Drip irrigation system, drips water rather than spraying or flooding over the foliages, is a highly efficient way of watering your plants; suitable for water and many more for plantation.
Most of the drip irrigation systems commonly used are surface drip systems. If you have a massive orchard garden, subsurface drip system, quite expensive though, makes a difference in watering the big trees.
Drip system operates through some essential components although not specific, and these constituents vary with the type you select. It delivers irrigation to plants through some hose pipes (porous or fitted with emitters) all around the garden.
Porous soaker systems are the most straightforward and affordable way while Emitter methods are ideal for your vegetable or flower beds and small plants. These two types are most regular in watering the garden where they supply a small amount of water in a very competent way. Others having their particular functions are discussed on this post as well.
Cost of conventional drip systems is quite practical apart from the initial fitting expense. Maintaining precisely you won’t cut your extra budget and hopefully, get the best yields from your garden.
- What is drip irrigation?
- Types of drip irrigation system
- Crops suitable Drip Irrigation System
- Cost and maintenance
- Advantages of drip irrigation
- Some drawbacks
What is drip irrigation?
Drip irrigation is a system of dripping water on or below the soil surface through some lateral pipes featuring several emitters or drippers directed to each plant. This system allows these drippers water and fertilizes slowly directly to the plants’ roots, not soaking the whole surface and preserving much water.
Drop by drop irrigation, unlike sprinkler and flood irrigation, ensures uniform application of water and nutrients to the root zone making plants able to reach optimal growth and deliver highest yields.
As the soil around the roots always remains wet, drip irrigation maintains constant moisture of the soil. It saves almost 90-95 % water from running off and thus put off the loss of fertilizer into the flow of water.
Principal components and operation of drip irrigation
The pump station, as its name implies, pump water from the source and deliver to the pipes.
This valve is connected to an automated controller and controls the discharge of water by turning it on or off.
When you are connecting your drip system to a tank contained drinking water, a backflow preventer is a way to protect the water from being grimy not allowing the pipe water goes back to the tank.
As nature teaches, water flows in its full pressure while entering into a narrow strip or pipe from a more extensive reservoir. But drip irrigation is designed to deliver water in almost zero pressure and pressure regulator does it regulating the full force of water to an optimal point.
Filtering of water is crucial, particularly for the drip system as substances like debris and dirt present in water may clog the emitters of the pipes.
Usually made of PVC or polyethylene, drip tubes carry the flow of water through the entire system and pass the water through the multiple emitters into the soil.
You might have already comprehended the function of transmitters over the discussions of other components. However, emitters are some tiny holes designed either manually or using devices to let water emits slowly from the laterals to the plants.
It is used to wash out all the congestion inside the pipes setting at the end of the pipelines.
Types of drip irrigation system
Broadly there are two types of drip irrigation:
The most common type of drip watering system that comes with several lateral pipes featuring a lot of tiny emitters directed to specific plants. These pipes can also be porous and are placed on the surface to maintain a uniform and frequent watering of all the plants of your whole garden. The drip tubes are connected to the main line that supplies water through a control valve.
Subsurface irrigation method, established below the soil surface is more complicated and costly. In this system, clogging of emitters is more frequent than that of surface drip system.
The subsurface irrigation system is ideal for fruit tree plantation and other perennial crops. Your garden bed or small plans don’t need the system.
Some of the other most specific types of drip systems are:
Porous Soaker Hose System
Permeable hose systems are the easiest type of drip irrigation that you can make from recycled products like automobile tires. You need to punch out quite a lot of tiny holes allowing water comes through and connect the hose to the water source.
These systems are very efficient for the shrubs , small garden plants or bed, hedges, and lawn grass. They sweat water along their entire body keeping plants roots moist all day long which allows the plants long lasting and resistant to scorching sun and winter.
Emitter Drip System
Emitter drip systems are a type made up of multiple hoses around your whole garden or landscape. These pipes are designed with many outlets (emitters) usually placed 12-20 inches apart those leak water drop by drop directly onto the roots.
The best thing of the system is that it drips water evenly to every plant, thus minimizes the waste of water. But it’s not suitable for winter as the emitters are prone to clogging and damages in frost.
Watermatic Drip System
This system mostly uses micro sprinklers head to pour water well on the plants. So it saves water in that way and doesn’t let it evaporate.
It is best for trees and flowering shrubbery and for an area where water supply is inadequate.
Micro Misting Sprinklers
Micro misting sprinklers, quite inexpensive, best for vineyards and orchards though, are widely used in backyards as well. This is also an efficient waterway of irrigation that water with mist slowly and evenly into the soil around roots.
The particular thing about this is: its fake mist keeps shallow roots cool thus refreshes leaves and flowers and also protects them from frosts of spring. It put a stop to root zones being warm even in a toasting hot day.
Crops suitable Drip Irrigation System
Drip irrigation is proper mainly for orchard crops; so many of them are Mango, Pomegranate, Grapes, Orange Banana, Guava, Pineapple, Muskmelon, Sapota, Aonla, watermelon, lemon, papaya.
This system brings the best outputs for vegetables also. Some suitable plants are Onion, Cabbage, Tomato, Chilly, Capsicum, Cauliflower, Cucumber, etc.
Some oilseeds such as sunflower and oil palm, and even few forest crops grow well with this irrigation process.
Cost and maintenance
If it is not correctly maintained, the repairing and maintenance would cost you, perhaps not less than the initial investment.
Filters need regular cleaning and observations so that so many debris and dirt might not hamper the filtering process.
Hose pipes leakage should be checked out whether there is any damage or hole in the pipes. If so, repair them quickly to avert uneven water distribution. Flash the drip line once in a month by opening the end or cap of the drip tape. Chlorine or sodium hypochlorite, applying in the right amount, can also be useful in cleaning the pipe if you inject periodically.
Industrial and commercial drip irrigation systems are quite pricey, but small scale drip systems are easy to arrange with some localized recycled resources that you might get free except for some assembling costs.
You can use buckets or barrels as a water reservoir and bamboo or least costing PVC pipes as drip hoses. Other additional apparatuses required to get all the things accumulated to make a right drip system should be bought. It costs more than manual irrigation but less than sprinkler or surface irrigation.
Advantages of drip irrigation
If designed and managed correctly, drip irrigation minimizes waste of water in every possible way. Here, the application of water is quite uniform and frequent, thus maintaining high efficiency for crops yields.
Decreased Weed and Disease
This system doesn’t flood the root zone avoiding water runoff, and eventually, weeds are not encouraged to grow around.
Wet leaves and soil create many diseases to plants when irrigated by sprinklers or surface systems. But the drip system doesn’t let it happen.
Optimal Fertilizer Application
Uniform and slow application of fertilizer through the droplets of water prevents loss or overdose of fertilizer. So, the drip system allows less fertilizing cost and much crop yields.
A simple drip system can water your garden in such a cheap way that you won’t get otherwise. You can make it from local materials, and its operation is quite smooth once it’s installed properly. Besides, the lower pressure needed for water supply reduces energy costs.
Other benefits at a glance
- Recycled water can be used safely; so the system is suitable for a dry area with water scarcity.
- Less soil erosion.
- Moisture remains steady in the root zone
- Any shape of the land (flat or steep) can be sprinkled without labeling or changing it.
- Less leaching of water, so less loss of nutrients
- Initial installation cost is higher as you have to buy some expensive, although long lasting, equipment (filter, pump, etc.). Replacing of drip tube would also cost you if you don’t buy the quality tube.
- Filtered water is recommended to prevent clogging of emitters by water substances. Depending on the type and source of water, you may need to install a network of multiple filters.
- Sun can affect the durability of the tubes, and repeated replacement of pipes may charge you a lot.