How does drip irrigation work is a common question we get from new farmers. Drip irrigation is an effective method of irrigation because it conserves water. This is by irrigating just around the root zone.
Drips irrigation works by dripping water under pressure through pre-perforated emitters. These calibrated emitters supply a specific amount of water per given time. This is the flow rate.
How Does Drip Irrigation Work?
Drip irrigation works under both low and high pressure. Low pressure occurs mainly under gravity flow. High pressure is both under intense gravity flow, or water pump pressure.
It is important to provide water at the right pressure, and quantity.
Water wets the soil through infiltration. This is a a factor of;
- the flow rate
- rate of water application to the soil
- soil texture.
The infiltration rate of a given soil is constant. Therefore, a higher water application rate than the infiltration rate results to run off. Run off wastes water. A low water application rate will result to vertical infiltration that may go deeper than the root zone. This will result in leaching of plant nutrients.
Drip irrigation is supposed to form a bowl like shape. This shape later joins together to form an irrigated zone of about 20cm wide. The depth of water infiltration depends on the hours of irrigation. If the drip irrigation system’s pressure is low, water will move to the lower side. This will be at the expense of the higher side, resulting in irregular distribution of water.
On flat land, water will move vertically more than horizontally. It will fail to cover the entire root zone width wise. If it covers eg 75% , your crop will cut its targeted yields by 75% .
In answering how does drip irrigation work to farmers, it is as explained above. Many farmers fail to meet their target production due to a malfunctioning drip irrigation system. Plants take their food only in solution form . This means that when the moisture is low in the soil, the plant cannot absorb nutrients. Production is low, even with fertiliser application