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Drip and Trickle Irrigation System

Trickle irrigation, sometimes referred to as drip irrigation, is a low-pressure irrigation method that uses such systems that place water slowly and directly in the root zone of the desired plant, increasing the efficiency of the water applied.
Trickle irrigation can reduce water usage by 30 to 70 percent compared to more traditional means of irrigation, such as overhead sprinklers or hand watering . 
  • Drip and Trickle Irrigation was used in Egypt as early as in 300 B.C.
  •  But to the modern world “Drip irrigation”, was first introduced in Germany in the 1860s, but it did not gain widespread popularity until it was introduced in England in the 1940s. The drip/trickle irrigation technology existing today flourished in the 1960s.
  • Drip irrigation was only implemented over 56,000 hectares worldwide during the 1970s. Over the next thirty years, this had grown to almost 2.0 million hectares. Perhaps in Pakistan, the farming community may not be ready for this concept right now. In the next twenty years, however, with the farmer increasingly progressive and the consistent lack of optimum water resources, drip irrigation in the country may well be a reality. 

Drip, or micro-irrigation, technology uses a network of plastic pipes to carry a low flow of water under low pressure to plants. Water is applied much more slowly than with sprinkler irrigation system. Drip irrigation exceeds 90 percent efficiency whereas sprinkler systems are 50 to 70 percent efficient. If systems are set to water excessively, any system including drip can waste water. Low volume application of water to plant roots maintains a desirable balance of air and water in the soil. Plants grow better with this favorable air-water balance and even soil moisture. Sprinkler irrigation results in a greater wet-to-dry fluctuation in the soil and may not produce optimal growth results. Slopes are inefficient to irrigate because gravity pulls water downhill, causing runoff and water waste. The slow rate of water applied through drip irrigation is more likely to soak in before it runs off .
Components of a Drip Irrigation System
  • Water Source
  • Pumping System 
  • Distribution System 
  • Filtration System 
  • Injection Units-Chemicals/Fertilizer 
  • Systems Controls 
  • Zone Controls 
  • In-field Delivery System 
  • Miscellaneous

Advantages of Drip Irrigation System
  • Water use is reduced. Plants need the same amount of water no matter what the delivery method. Trickle irrigation places the water at the roots, where plants can use it best.
  • Precise application of nutrients is possible using drip irrigation. Fertilizer costs and nitrate losses can be reduced. Nutrient applications can be better timed to meet plants' needs. 
  • Fewer weeds germinate. Water is directed to the crop, leaving the area between the rows dry, so weed seeds located there are less likely to germinate. 
  • Fewer leaf diseases occur. Wet leaves encourage fungal and bacterial plant diseases. Trickle irrigation does not wet leaves.
  • Soil structure is not damaged from water falling on bare soil. 
  • Insecticide and fungicide use is reduced. Trickle irrigation does not wash pesticides from the foliage.
  • Give more and better output, because these systems maintain the soil moisture at a high enough level to avoid putting plants under water stress; 
  • Use problematic soils and waters. 
  • Require no land leveling. 
  • Irrigate more land with less water.  
  • Irrigate with very high efficiency.
  • Undulating terrains, sandy, hilly lands can also be brought under productive cultivation.
  • Uniform application of water in drip irrigation achieves high water efficiency.
  • Watering only the roots of your plants with drip irrigation cuts down on water-borne pests and fungal diseases that spread by water movement.
  • Using drip irrigation below ground eliminates the potential risk of disease caused by bacteria and viruses in reclaimed water.
  • In many instances, a totally new and more favourable root zone environment is created and a relatively constant soil moisture level is maintained.
  • Fertilizer use efficiency may increase by 30%
  • Soluble fertilizer and chemicals can be given through the drip irrigation system and delivered to the root zone.

 Disadvantages of Drip Irrigation System
  • Time is required for initial planning and installation.
  • It is more expensive than most sprinkler systems. 
  • The tiny emission holes can become clogged with soil particles, algae or mineral particles. 
  • Insects and rodents may damage the trickle line emitters.
  • The initial investment costs are rather high. 
  • Declogging is difficult and time consuming. 
  • Salinity is higher on the soil surface and between two drippers. 
  • These systems wet only a part of the plant root where shrinkages and output losses may occur with insufficient water or nutrients.
  • Strong winds may fell large trees. 
  • These systems require a well-trained workforce; and 
  • Dust problems may arise in dry strips.
More information on drip irrigation system

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