Water is indispensable for the plants. It is a decisive factor not only when it comes to their growth, but also their condition. They frequently happen to be watered only for a while after they have been planted or during a dry spell. It is one of the most common mistakes. Watering belongs to the group of seemingly the simplest plant care procedures, but appearances can be deceptive, and so are they in this case. It turns out that watering can be carried out improperly. Drip irrigation systems come to the rescue, and they will work out well both in your home amateur garden and in case of large gardens, orchards, and even municipal parks.
Year by year, drip irrigation is becoming increasingly popular. It is known mainly as a solution adopted in greenhouses and polytunnels, but now it is more and more eagerly applied in open spaces. Available drip pipes are used to water edible and decorative plants growing in the fresh air.
Drip irrigation allows for providing plants with an amount of water that is suitable for their needs by dripping it directly onto the soil, which facilitates cultivation and increases the quality of crops. An automatic dosing system is effective because the water is distributed to plants slowly and evenly. Drip irrigation can be used thanks to drip pipes that — depending on the needs of plants — are extended either on the surface of the soil or below the soil surface. The latter option gives a possibility of adding fertilizers to the water.
A standard drip irrigation system is based on drip tapes, drip pipes or drip hoses. The individual types of watering systems differ both when it comes to their components and the method of installation. However, the way of applying water to the plant through the soil is very similar in all the cases. The way such a system operates is not complicated. Water is directed to the drippers through the tubing, and the pressure regulator reduces incoming water pressure.
The abovementioned ways of supplying water to plants is not the only form of drip irrigation. What is frequently used for young trees and bushes is the watering method based on a watering bag. This solution is usually introduced in public parks and green spaces, as well as in home gardens and orchards. With the aim of providing the plant with water, a watering bag is installed around the tree trunk or directly on the ground (depending on the type of watering bag used). Thanks to drains, water is gradually released to the plant’s root system from all the sides and for a long time, which ensures deep soil saturation. The amount of water a bag is filled with depends on its type. The method is not only practical, but it also does not blemish the landscape; thanks to its esthetic look, the bag becomes an original and integral element of the surroundings. Easy installation of watering bags and lack of the necessity to operate and service them are huge advantages of this irrigation method. It is enough to once in a while fill them up with water.
Providing plants with liquids by means of the drip irrigation method is widely used wherever plants need to be supplied with water. The system works perfectly for watering both edible and decorative plants. Such installations can be seen in greenhouses, polytunnels, kitchen gardens, along patches and in case of pot plants on terraces and balconies. As for decorative and garden plants, drip irrigation is used to water hedges, various flower beds, rockeries and when it is necessary to supply water to individual plants. The drip irrigation method is not suitable for watering lawns and areas with densely growing greenery. Thanks to watering bags, it is possible to effectively irrigate bushes and trees.
Before investing in an irrigation system, it is advisable to plan it well. Conducting measurements and the evaluation of the terrain will be necessary. This will help choose the optimal devices that the watering system consists of. It is also worth familiarizing with the characteristics of the species you own and their water requirements. What’s more, the purchase of the system needs to be considered. You can equip yourself with individual units or ready-made sets, you can also install the system by yourself or hire specialists.
It is no coincidence that the drip irrigation method is so popular. It is connected with a range of unquestionable benefits. The most important ones include:
This system allows for providing the plant with a small amount of water, but in a continuous way, thanks to which the root system can effectively benefit from the irrigation. When water is supplied with the use of a watering can or a garden hose, an excessive amount of water is applied at one go, plus, watering is repeated no sooner than after over a dozen of hours or even several days! Additionally, sprinklers direct the stream of water on the leaves and stem, which increases the risk of various diseases.
The process of drip irrigation, especially in case of large crops, can be automatically steered, which allows for precise adjusting the amount of water to the needs and requirements of particular species. Thanks to the automatization of the process, you can save time, because drip irrigation does not need to involve the user.
Drip irrigation has a positive influence on plants, not only due to watering itself. The system makes it possible to supply water regardless of the weather conditions. Moreover, the above ground parts of the plant are not wetted, which protects them from sunburns as well as from fungus infections and diseases.
Adopting the automatic irrigation system allows you, to a considerable degree, to save water. Firstly, water is distributed directly to the root system instead of being scattered on the surrounding space as it happens in case of traditional forms of dosing. Secondly, adjusting the amount of water to the plant’s needs prevents overflowing. It is calculated that the said irrigation system contributes to saving up to 70% of water.
This method has drawbacks as well. The most serious one for the investor is the price of the irrigation system. The more plants you are supposed to water, the greater the expenses. The costs also increase when you choose high-quality equipment. An amateur installation designed for small farms costs a few hundred zloties. The price of professional systems, in turn, ranges from a few thousand to over a dozen of thousand zloties. It is important to remember that such a system is more than a set of tubes; there are also the accessories like a filter or pressure regulator and other components that constitute the ultimate price you need to pay for the drip lines.
Maintenance is another issue (in order to maintain the irrigation process, it is vital to check whether the tubes are not clogged). Drip irrigation is used mainly in case of perennial plants, which also can be considered to be a disadvantage of the system. While watering bags for trees can be easily installed and dismantled, drip lines, drip hoses and drip tapes are long, which makes them less convenient to be moved due to their proneness to damage. As watering bags can be easily moved and installed in any given place, they do not generate this kind of problems.
Drip irrigation is a perfect solution for both amateur and large scale farming. Additionally, thanks to using special watering bags, we can constantly irrigate trees and bushes that grow in demanding urban areas, i.e. places where plants need exceptional care.
This innovative solution is being adopted by an increasing number of Polish towns and cities, in which local authorities are aware of the need to keep their “green lungs” in good condition. Undoubtedly, it is the system that brings many benefits both for plants and for the users, which is why its popularity is growing. It helps save water and time (and by this also the money), therefore, every owner of a garden or a kitchen garden, as well as every professional farmer ought to choose this irrigation system.