Drip Irrigation - Why You Should Ditch the Sprinkler
Drip irrigation is a method of watering plants where water is slowly delivered to the roots of plants through a network of tubes or emitters. This method of watering is preferred over overhead watering for a number of reasons.
While overhead irrigation from sprinklers is less expensive to set up, one of the main advantages of drip irrigation is that it is much more efficient than overhead watering. Because the water is delivered directly to the roots of the plants, very little water is lost to evaporation or runoff. This means that less water is needed to properly hydrate the plants, which is especially important in areas where water is scarce or where water restrictions are in place.
Overhead irrigation is an incredible source of wasted water. If we are watering in the hot sun, as much as 50% of this water will be lost to evaporation.
Another advantage of drip irrigation is that it can help to prevent plant diseases. When plants are watered from above, the leaves, flowers, and stems of the plants become wet, which provides an ideal environment for the growth of fungi and other plant diseases. Here on the flower farm, it is also important for us to keep the plants dry because water can cause petals to discolour, thereby ruining the flower. When water droplets land from overhead irrigation and hit the soil, they cause soil to bounce back up at the plants. This not only makes the plants dirty but it also causes soil borne fungus to hit the plants. By delivering water directly to the roots, drip irrigation helps to keep the leaves and stems of plants dry, which reduces the risk of disease.
At this point you might be thinking, “Wait. Rain comes from the sky, so wouldn’t overhead irrigation be considered natural?”
Yes, rain is indeed overhead irrigation. However, rain causes all of the above problems and areas with consistent rain (coastal weather) have to continuously deal with all of the above issues. A rain once a week isn’t too much of a cause for concern for diseases, but when the sun doesn’t come out in between to dry up the rain on the plants or dry the soil surface, then the issues start to add up and become more prominent.
Overhead irrigation every day or every couple of days exacerbates these problems. Keeping the foliage and flowers dry on plants is critical for plant health.
Drip irrigation can also be more convenient for gardeners than overhead watering. Because the water is delivered directly to the plants, there is no need to move a hose or watering can around the garden. This can save time and effort, and make it easier for gardeners to keep their plants properly hydrated.
In addition to its efficiency and convenience, drip irrigation can also help to improve the overall health and appearance of plants. Because the water is delivered directly to the roots, plants are able to absorb more nutrients from the soil. This can lead to healthier, more vigorous plants that are better able to withstand drought, pests, and other challenges.
Overall, drip irrigation is a superior method of watering plants compared to overhead watering. It is more efficient, convenient, and beneficial for the health of plants, making it the preferred method for many gardeners and farmers, ourselves included. We have 30,000′ of drip line irrigation in our flower field!