The practice of designing and adapting drip irrigation systems

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Drip irrigation is a method of frequent, slow application of water to the crop through physical devices, called emitters, at selected points along water delivery lines. Drip irrigation is based on the concept of irrigating only the root zone of the crop and maintaining the water content of the root zone at near optimum levels (Keller and Bliesner, 1990; James, 1988; Jensen, 1983). Over the past decades, irrigation engineers have developed various drip irrigation systems ranging from high tech, sophisticated technological systems to relatively simple, low-cost systems. Any drip irrigation system is built up from more or less standard technical elements. These building blocks include, among others, a pump, a filtration system, (sub) mains and laterals, emitters and valves. However, standard drip irrigation systems do not exist. The challenge for the engineer and the farmer is to balance farmer’s needs, farming system characteristics, water availability, water quality, field and crop types, and farmers’ capabilities with the technological options available. Even if this is done with great care, many irrigation practitioners experience problems in operating drip irrigation systems. Farmers and extension workers continuously encounter specific problems and are inventive in making adaptations to solve these. This chapter describes the basic layout and design aspects of a drip irrigation system and describes the most commonly encountered problems at farm level and the adaptations made. These adaptations can be a response to flaws in initial design, ill-adapted choice of components, improper installation or end-users skill set.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDrip Irrigation for Agriculture
Subtitle of host publicationUntold Stories of Efficiency, innovation and Development
EditorsJean-Philippe Venot, Kuper Marcel, Zwarteveen Margreet
Place of PublicationOxon
ISBN (Electronic)9781315537146
ISBN (Print)9781138687073
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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