Drip Irrigation 101: A Comprehensive Guide for Effective Water Delivery

 Min read
December 3, 2023

Drip irrigation has become much more popular in recent years as more people are concerned with water conservation. Unlike traditional methods that involve sprinkler systems or flood irrigation, drip irrigation takes water straight to the roots of plants. As a result, water is conserved and efficiency is maximized. We’ll spend some time here diving into the world of drip irrigation, including its components, benefits, installation, and maintenance. Vu-Flow recently introduced a new drip irrigation product that can be incorporated into drip irrigation systems.

To begin with, drip irrigation, which is also called trickle irrigation, is a method that delivers water slowly and straight to the base of plants. A network of tubes, pipes, and emitters facilitates this process. As alluded to above, this approach minimizes water evaporation, runoff, as well as surface moisture, which makes it an efficient way to irrigate plants. According to a piece from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a drip system can save as much as 80% of the water normally used in other irrigation systems.

While there are multiple ways to do anything, a typical drip irrigation system will be made up of the same five components. Naturally, the first component is going to be a water source. The water source can come from different places such as a well, a municipal water supply, or a water tank.

The second component of a drip irrigation system is a filter. A filter is important for the removal of both debris and sediments from whatever water supply you would be pulling from as this will help prevent the clogging of emitters. Depending on where you look or who you talk to, you may find slightly different answers, but when it comes to what mesh size to select for a drip irrigation filter, most people will agree that you want at least 120 mesh.

Another component of a drip irrigation system is a pressure regulator. A pressure regulator, which is used in a variety of plumbing-related applications, is designed to maintain a consistent water pressure within a system. This ultimately helps in preventing damage to pipes and emitters, which is especially important in drip irrigation.

Tubing is a fourth component of drip irrigation. The tubing is responsible for distributing water from the source down to the emitters. Depending on where you live and where your system is set up, it could be beneficial to select UV-resistant tubing as a way to prevent degradation from sunlight exposure.

The final component we’ll look at is emitters. The emitters are what control the flow of water to the plants. There are numerous types of emitters available, including drip stakes, drip tubing, and drip emitters.

Along with the water efficiency aspect of drip irrigation, there are several other advantages to implementing this type of system. One of those advantages is fertilizer efficiency. The University of Florida IFAS Extension provides more specific details into this, but drip irrigation allows for precise fertilization because nutrients can be added to the system. This results in improved plant health, as well as reduced fertilizer waste.

Another advantage of drip irrigation is that you can more easily control weeds. Since with drip irrigation water is only delivered to the base of the plants, weeds are less likely to grow. This reduces the need for using herbicides.

A third additional advantage of implementing a drip irrigation system is it helps minimize the spread of disease. The University of Rhode Island points out that the minimal water contact with leaves and stems with drip irrigation helps to prevent disease in the plants.

With all of this said, the only way to have an effective drip irrigation system that does the above things is to install and maintain it properly. You first need to consider the layout and design. If you don’t plan, there’s a good chance the system you put together will have some flaws. A well-designed layout is essential for ensuring uniform water distribution in drip irrigation.

Once you have your system up and running, you’ll want to make sure you perform regular inspections. Due to the variety of components making up a system, frequent checks of the emitters, filters, and tubing are recommended. The sooner that problems are identified, the quicker they can get fixed instead of leading to bigger issues down the road.

Depending on where you live, winterization of the system would be a good idea. This may not be as important in warmer places, but in colder climates, winterizing the system can be necessary to prevent damage from freezing temperatures. An article on gardeningknowhow.com offers specifics on how drip irrigation systems can be winterized successfully.

A fourth thing you’ll want to remember to do regularly is clean out any filters. While filters are great for removing debris and sediment from a system, they won’t do the system altogether a lot of good if they get blocked up. If you notice a significant loss of water pressure on the outlet side of a filter, it’s most likely time to clean it out.

Drip irrigation has become a game-changer in agriculture over recent years, offering both water and resource-efficient solutions for growing healthy plants. There are many points to consider if you plan on putting together a drip irrigation system, and one of the areas we highlighted is implementing filters. The newest item added to the Vu-Flow product line is a Y-Strainer, which is an ideal filter to incorporate into drip irrigation.

Y-Strainers can be used in household, agricultural, and municipal irrigation systems with low flow rates. These filters have a compact build, which makes them great for installing in small spaces. They also come with either screen or disc inserts, which Vu-Flow offers in 150 and 120 mesh. Y-Strainers can be purchased in several different inlet/outlet sizes as well, including ¾", 1”, and 1-½", and the bodies of the filters are chemical resistant. If you purchase the screen version of a Y-Strainer from Vu-Flow, you’ll have the option to get it with a purge valve, making it easier to flush out and keep the filter clean.

If you have plans to build a drip irrigation system and are looking to add a filtration component, Vu-Flow has options to help you out. Give us a call at 1-800-833-5171 to speak to a customer service representative and learn more.

Source Notes: All information in this article relating to how much water a drip irrigation system can save came from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Information regarding fertilizer efficiency in drip irrigation came from the University of Florida IFAS Extension. All information relating to how drip irrigation helps minimize the spread of disease came from The University of Rhode Island. Information regarding winterizing a drip irrigation system came from gardeningknowhow.com.