any systems are now available to provide a slow, constant flow of water to plants. Trickle or drip systems have many advantages including:

  • Economy of Water Use: Trickle systems use to 1/3 as much water as sprinkler irrigation.

  • Ease of Operation: Once the system is installed, it is merely a matter of opening valves.

  • Fewer Foliage Diseases: The foliage remains dry since the water is delivered to the root zone of the plant only. Fungal diseases prosper when foliage is kept wet.

  • Less Fertilizer: There is less runoff and fertilizers may be applied to the immediate area adjacent to the row. They may also be applied directly through the irrigation system.

  • Less Insecticide and Fungicide Use: Pesticides are not washed from the foliage as they are with overhead systems.

  • Minimal Contamination of Ground Water: With limited water volumes being applied, there is less leaching of fertilizers into ground waters.

There are also a few disadvantages to drip or trickle irrigation including:

  • Cost: The initial cost of the equipment is generally more expensive than sprinkler systems.

  • Maintenance: The small holes in the emitters may become clogged over time. Some systems must be drained and "blown out" with an air compressor each fall to prevent freezing. Insects and rodents may damage trickle line emitters.

Overall, the pros outweigh the cons for most trickle or drip irrigation systems. Consider them for use in the home landscape or garden to produce healthier, stress free plants.

Note: We have provided some general information and observations on this topic aimed at the home gardener. Before you take any serious action in your landscape, check with your state's land grant university's Cooperative Extension Service for the most current, appropriate, localized recommendations.


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