In light of climate change and an increasing global population, water consumption in agricultural production is becoming a more significant issue. Agriculture is the largest user of the planet’s limited water resources, which are becoming increasingly scarce. 75% of the freshwater on Earth is used for agriculture, while in certain poor nations, agriculture accounts for 90% of all water withdrawals.
The most water-efficient irrigation technology is drip irrigation, which significantly lowers a farm’s water usage while improving crop yields and quality. However, drip irrigation isn’t a miracle cure, just like every other watering technique. Installing drip irrigation costs money requires much labour, and may not be financially viable for lower-value crops.
Drip irrigation: What is it?
A low-pressure technology for precise water distribution is drip irrigation. It makes use of a network of emitters, pipelines, and sprinklers. Water is provided in small amounts but over extended periods of time using drip irrigation, sometimes referred to as trickling irrigation or micro-irrigation.
A drip or micro-irrigation system may boost a farmer’s water efficiency by up to 70% and save energy expenses by 50% compared to conventional irrigation techniques like center pivot irrigation or flood irrigation.
With drip irrigation, two fundamental inefficiencies in typical irrigation systems—water runoff and evaporation loss—are considerably reduced or eliminated at the ground level. An end cap is used to seal off drip irrigation pipes or tubing, enabling water to flow and pressurize through the whole pipe. As a result, the water is forced to drip (or spray) out of the emitter points under pressure.
Even though both galvanized iron and PVC pipes can be used for drip irrigation, flexible polyethene, sometimes known as “black roll pipe,” is the most widely utilized water delivery method in drip irrigation systems. Drip irrigation lines may be buried or laid to the ground depending on the crop, soil type, and production techniques.
How Does Drip Tape Affect Drip Irrigation?
Drip tape is a particular way to transport water in a drip irrigation system. Individual emitters are not required since drip tape contains slits and cuts purposely constructed inside a thin-walled drip tube pipe.
The thickness and distance between slits of drip tape vary. The distance between emitters should be at least 10 inches in sandier soil or when crops are planted closely together. In the cultivation of annual vegetables or cut flowers, farmers mostly employ drip tape. It is typically seen as a single-use product because it is set up, taken down, and thrown away in a single season.
Crops That Receive Drip Irrigation the Most
With drip irrigation, any crop may be watered. However, the cultivation of high-value specialty crops like vegetables or perennial crops like berries and fruit trees is where drip irrigation is most frequently applied.
Home gardeners frequently employ drip irrigation kits or micro irrigation systems in vegetable gardens or landscape plants.
Drip irrigation has several advantages for commercial vegetable row crop farmers, including low water and energy use, less weed pressure, and higher-quality produce less susceptible to disease and insect pressure. This lessens food waste during harvest and can help compensate for a drip irrigation system’s higher cost.
Drip irrigation system components
All drip irrigation systems are set up using the same fundamental parts and design elements, whether they use emitters, micro-sprinklers, or drip tape.
By simply attaching a garden hose to a regular faucet, drip irrigation can use water from a pond, irrigation canal, groundwater, or municipal water supply (such as county or city water). For drip irrigation systems, excessive iron content—which may be present in well systems—is unsuitable because it clogs emitters.
The water is transported from the source to the field via a pumping system. Pumping systems can be powered by electricity, fuel, gas, or sunlight. Contrary to center pivot irrigation and sprinkler irrigation systems, drip irrigation systems operate at low pressure, allowing even gravity to pressurize drip lines. Farmers that use a gravity-fed system can get water from mounted water tanks or barrels.
The distribution system connects to a mainline and transports the water from the source to the field head. Any tube with a diameter big enough to transport the required amount of water to the field can serve as a distribution system, including PVC pipes. The distribution system may be permanent or mobile, depending on the crops being produced (such as a flat tube).
Flexible tubing normally has a diameter of 1/2 inch. In a drip irrigation system, drip tape is attached to mainline tubing and normally travels at a 90-degree angle into the field, starting at the top of the watered area. When using a micro-sprinkler irrigation system, smaller mainline tubing is often fed into a header with a greater diameter, and sprayers are inserted into the tubing as necessary.
The mainline tubing is where the drip tube attaches. Water drops out of drip tape thanks to slits carved into the tubing. Wherever a drip point is wanted, emitters must be put into a drip tube.
Although most pumps or water systems supply water pressure considerably above that level, drip irrigation uses a low-pressure system that operates at roughly 25 pounds per square inch (PSI). Pressure regulators keep an eye on the pressure rate to prevent blowing out and leaking drip lines while they are in use.
Filters with screens are used to get rid of the debris, silt, and filth that would block drip tape lines, micro-sprinklers, and emitters. If the water is coming from a pond, irrigation canal, or stream, filters are very necessary. Up that situation, a farmer may put in a bigger, stronger filter at the pump location.
Small, flexible emitter tubing is placed into mainline or drip tubing and fastened to the location where the water drops out.
Sprayers and Emitters
Sprinkler nozzles or sprayers for micro-irrigation mounted on short risers that are placed into drip tubes. The drip tube is filled with emitters.
A device distributes water, fertilizer, or other substances through a drip line. This enables farmers to use their drip irrigation system for crop protection and fertilization requirements.
A programmable controller controls the system’s on/off operation and measures water flow through the system. The drip irrigation manifold that controls the whole system frequently includes system controllers. A controller could feature cutting-edge technology, such as variable-rate irrigation systems that let farmers react to the moisture state of their fields.
The Benefits Of Drip Irrigation System:
Here are some key benefits of using a Drip irrigation system for your gardens and other places.
1. The Efficiency of Drip Irrigation in Water, Energy, and Fertilizer
The most water-efficient irrigation technology is drip irrigation, which may use up to 90% less water than sprinkler systems, flood irrigation, or center pivot irrigation. Drip irrigation can reduce energy consumption since it is a low-pressure way of providing crop watering demands. Farmers may reduce their usage of pesticides and fertilizer by utilizing the precision level of a drip irrigation system in conjunction with injector systems.
2. Crop Yields and Quality are Increased by Drip Irrigation
Drip irrigation methods avoid encouraging leaf scalding or humid conditions that can result in pests, crop disease, and changes in crop quality that lower harvest yields since they distribute water at the root zone level.
3. The Flexibility of Drip Irrigation
Systems for drip irrigation offer great flexibility. They may be created for fields of any size and form. Additionally, drip irrigation systems are simple to extend and work even in areas with little water pressure.