Use drip. Drip irrigation that is.
When it comes to irrigation, drip is one of the most effective and efficient ways to water. It helps deliver water directly to the target, with very little waste. What a great new idea, right? Great idea? Most definetly! New? Not really.
Drip irrigation dates all the way back to 1866. In Afghanistan, researchers began experimenting with drip using clay pipe in irrigation and drainage systems. The theory of targeted watering was brought to the United States when, in 1920, water was successfully applied to plant root zones without raising the water table. Modern-day drip systems have become much more sophisticated and efficient but utilize many of the same, original principals.
A properly designed and operating drip irrigation system can save up to 80% in water usage, in comparison to other irrigation methods. This savings comes from the ability of drip to deliver water directly to the root zone, coupled with a very low evaporation rate. Basically, it allows you to put the water “where it’s needed” in the “amount needed”. Pretty cool stuff!
In addition to water savings, installing a drip system may also qualify for a tax credit or rebate on your water bill. In areas, such as the San Lorenzo Valley Water District , installing drip irrigation can earn homeowners up to $500.00 in water bill credit.
Another consideration is the ongoing water restrictions many of us are facing across the country. While many businesses and homeowners struggle to keep their landscape investments alive under ever-increasing water rationing, drip can be a very real solution. Numerous city governments are providing drip irrigation exemptions. The City of Plano , a large Texas suburb, allows drip watering during Stage 1, 2 and 3 of their drought contingency plan. You’re certainly not a drip if your landscape is alive and your neighbor’s is not!
While drip can be a serious tool in your sustainability toolkit, there are some special considerations. It is imperative that drip systems be properly designed. Since drip delivers its water payload directly to the plant root zone, the tubing must placed correctly within the landscape. Poorly designed or installed systems can result in too little or too much water being applied. Additionally, drip systems operate utilizing lower water pressures and require low or pressure regulating control valves. It’s also important to consider the water source and type of filtration which is needed. Even small impurities, within the water supply, can derail a drip system. Therefore, proper filtration is critical. Finally, as opposed to standard irrigation systems which operate in terms of “gallons per minute”, drip zones are measured in “gallons per hour”. System controls and programs must be able to address these increased application times.
The days of being able to just add more water to solve a landscape problem is over. Water is a finite resource and expensive resource. Drip systems can help make the most of this costly and precious commodity. I think Leonardo De Vinci may have said it best, “Water is the driving force of all nature”. Drip irrigation can help bring this force into focus.