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Hydrate Your Plants: A Guide to Irrigation Systems

While the greater part of the country suffers from the worst drought in recent history, it is more important than ever to consider alternatives to traditional irrigation. There are many advanced technologies in irrigation available to more efficiently and effectively deliver water to plants. Whether you are a greenhouse or field grower, we recommend three main types of irrigation systems: drip tape systems, dripper systems and sprinkler systems.Drip Irrigation System

WHAT IS A DRIP TAPE SYSTEM?
A drip tape system is a type of irrigation in which polyethylene tubing with emission holes built in every 12” is placed along a row of crops to water them on a schedule determined by you. Like it says in the name, these systems let out drops of water directly to plants’ roots instead of a steady stream like a hose or sprinkler.

Drip Tape System in High TunnelWHEN SHOULD I USE A DRIP TAPE SYSTEM?
If you are planning on letting your plants grow in one place all the way from germination to harvest, drip tape systems are for you. Drip tape systems can be used when growing row crops, but should only be used in situations where at least one emitter can be used for every plant.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING A DRIP TAPE SYSTEM?
Drip tape systems are an eco-friendly irrigation option because of the water they conserve. Drip tape systems only provide plants with as much water as they truly need, while other types of irrigation may miss plants roots, wasting water. You should expect uniform, high-quality crops because each and every plant is receiving the same amount of water with drip irrigation.

Drip tape systems can also accurately deliver herbicides and pesticides to plants, stopping disease and insects in their tracks. Besides these helpful growing aids, drip tape can get fertilizer to your plants when they need it most. This precise and efficient method of delivering water and nutrients to plants will result in faster growth rates and earlier harvests, meaning you can bring your crops to market, or your table, even earlier.

Dripper irrigation systemWHAT IS A DRIPPER SYSTEM?
A dripper system is much like a drip tape system because it distributes droplets of water to the roots of plants on a schedule set by the grower. The difference between the two systems is that drip tape has the emitter holes built in, while dripper systems are normally customized with different drippers available for different purposes. Pick and choose based on your plants’ needs.

WHEN SHOULD I USE A DRIPPER SYSTEM?
If you are growing tree, vine, permanent row crops or in hanging baskets, a dripper system is the perfect choice. You can also use a dripper system if you are growing in a greenhouse or for a nursery. No matter what application you are using this system for, make sure you have the appropriate drippers so that your seedlings develop into strong, healthy crops. By using these dripper systems with manifolds, field irrigation becomes an easy task.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING A DRIPPER SYSTEM?
Dripper systems allow you to uniformly and efficiently water potted plants, row crops and nursery and greenhouse plants. Like drip tape systems, this setup will also apply fertilizer and pesticides easily, while saving water. You should see a smaller water bill, with higher quality crops.

Sprinkler irrigation systemWHAT IS A SPRINKLER SYSTEM?
Sprinkler systems, much like the ones you typically see on a football field or neighbor’s lawn, allow you to water a very large area at once. These systems give you more control over your crops because you can decide where to water and when to do it. Sprinklers can be used by themselves or in a circuit, depending on the size of the area you are looking to water.

WHERE CAN YOU USE A SPRINKLER SYSTEM?
Sprinklers can be installed inside a greenhouse or high tunnel, but are also great for irrigating fields, gardens and yards. Sprinkler systems can be customized to water only a few crops with one sprinkler head, or to water entire fields with a series of sprinklers.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING A SPRINKLER SYSTEM?
Sprinkler systems are the simplest type of irrigation system you can use for your crops. They come in a variety of sizes at an affordable price, making them ideal for hobby growers who aren’t looking to design an entire drip system, but rather just want to avoid holding the hose a few times a day.

Regardless of what system you choose, all irrigation systems will save you time and labor no matter what size growing operation you are running. Irrigation systems allow you to save water and provide your crops with the hydration they need to grow into highly marketable plants.

Do you have an irrigation system in your garden or greenhouse? How has it changed your growing experience?

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