The Advantages, and Disadvantages, of Drip Irrigation

Article excerpt

Drip irrigation is the slow and precise delivery of irrigation water just where the plants need it--at the roots. The advantages and disadvantages of drip irrigation are as follows:


* Water efficiency and conservation

The uniform application of water in drip irrigation systems can achieve high water efficiency. By applying water only where it is needed, there is less runoff and evaporation from leaves and soil. Research indicates that drip uses 30 to 50 percent less water than conventional watering methods, such as sprinklers. According to a recent study at the University of Rhode Island, drip irrigation is more than 90 percent efficient at allowing plants to use the water applied.

* Promotes healthier growth

One of the most important aspects of drip irrigation is the fact that, in many instances, a totally new and more favorable root zone environment is created, and a relatively constant soil moisture level is maintained. This fact has important implications, because it bears upon questions of plant water requirements, tolerance and control of disease. Watering only the roots of your plants with drip irrigation cuts down on water-borne pests and fungal diseases that spread by water movement, as well as the germination of weeds in the area between your plants. Because the water is applied frequently and in small amounts just where the plants need it--at the roots--drought stress is avoided and lush growth is encouraged. Because drip systems apply water at the roots, the rest of the soil and plant remains dry, deterring the growth of unwanted weeds, pests and pathogens. …