Drip Irrigation PDF Print E-mail

Drip irrigation is possibly one of the most efficient methods of irrigating your tunnel crops. In most cases it can reduce water usage by as much as 50% due to the water being applied directly to where it is needed as opposed to other methods such as with sprinklers which can result in waste. Not only can you save water with this method but you could also increase your yield as the water and nutrient concentration is improved. Another positive effect is that the development of diseases is reduced as the plant roots receive the water directly and there is no moisture on the leaf and stem structures as with a sprinkler system.

 

In order to attain these benefits, it is only natural to assume that a properly designed irrigation system is implemented. The amount of water application and timer setting is crucial to the success of a drip irrigation system and requires a certain level of management and maintenance. As an example, you would have to continuously check that no blockages exist in the system. The prevalence of blockages may be dependent on your water quality. If you are using borehole water which has the correct or acceptable pH level, you may still pick up silt in the water which can lead to blockages. Please note that drip irrigation systems suffer more from blockages than a pressurised system. Chemicals such as chlorine can be used with great success to prevent clogging caused by biologigal and chemical contaminents.

 

Advantages

  1. Huge water savings (as much as 50%) due to better water targeting
  2. Energy savings as you do not require high pumping pressures
  3. More effective use and control of water volumes as you can supply the correct amount of water at the correct times
  4. Reduced amount of fungus and disease as only the roots receive water
  5. Due to better control, operating costs can be reduced. Using automation instruments can reduce labour costs
  6. You control where the water goes. Using sprinkler systems would mean you irrigate between the plants and walking paths. With drip irrigation, you don't have this problem
  7. Harvesting can be done during irrigation
  8. Better weed control - minimal weed growth between plants brought about by over-irrigating with other methods
  9. Reduce waste of fertilisers as they can be mixed into the water system which is then directly applied to the root system
  10. Minimal or no soil errosion

Disadvantages

  1. May cost more to implement this sytem initially but the return on investment over time is greater
  2. Management is more critical than other methods as blockages and other unforseen irrigation delays can damage crops
  3. Drip irrigation offers no frost protection. Sprinkler irrigation can offer a greater level of protection
  4. Drip irrigation tubes an accessories are more prone to damage by people, insects and rodents which may result in leaks, water wastage and lack of irrigation
  5. Drip irrigation accessories have small openings and are prone to blockages. Therefore adequate filtration is necessary to ensure consistent irragation policy is perpetuated
  6. Water distribution in the growing medium is restricted and you must place the dripper correctly for optimum results