some other things such as fertilizer deposits, various dissolved chemicals and algae may also lead to blockage of the emitters. However, high quality drip systems can take care of all such problems and increase the efficiency of water usage by various degrees.
There are various types of drip systems including bubblers, drippers, micro-sprinklers, emitting pipe, emitting tubes, misters and foggers among others. A typical drip system includes a pump unit, laterals, a control head, mainline as well as sub mainline.
There are a number of benefits of drip irrigation. One of the biggest benefits is that it saves a lot of water. As the water is dripped from the emitter, precise amounts are delivered directly to the root zone of the plant which means that minimum amount of water is wasted. It also gives greater control to the user over the distribution of water which means that the user can decide the exact amount of water to drip to each plant.
It is estimated that drip system can save up to 70% water when compared to other irrigation systems such as flood irrigation. Also, it has been observed that crops grown using drip system grow consistently and mature fast. Also, yield may increase up to 200% with the help of drip system as water and fertilizer is used more efficiently.
It is estimated that drip irrigation system can help in saving up to 30,000 gallons of water each year as compared to the conventional pop-up sprinkler systems used for maintaining landscapes. It also helps in conserving water by proving water only to the desired plants. With the help of proper design, only desirable plants can be watered while avoiding watering walkways, driveways as well as weed. As far as total cost of a drip system is concerned, a well-designed small system does not cost much for a small area. The savings in terms of saved water are usually enough to offset the capital expenditure within a short period of time. Its suitability in farming depends on the type of crops for which this drip system is going to be used.