6 Best Uses for a Drip Irrigation System 6 Best Uses for a Drip Irrigation System
When deciding to use a drip irrigation system, you will need to be aware of the many different delivery methods, each suited to different water needs and climate conditions. Learn more below about the 6 best uses for a drip irrigation system.
Climates Where Drip Irrigation Is Best Used
Drip irrigation systems are used around the world in areas of semi-desert to full desert climates. Drip irrigation piping, tubes or subsurface tapes bring water and fertilizer to plant roots at close range. This aids in water management, preventing water loss due to evaporation, and also helps maintain a consistent moisture level in the water table. Many greenhouses in temperate climate zones now use drip irrigation systems to keep the air moisture to a minimum. This reduces the growth of molds and mildew that can clog or contaminate the irrigation piping.
Growing Conditions Best for Drip Irrigation
Drip irrigation can be easily adapted to fields with varying elevations and soil conditions. In dry, sandy soil areas, the volume of water can be increased, but delivered at a slower rate. In moist soil areas where the water may puddle, the water volume and rate of delivery can both be minimized. Pumps can be installed to move water upward to the highest portions of the growing area, and wide pipes with drip membranes can slow the water flow downhill to lower elevations.
When Drip Irrigation Systems Should Be Active
Activate your drip irrigation system at times when the surrounding air mass is coolest: in the early morning, at and after sunset. Subsurface drip irrigation can be active all day, as the soil atop them does not heat up as quickly as the air. Greenhouse drip irrigation can also take place throughout the day.
Greenhouse Drip Irrigation
Drip irrigation with plastic micro-tubing was first used in greenhouses in Europe and the United States following World War II. This enabled growth of food plants all year round, even in cold, dry winter weather. The greenhouse interior could be kept warm enough to keep the water in the micro-tubing liquid and flowing with pumps. Drip irrigation through micro-tubing also reduces spraying of water onto the leaves and stems of plants, cutting down on the spread of infection and reducing insect infestation.
Desert Drip Irrigation
On desert farms, drip irrigation uses large-diameter, long pipes to slow the water flow and divert the water in different directions. These larger pipes with concentrated spray emitters keep water moving and reduce clogging. The emitters, situated near plant roots, spray in a narrowly defined area just above the ground. Runoff and evaporation are minimized, and the water does not percolate into the water table. These surface drip irrigation systems work well because they are easy to inspect and maintain, unlike subsurface drip irrigation systems. They also reduce weed growth as the desired plants get the most water.
Drip Tape Systems
Drip tape systems, installed below the soil, are excellent for irrigation and also for delivery of fertilizer directly to plant roots. The fertilizer goes where it is needed and does not get leached out of the soil.