|Save water using drip irrigation|
|Thursday, 28 April 2011 08:48|
Brought to you by Scotiabank
Gardeners who want to lighten their impact on the environment — or just save money — may want to consider installing a drip irrigation system.
Drip irrigation has many advantages over other forms of watering, including less wasted water, lower costs and less risk to your precious plants. Overhead watering can leave standing water on the foliage and flowers, and that extra moisture can be an invitation to disease for many garden plants.
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.
The now readily available technology was first used in the 1960s by farmers who discovered that by using drip irrigation they could increase yields while lowering water use. Drip irrigation exceeds 90-percent efficiency, whereas sprinkler systems are 50-70-percent efficient.
Conventional irrigation systems rate sprinklers and bubblers in gallons per minute (GPM). Drip irrigation flow rates are in gallons per hour (GPH) because of the low flow from each emitter.
For example, a lawn sprinkler may be rated at 1-3 GPM, or 60-180 GPH. Drip emitters are usually rated at 1-4 GPH, and a microsprinkler might be rated at 5-45 GPH.
With conventional watering systems, water may be lost through water runoff and evaporation, may blown away by wind or wasted on non-growth areas. Using drip irrigation, water is absorbed slowly into the soil, directly into the root zone, and no water is wasted on non-growth areas.
By placing the drip emitters just at the plants’ root zone, you can use much less water and with better efficiency. This irrigation method allows the water to move deeper into the soil, thus encouraging deeper root growth. The low flow of water from the drip emitters enables the watering of large area using a single water source.
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.
Water is applied frequently at low flow rates with the goal of applying only the water plants need. Sprinkler irrigation results in a greater wet-to-dry fluctuation in the soil and may not produce optimal growth results.
If you are like many gardeners, you grow many different plants and flowers in the same plot of land, and each variety of plant and flower may have different watering needs. Some plants will require a lot of water, while others will need less water. A drip-irrigation system allows you to choose just the right fittings for each part of the garden plot to ensure each plant and flower you grow gets just the right amount of water it needs.
In the Turks and Caicos Islands, where fresh water is expensive and land is very dry, a drip irrigation system can offer you a greener garden without relieving you of too much green from your wallet.
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