Australia recorded the sixth driest year, with the national rainfall falling below average in 2019-20. About 70% of the water consumption is attributed to agriculture, which is about 5.7 million megalitres, about 90% of which goes mostly for irrigation. In the age of water scarcity and climate change, where conservation is the need of the hour, micro-irrigation is exceptionally beneficial in increasing crop yield with minimal water, fertiliser and labour. This makes it one of the most popular methods of commercial and residential farming today.
Micro or drip irrigation is a form of watering the crops in a controlled manner, allowing them to flow through a vast network of pipe systems directly to the plants with minimal wastage. This method has become the most valued innovation of modern agriculture since the invention of sprinklers in the 1930s. One of the most used forms is micro-spray heads to small water areas of the cultivating land instead of dripping which is preferable for growing vine crops and trees with wider root zones. Here are some more types.
Types of Micro-irrigation Systems
1) Drip System
This is one of the oldest forms of irrigating crops where emitters are used to deliver the water to the plants’ roots directly. The emitters are made of a network of twisters, vents and convoluted pipes through which the controlled water passes and reaches the crops. They can either be placed on the ground or deep in the soil. This allows for smooth water movement at the desired pace conserving water whilst providing enough for the plants to grow.
2) Sprinkler and Spray System
Here, irrigating the crops happens in a form very similar to how rainfall works. Water is sprinkled onto the produce across the crop yield using high-pressure spray guns or sprinklers to reach the maximum area possible. When controlled well, they provide the exact amount of water required by the plants and ensure optimal crop yield. Similar to sprinklers, the spray system has jet sprays delivering water to vast areas of the cultivating land. The direction and the force of the jet can be controlled to water the crops in lands of any size.
3) Subsurface System
The system of tubes and pipes for this watering system connects underground, hidden from the soil delivering water to all the roots of the plans with no wastage at all. This is highly beneficial for eliminating stagnating water and preventing weeds and diseases among crops. Moreover, a well-designed system can ensure optimal efficiency in using water and fertiliser to yield better crops.
4) Bubbler System
This system is highly useful for crops that require large amounts of water in a short period as they allow water through small fountains and streams, dissipating at about 230 litres per hour.
Key Points to Note While Using Irrigation System
- It is important to ensure that the crops are planted in the right season, like spring or fall, in a well-hydrated landscape that suits it, with sufficient mulch around, and save the grass for functional areas.
- Farmers must ensure to install their irrigation systems at optimal capacity with smart controls by meeting the national code requirements looking for good quality products that provide well-designed systems using IRRICAD at a reasonable price. They must inspect them regularly for signs of maintenance or replacement.
- While watering the crops, they must ensure that they water the land in zones by considering the soil type in short, frequent periods and wasting minimal water.