What is Drip Irrigation?

What is Drip Irrigation?

Drip irrigation is the preferred method of irrigation in the drier regions throughout Australia. It is the most efficient method of irrigating, coming in at 90% or higher efficiency whereas sprinkler systems are typically around 75-85%. This allows for less water to be used and for your wallet to take less of a beating from the quarterly water bill. For homeowners, saving water and money is a huge win.

Let’s not stop there though, drip irrigation has other benefits which make it useful almost anywhere. Let’s talk about exactly what drip irrigation is and the advantages you can expect when you choose it for your home.

How Does Drip Irrigation Work?

Drip irrigation (also sometimes called trickle irrigation) works by slowly administering water directly to the soil. Drip irrigation is highly effective because of two factors. 

  • The first being that water is allowed to absorb into the soil before it evaporates or has run off. 
  • The second reason is that the water is applied only where it is needed, at the plant’s root, instead of being sprayed on top of the plant.

What Are The Components Of A Drip Irrigation System?

The major components of a drip irrigation system are:

Valve: A drip valve controls the flow of water. These are customisable and you can outfit a water valve with an automatic timer and set pre-programmed watering times for your system. 

Filter: The filter prevents dirt and debris from clogging the tubing of the irrigation system.

Pressure Regulator: Since the water pressure from a typical home is too strong for a normal drip irrigation system, a pressure regulator is a good choice, not only because it decreases the water pressure, but also because it  provides a constant low-pressure flow no matter if your home water supply’s pressure tends to fluctuate or not. 

Backflow Preventer: This device helps to prevent water in the irrigation system from getting sucked back into your drinking water supply when your drip system is turned off. This stops any dirt or bacteria from the soil contaminating your drinking water. 

Dripline: Also known as a distribution line, this flexible tubing that sends water from the valve to your plants. The dripline connects to the pressure regulator from a tubing adapter.

Emitters: Drip irrigation emitters, also called drippers, are small plastic pieces that connect to the tubing and discharge water into the soil. Generally, most plants require one or two emitters to receive the proper amount of water.

End Cap: An end cap, also known as a flush valve, helps to prevent water from running out the end of a drip line. It is recommended that you remove the end cap at least once a year to flush out any dirt or bacteria that has built up inside the tubing. Flush the tubing until the water runs clear and then reapply the cap. 

Plants Prefer Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation offers plants a balanced way to get their water and nutrients on a consistent basis. This ensures the best possible scenario for growth and production yield of crops and personal gardens. With other methods, you run the risk of overwatering or starving your plants, but drip irrigation gives a steady, root-deep water flow. 

Advantages of Drip Irrigation:

  • High availability of water and nutrients
  • Soil erosion is lessened
  • Weed growth is lessened
  • Doses of water and nutrients are tailored to the plant’s development needs
  • Good soil aeration
  • Avoids high salinity caused by excessive fertiliser application
  • No wetting of foliage that can result in fungal diseases
  • Fertiliser and nutrient loss is minimised due to localised application and reduced leaching
  • Plants remain dry which reduces the risk of disease
  • Water efficiency is high if managed correctly
  • Field levelling is not necessary
  • Fields with irregular shapes are easily accommodated
  • Recycled non-potable water can be safely used
  • Moisture within the root zone can be maintained at field capacity

Disadvantages of Drip Irrigation

  • The small drip line holes can get clogged, especially if the water contains iron. These holes can prevent flow of water
  • Drip irrigation systems take planning and coordinating
  • Maintenance is required to make sure the system is running properly
  • Routine checks must be made and seasonal blowouts must be done
  • The sun can degrade the tubing so you may have to replace it after a while

Which plants are suitable for drip irrigation?

One of the best parts of drip irrigation is that any plant can be grown using its method. From field crops such as corn and soybeans, to growing vegetables, through to tree crops are all growable with the way drip irrigation allows plants to get suitable water distribution every time. No matter if it is a flat or sloped field, drip irrigation can handle all land topographies.  

Get the Garden of Your Dreams

The crew here at The Garden Men know all the ins and outs of irrigating and maintaining any kind of lawn. Our services include landscape design, garden maintenance, irrigation service, strata maintenance, and other gardening services. Put the health of your lawn or garden in our capable hands and reach out to us today for experienced care and service.

Outdoor Assessment Cover

Grab our
Free Checklist

Want to save time by checking your outdoor area yourself? Our Outdoor Assessment will guide you through the main things to look for to identify areas of improvement in your outdoor area.

You may like

Grab our
Totally FREE
Outdoor Assessment

Check over your own outdoor area using the same assessment process we use here at The Garden Men. It’s how we make sure everything is running in tip top shape, and find any problems or things that need work…. before they get out of hand!