Drip irrigation, also known as micro irrigation or trickle irrigation, is gaining popularity across the world because of the several benefits it offers to drier parts of the world. Over the last two decades, use of drip irrigation has grown several folds – land under drip irrigation has grown from 1.6 m hectare in 1992 to around 10.3 m hectare in this year. In many parts of the word, use of drip irrigation in agriculture is heavily subsidized to encourage its use.
Discussed here are some benefits of using drip irrigation that make it especially suitable for Australia.
1) As water is not lost to evaporation or run-off, drip irrigation makes lot of sense where water supply is scarce
2) Drip irrigation prevents growth of weeds around the crop/plant, thus allowing healthy plant growth
3) Reduces the probability of fungus growth as it does not moisten other parts of the plant
4) Prevents salinity of soil
5) Drip irrigation is particularly useful in lands with sandy soils which have high infiltration rate and low storage capacity
6) For a sloppy landscape where water run off happens, using drip irrigation can solve the problem.
How drip irrigation works
It makes water available at the right place (close to the plant roots) through drip tubing that runs close to the ground and stem of plants. The drip tubing is designed for low pressure and is available in sizes as small as ¼”, ½” and ¾”.
Water supply is controlled and is supplied precisely where the need is through emitters or drippers installed on the drip tubing. A network of drip tubes run across the field, close to the plants. These drip tubes are fed by a main pipe which is generally made of rigid PVC or polyethylene.
The main pipe is connected to a source of water and feeds the microtubing or drip tubing. Water supply to the main pipe is controlled through a control valve. Hence, supply can be turned off or on when desired.
Water reaches the plant through emitter installed on the microtubing. Emitters are the heart of the system and are available in different sizes. Emitters control the rate at which water is supplied to the plant. You can choose between single outlet emitter and multi-outlet emitter depending upon the water needs of the plant that you are irrigating. If there are different sizes and types of plant, different types of emitters are installed for each.
To ensure these emitters are not clogged by debris, a filter is installed between the control valve and the pressure regulator. The emitters have a small orifice, hence even a small contaminant can block the flow of water. The filter will block any debris or sand grains from getting into the water supply that is made available to the plants. A 150 mesh filter does the job well.
A backflow preventer is also installed close to the control valve so that debris or other small objects present in water are not pushed back into the water supply.
A pressure regulator is required to lower the supply water pressure to appropriate level. Drip irrigation systems are usually designed to operate at pressures as low as 20 psi. If the pressure is not regulated, we might see the emitters or drippers popping off.
Depending upon your need you may choose an adjustable or a non-adjustable pressure regulator. Non-adjustable pressure regulators deliver a constant pressure output and cannot be changed.
A flush valve or an end cap is installed at the end of the drip tubing so as to prevent the water from running out. For the purpose of draining out any debris that may be there in the drip tubing, these flush valves may be opened once a year.
Drip irrigation is a wonderful way of irrigating farms. If you are looking to install irrigation systems in Brisbane, look for a trustworthy supplier. There are several irrigation supplied in Brisbane who will offer guidance and install an irrigation system that is just right for your needs.
Author Bio: Shivani Sharma is associated with Total Water Services, a leading Australian company providing irrigation systems in Brisbane. The company specializes in all kinds of irrigation systems, including drip irrigation. If you are looking for irrigation solutions in Australia or want advice on irrigation, get in touch with Total Water Services.