Posted on 28 June 2011.
Your Irrigation System: Water Your Garden Efficiently and Effectively
For farmers and gardeners
alike, an irrigation system is essential to growing healthy, strong plants. Even in regions with adequate rainfall
an irrigation system is necessary, as it evenly and consistently distributes water to plants. A proper irrigation system ensures that your soil’s moisture level is conducive to the health of your plant. Irrigation systems range in complexity from bucket systems to the mechanized systems of large farms.
The Flood Irrigation System
One early irrigation system
, called flood
, or surface irrigation, consists of pumping or pouring water onto the highest point of a field, where it will flow down and across the rest of the field because of gravity. The flood irrigation system is the most common method of irrigation worldwide. One major draw-back to this irrigation system is its inefficiency. As water flows across the entire field, it flows even to places that don’t require irrigation, such as the furrows. Another draw-back of this irrigation system is water-logging. This irrigation system can sometimes over-moisturize the soil and over-water plants. Plants require a specific percentage of moisture in the soil in order to thrive; any percentage too low or too high may kill the plant
The Drip Irrigation System
Another irrigation system, drip irrigation, waters more precisely. Drip irrigation, also known as micro-irrigation or trickle irrigation, uses very thin plastic tubes, usually called drip tape, with small holes every few feet. These tiny holes usually release only a drop of water at a time. The grower lays the drip tape across the field alongside the plants and matches the small holes in the tape with the plants. When water is pumped through the drip tape, the drip system slowly waters each plant. This method prevents water loss to runoff. The system pumps the water directly into the ground, preventing the diseases that can occur when leafy material touches water. The drip tape is often buried an inch under the earth in order to protect the tape from tractors and to decrease the amount of water lost to evaporate. However, a drip irrigation system is expensive, and may cost over a thousand dollars per acre. Also, the drip tape can be easily clogged, requiring maintenance.
The Spray Irrigation System
The spray irrigation system
employs sprinklers. Some spray irrigation systems use long pipes with nozzles attached at regular intervals to spray fields with water. Other systems use a center-pivot that makes large circles around the field. However, this irrigation system is also costly, as it requires machinery, a major investment.