To Drip or not to Drip: There is No Question
Drip irrigation systems use plastic tubing with small emitters or holes placed at regular intervals. These emitters drip water at a chosen, usually slow, rate. It’s the perfect irrigation system for water conservation. Using a drip irrigation system increases your options for watering, saves water and energy, protects the land and provides numerous benefits to your plants. Plus, these systems are easy to install, move and remove.
Most non-drip irrigation systems are time-of-day-dependent and not just because of the risk of watering in the evening which often encourages disease in your plants. Winds are typically stronger at midday and non-drip irrigation systems are susceptible to drift. Drift occurs when the larger drops of water produced by non-drip irrigation systems are carried off course by the wind. Drift not only “steals” water from your thirsty plants, it also creates waste in the form of runoff.
Temperature fluctuations and sloping land also interfere with the effectiveness of non-drip irrigation systems. Fluctuating temperature often wastes water in the form of evapotranspiration – a combination of evaporation and transpiration which occurs when plants give off vapor from absorbed water. Evapotranspiration not only wastes water, it also takes away from water available to your plants. If you have a landscaped slope, non-drip irrigation systems will likely create runoff as the water runs down the slope before the soil can absorb it. Again, your plants are not getting the benefit of the water and you have the added downside of soil erosion is the running water carries away valuable topsoil.
The water conserving benefits of drip irrigation systems can’t be beat. Drip irrigation provides water to the root system of each plant due to the placement of the hoses and their emitters. The water is applied directly above the root zones, cutting down on evaporation and reducing water usage by as much as 50%. Drip irrigation systems also save energy as they require lower pressure and transporting water to areas without enough natural water resources is all but eliminated.
Protecting the Land
Drip irrigation benefits the land by reducing runoff and preserving the land’s fertility by preventing topsoil loss. It targets only the plants you want, not the empty spaces between them and, due to the slow drip rate, soil is less likely to harden. This allows for greater aeration and healthier plants.
Helping Your Plants
All of the benefits we’ve already mentioned ultimately provide for healthier plants. For instance, weed and foreign plant growth is drastically reduced because only your chosen plants are receiving adequate water. As all your plants are receiving optimal watering, growth is likely to be uniform which makes for nicer looking landscape.
Drip irrigation systems also help farmers, both small and commercial. Proper water supply can increase the quality of your produce from 20% to 90% as well as encouraging your produce to ripen 2 to 3 weeks earlier than usual. Plants also benefit from the reduction of the risk of plant stress, typically brought on by under-watering.
Fertilizer application becomes a much more efficient and safer process when done with a drip irrigation system. Plants are less likely to be burned by fertilizer as the drip systems irrigate the ground just above the root system, not the entire plant.
Overall, the benefits of drip irrigation systems cannot be denied. They save water & energy, protects the land, nourish and protect your plants and even save you time. They are, literally, the “set it and forget it” of irrigation systems.