Choosing the right drip tape emitter spacing can be more of an art than a science. This is because of the many variables that exist in each farming application, including tape placement, soil type, crop, plant population, soil and water salinity, tape quality and cost, etc. Fortunately, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s recent Drip and Micro Irrigation Design and Management Manual, published by the Irrigation Training and Research Center (ITRC) in 2007, provides a great deal of guidance for this important decision. In particular, the new manual discusses how closely spaced drip tape emitters can enhance salt management for seed germination, leach salts in permanent crops, and dilute soil salinity for salt sensitive crops. In addition, the manual highlights some of the agronomic and economic disadvantages of using widely spaced emitters.
Here are some of the benefits of closely spaced emitters:
- Enhance salt management for seed germination
- Leach salts in permanent crops
- Dilute soil salinity for salt sensitive crops
- Achieve a more continuous soil wetting pattern on many soil types
- Manipulate the wetting pattern as desired without raising pressures or requiring thicker mil tapes on wider spaced emitters