Agriculture

Drip Irrigation

Any crop. Any topography. Any climate. Any soil. Anywhere.

Drip irrigation systems are transforming the lives of millions of farmers around the world enabling higher yields while saving on water, fertilizer and energy.

What is drip irrigation?

Drip irrigation is widely recognized as the most efficient way to deliver water and nutrients to growing crops. It can help reduce water use and runoff dramatically, which is beneficial for farmers and the planet while also substantially increasing crop yields and quality. In fact, this irrigation has been shown to increase water efficiency by 70% and even cut energy costs in half.

Drip systems apply water and nutrients directly to a plant’s root zone frequently but in small doses to ensure optimal growing conditions that produce high-quality yields. This is achieved using systems of pipes called “driplines” that have small units that we like to refer to as “drippers,” which emit drops containing water and nutrients.

These driplines are usually installed on the surface or subsurface. A surface irrigation system is usually temporary and must be replaced on a yearly basis. They rely on close emitter spacing of between 12 and 18 inches, and the dripline itself is 1 to 6 inches below the surface. A subsurface irrigation system is permanent and has 20 to 27-inch emitter spacing and a dripline 8 to 14 inches below the surface. 

By delivering water and nutrients directly to the plant’s root zone, this irrigation significantly reduces water runoff, evaporation loss, and drift, which are three of the most common inefficiencies of other irrigation systems.

In addition to farming and agriculture, this kind of irrigation also has uses in landscaping and turf, greenhouses and nurseries, wastewater, mining, and recycling. As the leader in drip systems and technology for over 40 years, Netafim has worked with a wide variety of industries to create applications specific to their operations. This is why our customers trust us to create a tailor-made system that supports the continuous growth of their crops and businesses.

How does it work?

Water and nutrients are delivered across the field in pipes called ‘driplines’ featuring small 'emitters'. Each emitter puts out drops of water and fertilizers, resulting in the uniform application of water and nutrients directly to each plant's root zone, across an entire field.

Running along the dripline, the drippers will be spaced according to your crop’s unique requirements. Other factors that determine dripper spacing include the width and depth-wetting ratio of the soil and the distance between individual plants. Such a tailor-made array is what makes drip irrigation so much more efficient and controlled than other types of watering systems.

The dripping system is connected to a water source via feeder hoses, and once they are installed, the drippers will release water and nutrients into the ground in a slow and steady fashion. Another design consists of a feeder hose with drippers, and this so-called “trickle hose” doesn’t have the rows of independent emitters. Either way, moisture levels are maintained at an optimal range, which improves plant quality and quantity.

Why do farmers prefer drip system?

Farmers using drip systems can consistently produce higher yields while also saving on the costs of water, energy, and fertilizer. This delivers a greater return on investment (ROI) when compared to other irrigation methods, and means farmers won’t have to be dependent on weather, which offers greater stability and lower risk.

The top benefits that farmers can receive include the following:

  • Higher consistent quality yields
  • Huge water savings: no evaporation, no runoff, no waste
  • 100% land utilization, uniformly in any topography and soil type
  • Energy savings: irrigation watering system works on low-pressure
  • Efficient use of fertilizer and crop protection, with no leaching
  • Less dependency on weather, greater stability, and lower risks
  • As a semi-automated or fully-automated system, drip irrigation can reduce labor and labor costs
  • Since there is minimal water contact with stems, leaves, and fruit, problems with fungal diseases are also eliminated or drastically reduced
  • The rows between plants remain dry, and this prevents weed growth
  • Boosts effective farming on uneven ground and nutrient-poor soil
  • Drip irrigation is a gentle watering system and doesn’t cause soil erosion
  • Works with low pressure and doesn't require pressure tanks like most overhead systems
  • Since there is no standing water, there’s no need for lot leveling and drainage
  • Water and nutrient dispersal can be tailored to a specific crop

"Drip irrigation is the key to growing more with less water, using technology and innovation to boost efficiency in sustainable agriculture."

Mike Hemman, President & CEO

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Why do plants prefer drip irrigation?

Just like people, plants prefer their water and nutrients in a balanced way, in small doses, directly to their roots. Nobody wants to eat a month's worth of food in one day. In a similar fashion, overwatering and overfeeding plants (or even under-providing water and nutrients) can have detrimental effects on the health of a crop and, ultimately, the farmer’s profits.

With this micro irrigation system, plants can uptake water and nutrients in smaller doses more frequently, ensuring optimal growing conditions that produce the highest yields possible. These doses can be uniquely tailored to the plant’s development needs to ensure that they stay healthy at every stage of their growth.

This type of irrigation also eliminates the risk of wet foliage that can lead to fungal disease, and it also provides good soil aeration. At the end of the day, it is quite easy to see why even the most difficult crops often respond well to this type of irrigation. The plants grow in optimal conditions in a stress-free manner, and this allows them to flourish from the seedling stage to maturity when they produce top-tier produce that is robust, healthy, and ready for the market.

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subsurface irrigation

Why the world needs drip systems?

By 2050, there’ll be 10 billion people living on our planet and 20% less arable land per person to grow enough food. Include increasing water scarcity, and it’s clear why we need a way to increase agricultural productivity and resource efficiency. This is where the drip watering system comes in, changing the economics of global agriculture by allowing farmers to produce more crops per acre with less water.

A drip system can increase resource efficiency and agricultural productivity – two things that will be very important to the world as the population continues to grow and fewer resources may become available. It also reduces the impact climate change will have on food production, prevents fertilizer from contaminating rivers and groundwater, and can be used to change the economics of rural communities so there is less poverty and hunger.

Drip systems will be most beneficial in areas where resources are scarce or there is a lack of viable farmland that can produce high-value crops. At Netafim USA, we see precision irrigation technology as a global solution to not only hunger but also economic growth in underprivileged areas of the world.

To help farmers and communities succeed, we specialize in utilizing any soil type and topography, regardless of a region’s climate or the type of crop involved. Why should you trust us? Netafim USA is not only the world’s leading precision irrigation technology company that provides various large industries with smart irrigation systems, but we also value the individual and smaller businesses. Regardless of the size of your setup, Netafirm USA is a versatile partner that can support your agricultural needs with precision irrigation.

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