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Drip irrigation: Advantages, Disadvantages and Components

The irrigation drip, also known under the name of “drip irrigation” is a method used in irrigated areas arid therefore allows the use of water and fertilizers.

The water applied by this method of irrigation infiltrates the roots of the plants, directly flooding the zone of the roots through a system of pipes and emitters (drippers), which increase productivity and yield per unit area. This technique is the most critical innovation in agriculture since the invention of the sprinklers in the 1930s.

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Advantages

Use of small flows at low pressure, optimizing the use of irrigation water.

The increase of the yield by the work and the resources employed as well as the productivity per hectare

Location of water in the vicinity of the plants through a variable number of emission points (emitters or drippers).

By reducing the volume of wet soil, and therefore its storage capacity, it must operate with a high frequency of application, at small flows. When the water is at a higher pressure, it will rise better towards places of greater height. In a modern drip irrigation system, the pressure is controlled with a small electric pump in each plot. And recently mobile applications or Internet have been developed that allow the remote control of the operation of the drip irrigation system for each plot individually, thus optimizing the use of the irrigation system according to the needs of the same.

 

Disadvantages

Increases salinization of soils: current waters and even rainfall in arid areas with a predominance of calcareous or marly rocks leave a white lime film on the floors that waterproof them and cause surface cracking that dries the topsoil to a depth of about 10 cm or more. This problem is so serious that it is very important to use a mixed system (with irrigation by flooding in the plots interposed between the drip irrigation every so often) or to develop a seasoning (saó in Valencian) a couple of days after heavy rain, superficially breaking the floors to prevent the calcium carbonate film from remaining on the surface.

Decreases water quality in the drip irrigation system. This impoverishment of water quality is due to the transformation of calcium carbonate in rocks and soil, which is not soluble in water, in calcium bicarbonate that is. But this transformation is easily reversible because when the bicarbonate water dries or infiltrates, a molecule of water is lost and reverts back to calcium carbonate. And the decrease in water quality coincides with the summer in the water of the reservoirs due to the scarcity of rain and evaporation, which forces the concentration of calcium bicarbonate, which obviously does not evaporate.

The quality of drinking water decreases, for the same reason as the previous one: also in water reservoirs for urban uses, increases the concentration of salts (not only of calcium bicarbonate) gradually decreasing the potability of water, which will require additional treatment to improve your employment

In drip irrigation or in rainfed agriculture, the risks of intense storms (dry storms, hailstorms) in the autumn and frosts in the winter are greater. The knowledge of this fact has been known for quite some time, but these risks have not been evaluated. As a universal rule, it can be said that both the risks of storms and hail in the fall and frost in the winter are greater in the dry areas than in the areas with surface water (areas with the irrigation system by flood, for example, streams of the most abundant rivers, lakes, etc.). This is due to the phenomenon of diathermancy. And in a study of the FAO (Organization of the United Nations for the Agriculture and the Feeding) the method of the flood is recommended to avoid the frosts in the cultivation of fruit trees as the orange trees located in the northern limit of its ecological zone.

 

Components

Most large drip irrigation systems use a certain type of water filter to prevent clogging of small spout tubes. Certain systems used in residential areas are installed without additional filters since the drinking water is already filtered. Virtually all manufacturers of drip irrigation equipment recommend that filters be used and generally do not give guarantees unless this is done.

Drip irrigation is used almost exclusively using potable water as regulations generally advise against spraying non-potable water. In drip irrigation, the use of traditional fertilizers on the surface is almost ineffective, so drip systems often mix the liquid fertilizer or pesticides in the irrigation water. Other elements such as chlorine or sulfuric acid are also used to systematically clean the system.

If adequately mounted, installed, and controlled, drip irrigation can help realize significant water savings by reducing evaporation. On the other hand, drip irrigation can eliminate many diseases that arise from the contact of water with leaves. In conclusion, in regions where water supplies are very limited, a significant increase in production can be obtained by using the same or less water than before.

Irrigated drip irrigation: consists of a polyethylene pipe winder moved by a 50w motor with reducers that allows winding 6m of pipe every hour. At the end of the pipe is a tricycle with transverse arms that distribute the water to the ground through small hoses according to the plantation frame. This system does not wet the leaves, avoiding the proliferation of fungi, does not wet the entire surface of the soil, saving water, low pressures are enough to save energy, and it is usable with small flows of water.

In very arid regions or on sandy soils, the best technique is to water as slowly as possible (less than 1 liter per hour); This is called capillary irrigation, and achieves a hydroponic effect in natural soil, saving significant costs.

Drip irrigation is used intensively in the cultivation of coconut, vine, banana, strawberries, sugar cane, cotton or tomatoes.

It is remarkable its use in agricultural farms, intensive agriculture, Almeria, and Murcia, where, in the face of shortages, farmers seek a minimum expenditure of water.

The most efficient irrigation system has been created in Israel and consists of a capillarity irrigation system and oxygen sensors that manage to save 40% more water than conventional crops.

The kits drop by drop for the garden they are increasingly popular with homeowners. They consist of a timer, a pipeline, and several drippers.

A pressure reducer is also needed so that the pressure is not excessive in the system. The drippers can go off if it is not regulated properly.

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