Irrigation Equipment - Drip Irrigation
Drip systems utilizes emitters or an emitter type system (leaky pipe, etc.) to dispense water one drop at a time directly to the root zone of individual plantings.
Drip is the most efficient method of applying water to a specific planting bed area. Thats a bold statement, but it is true. Drip systems apply water only to the area in need of water, run off and the effects of wind are eliminated. Emitter, bubbler, trickle, micro spray, and ooze methods are all considered drip irrigation in one way or another.
A drip system can be as simple as a few emitters on a specific zone to a series of drip zones that water foundation plantings, container-grown flowers, and vegetable gardens. In all cases, drip installations require additional and more complex equipment than the typical sprinkler system, including pressure reducing equipment and filters. With a drip system, the valves and controller must be carefully selected to ensure they are compatible with the watering times and flow rates used in drip irrigation.
For some, drip irrigation works like a charm. For others, it is a curse.
The first question in determining if drip irrigation is the right solution to a particular landscape irrigation problem should be, "Can the system be monitored?". Drip irrigation is a high maintenance method of applying water. It needs to be monitored regularly. Problems with a drip system may be harder to pinpoint and more difficult to fix. The small openings in drip emitters and tubes can easily be clogged by small contaminants or lime deposits. Poor filtration and back siphoning of contaminants into the emitters can render the system ineffective in a short time. Make sure your irrigation contractor is experienced with drip installations before utilizing a drip system in your landscape.
The Rain Bird Landscape Drip Irrigation Design Manual of 1984 lists 14 Pros and Cons of drip irrigation. These considerations continue to remain true and may help you decide whether a drip system is best for your situation. Here are the highlights of their research:
ADVANTAGES OF DRIP IRRIGATION:
Low pressure requirements (leaks are less critical)
Energy savings (lower pumping costs with lower pressure needs)
Low flow rates (water large areas with small pipes)
Water savings (only specific areas are wetted)
Reduced or no runoff (another benefit of low application rates)
Reduced weed growth (areas between plants are not watered)
Reduced puddling (avoiding high evaporation)
Precise water control (a product of low application rate and highly accurate irrigation controllers)
Doesnt seal the soil (slow application avoids saturation)
Low installation costs (lower than underground sprinkler systems)
Efficient fertilizing (through injection systems)
Saline water use (higher salt content can be tolerated because water isnt sprayed on leaf surface)
Better plant growth (constant moisture available)
Less plant stress (wet/dry syndrome reduced)
DISADVANTAGES OF DRIP IRRIGATION:
High maintenance (system requires constant monitoring)
No environmental effects (like cooling or frost control with sprinklers)
Requires pressure regulation (usually pressure reduction)
Susceptible to vandalism (particularly surface systems)
Potential of salt build up (at perimeter of wetted area)
Potential of clogging (from calcium deposits in water or contaminants)
Filtration often required (to help reduce clogging)
Cant see drip working (compared to sprinklers)
Shoddy products (products are constantly being introduced, often disappearing after a few months. Failed products hard to replace or impossible to find or repair)
Slow learning curve process for the landscape industry:
Many irrigators are not comfortable with drip design
Many irrigators are not familiar with installation procedures of drip
Maintenance people are not familiar with drip system repair
Because the wetted area is much smaller when delivered by drip compared to sprinklers, control is more critical in application of water to avoid plant stress
Drip irrigation design seems to have two camps. One advocates that drip is very simple and easy to design and install. The second takes a more technical and practical approach, indicating that a certain level of expertise is required to design a properly functioning system.
Irrigation Equipment Sections
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