Drip Irrigation - History & Benefits
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Drip Irrigation - History & Benefits
Drip Irrigation, also commonly referred to as micro-irrigation, trickle irrigation, low volume irrigation or xerigation. This is a method of irrigation which very efficiently delivers water to the soil surface or the root zone; this is done by having water drip slowly from emission devices, most commonly called "drip emitters" or “drippers”.
Early forms of drip irrigation can be traced back to ancient times where clay pots were filled with water and then buried in the ground, this allowed the water to gradually leak out and into the root zone of nearby vegetation. The first formal development of drip irrigation supplies began around 1866 in Afghanistan, where they tested drip irrigation and drainage systems by using various types of clay pipe. A researcher at Colorado State University, Mr. E.B. House, began applying subsurface water directly to the root zone in 1913. Perforated Pipe was first used for irrigation in Germany around 1920.
After WWII the ability to mold plastics became widespread and more cost effective. This helped pave the way for innovations in the manufacturing of drip irrigation system components. At this time, Polyethylene (PE) tubing, also referred to as "micro tubing" or "spaghetti tubing", and early versions of emitters (drippers), became more common and was installed throughout the US and Europe. In Israel, Simcha Blass & Yeshayahu Blass were innovating in the area of emitter design. They created a method for water to flow through longer and wider passageways inside of the emitter. These “labyrinths” allowing for less clogging. The velocity of water moving through the labyrinth, and resulting turbulence, helps to slow it down, creating a "drip". In 1959 Kibbutz Harzerim partnered with Blass to form a company called Netafim, to further develop and test this concept. Netafim was then able to patent the first drip irrigation emitter. This development helped the technology of drip irrigation rapidly expand to Australia, North America, & South America in the late 60's.
Advantages & Benefits of Drip Irrigation
In this time of water and resource conservation, drip irrigation makes sense. It is generally less expensive to install than conventional subsurface PVC systems and uses much less water.
Water Conservation - Drip irrigation allows you an efficient watering by supplying water where it is needed - at the very roots of the plants. As a result, water is not wasted on leaves or soil. This significantly reduces the chances for evaporation and run off. Both are common with traditional irrigation systems where the water is often supplied at a rate greater than the soil can absorb it.
Reduce Weed Growth - When water is applied using a conventional sprinkler, everything gets wet. Since drip irrigation applies water to the root zone of your plants, the spaces in between plants remain dry. This greatly inhibits weed seed germination. If the soil remains dry, most seeds will not germinate. Landscape maintenance takes less time with drip irrigation.
Reduce Plant Stress - When plants get deep, consistent watering, they thrive. Inefficient, shallow watering can contribute to plant stress. Promote healthy growth and disease resistance plants in your garden with drip.
Extremely Flexible Application - You have many options with drip irrigation tubing, fittings, and emitters. It is a versatile watering system which can easily be installed on hillsides or flat terrains. Drip is the perfect irrigation method for oddly shaped landscapes and windy areas. Existing sprinkler systems can be retrofit with drip irrigation with very little effort.
Save Money - Once a drip irrigation system is installed, you will use less water to irrigate. If you are on a well, you will notice a severe drop in your pumping costs. You will no longer need to hand watering your garden. Automate you system with an irrigation controller and eliminate the need to pay someone to while are on vacation. With the reduction of plant disease and unwanted weeds, your gardening labor and maintenance costs will also drop considerably.
Last modified: September 21, 2011