Drip Irrigation Best Practices: Optimize Your Irrigation in 5 Easy Steps

Smart Irrigation Month

July is Smart Irrigation Month, and to help promote drip irrigation best practices in ag and farming, we put together this small list of ways you can optimize your irrigation system.

Don’t make the mistake of wasting irrigation water. Do your homework and learn about crop water requirement, the maximum precipitation rates of soils, soil water holding capacities, irrigation system application rates and irrigation system uniformities. Put it all together in an irrigation schedule that will maximize profitability and optimize resource use. And finally, don’t go it alone. Consult with a specialist to help with this sometimes complicated topic – there are many ready and willing to help, if you are only willing to ask!

The Do’s & Don’ts of Drip Irrigation

1.  DON’T:  Don’t apply water too fast

DO:  Match the irrigation system’s application rate with the soil’s ability to accept the water. Micro-irrigation systems have low precipitation rates and are a good way to avoid runoff.

2.  DON’T:  Don’t apply water for too long.

DO:  Match the irrigation event duration with the soil’s ability to hold the amount of water applied. Automate valve operation if labor availability or reliability is an issue.

3.  DON’T:  Don’t settle for poor irrigation system performance.

DO:  Ensure that irrigation application uniformity is at least 85%. If a retrofit or upgrade is necessary, the investment will likely be offset by savings/increased income.

4.  DON’T:  Don’t schedule irrigations according to an arbitrary calendar interval.

DO:  Schedule irrigations when available water has been depleted and needs to be replenished. Plant Water Requirement changes continually with the weather and stage of crop growth– irrigation schedules must be adjusted constantly.

5.  DON’T:  Don’t go it alone!

DO:  Seek guidance from your local irrigation dealer, government agency, consultant or association. Plant/soil/water relationships are complex and deserve a specialist!

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15 Responses to Drip Irrigation Best Practices: Optimize Your Irrigation in 5 Easy Steps

  1. I have recently installed an irrigation system and I wanted to make sure that I did what I need to to keep it working properly. I didn’t realize the applying water too fast could damage the system, but I can see now how this would cause problems. There are a lot of factors to keep in mind when you are maintaining a system like this! Thank you for such an informative and helpful article!

  2. Delores Lyon says:

    Thanks for sharing these do’s and don’ts of drip irrigation. I have actually been thinking of implementing a drip irrigation system into my landscape because of the water it saves, but I want to be sure I do it right. It is so interesting that the speed with which you apply the water can affect the soil’s ability to take in the water. I’ll definitely be sure to remember that as soon as I get a system!

  3. Thanks for the tips! You made a really good point about finding out the correct amount of water that you soil can hold. There have been a few times when I accidentally watered my plants a bit too much and there was quite a bit of runoff as a result. Now that I’m more aware of the importance of allowing my soil to hold the right amount of water, I’ll take some time to find out exactly how much water I should be using.

  4. Drew says:

    Great advice for choosing the right irrigation system for your yard. Every yard is different so be sure you won’t be overloaded on water for your soil type like you said and you should be okay. Thanks for the advice!

  5. These are some great things to be aware of with watering practices. I like your tip about making sure you don’t water for too long. Knowing your soil and how long it holds water can make a big difference. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Jason Strong says:

    My dad and I are trying to lay out a irrigation system in my grandmas backyard. We are stuck on a couple of points though and can’t seem to figure it out. This article has some good points that I think can help us figure this out.

  7. Jack Moore says:

    Wow, these are some really helpful tips on setting up a successful irrigation system. I had never thought about making sure to match the drip rate with the soils rate of acceptance of water, but that makes perfect sense. I’ll have to do some more reading and see if I can find some more information on the target application rate for my area/climate/soil type. Thanks so much for writing!

  8. Thank you for all of your great insight about properly irrigating your grass. Specifically, you talk about how you should never settle for a poor irrigation system, and I agree. When the system you’re using isn’t performing at its optimal level, it could be costing you more money. So, to make sure that you’re watering your yard in the best possible way and in the most efficient way, making sure your system is up to par and working properly will be your best option. Thank you for sharing!

  9. Jason Strong says:

    My dad is going to try drip irrigation but wants to learn more about it before he starts. I didn’t understand it much either, so I figured that this would be a good chance to get a better idea of what it is. This article has some great points that I think can help us both understand this better.

  10. Kyler Brown says:

    Last Spring I didn’t water my grass well enough during the Spring, and several parts of the yard died. I’m glad that I read these tips, and this will help me to do a better job this year. I like the advice to not settle for poor irrigation system performance. I may have to have someone come out and check on mine to make sure it is performing properly. Thanks for sharing this.

  11. Warren Knegt says:

    Yes definately, these are the best practices to optimize drip irrigation. Thanks for sharing such an informative article. Keep it up..!!

  12. Alex Trodder says:

    We had a backyard vegetable and fruit garden growing up. We had a drip irrigation system to help conserve water. You make a great point to ensure that your drip irrigation system uniformly waters you garden or landscape. If you don’t have an even distribution of water, some plants will drown while others wither. Thanks for your tips.

  13. It is cool that you can get better results by using less water at times. It makes sense that applying too much water too fast would result in runoff and other problems. I like that you mention not to use arbitrary calendar intervals. Thanks for the ideas!

  14. Drew says:

    Great list of do’s and don’ts for water irrigation. Over watering is probably the most common problem I see. Short watering sessions a few times a week is the healthiest option for your grass. Thanks so much for sharing!

  15. Charles Kemp says:

    Irrigation is really important for the crops and it can be really difficult to control if you don’t know what you are doing. Is this why a lot of people get the drip irrigation. I like that you mention not to go it alone. Irrigation is not a one man job.

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