Compared to conventional sprinkler systems, drip irrigation systems are simple to design, inexpensive, and easy to install. Traditional high volume, high pressure sprinkler systems require careful planning, extensive trenching, and special tools and glues. These efficient systems deliver water measured in Gallons Per Hour (GPH), and apply water only where it is needed. This can improve plant health, conserve water, and reduce the growth of weeds all at the same time.
Drip irrigation is a system of crop irrigation involving the controlled delivery of water directly to individual plants through a network of tubes and pipes.
This is also known as tickle irrigation, micro irrigation or localized irrigation. This method saves water and fertilizer by allowing water to drip slowly to roots of the plants, either onto the soil surface or directly onto the root zone.
COMPONENT OF DRIP IRRIGATION
The component used in drip irrigation include:
- Pump or pressurized water source
- Water filters or filtration system
- Main line (large diameter line)
- Smaller diameter polytubes
- Poly fittings and accessories
- Emitting devices at plants (emitter and dripper)
THOSE WHO USE DRIP IRRIGATION
Drip irrigation is used in farms, commercial greenhouses and residential gardens. Drip irrigation is adopted extensively in areas of acute water security and especially for crops and trees.
NOTE: Drip tapes can only be used in a organised, well planned farm with a fixed plant spacing. This is drip tapes have fixed spacing for the holes on them. For instance 30cm spacing, 50cm spacing, 1m spacing etc.
- Determine a water source. Borehole water is good as long as it will be free from debris. The overhead tank must be at least 2 meters above the ground.
- Use a 2-inch pipe as outlet from the overhead tank.
- Connect the drip tape to the 2-inch diameter pipe using the accessories (provided along with the drip tape package).
- The pressure needed for the water to circulate is affected by the height of tank above the ground and reduction from the 2-inch pipe to ½ inch drip tapes on the farm beds.
- Ensure the water drips at the point of planting.
ADVANTAGES OF DRIP IRRIGATION
- Fertilizer and nutrient loss is minimized due to localized and reduced leaching.
- Water application is high if managed correctly
- Field leveling is not necessary
- Field with irregular shapes are easily accomodated
- Moisture within the root zone can be maintained at field capacity
- Soil type plays less importance in frequency of irrigation.
- Soil erosion is lessened.
- Weed growth is lessened.
DISADVANTAGES OF DRIP IRRIGATION
- Initial cost can be more than overhead systems.
- If the water is not properly filtered and equipment not properly maintained, it can lead to clogging.
- Drip irrigation might be unsatisfactory if herbicides or top dressed fertilizers need sprinkler irrigation for activation.
- Drip tapes causes extra cleanup costs after harvest. Users need to plan for drip tape winding disposal, recycling or reuse.