Agricultural Drip Irrigation



Subsurface drip irrigation saves water, improves crop yields and quality, and facilitates fertilizer application; however, system performance is dependent upon skilled management. Potential disadvantages include salt accumulation near plants, restricted root development, high system costs, and restricted crop rotation. The three primary hydraulic classifications of drip emitters are laminar, turbulent, and pressure compensating. Analysis of Reynolds equation shows the advantage of turbulent flow emitters over laminar flow emitters. Pressure compensating emitters have the best hydraulic performance and generally rely on diaphragms that reduce flow at high pressure. As with sprinkler irrigation laterals, drip irrigation laterals are multi-outlet systems. The hydraulics can be calculated with analytic equations if slope is uniform, or with spreadsheets for any field. Most drip laterals in agriculture are classified as in-line, with emitters manufactured into the tubing. Proper filtration is a key to successful drip irrigation system performance. Sand filters are a necessary pretreatment step when the water source is a pond or stream. The design of lateral length and diameter is evaluated by the emission uniformity, which is a function of number of emitters per plant, minimum and average pressure in the lateral, the emitter exponent, and the manufacturer’s coefficient of variation. The most popular drip system is subsurface drip irrigation with dual feed laterals.


Subsurface drip Drip emitters Pressure variation Tubing Filtration Screen filters Sand separation Irrigation design 


  1. Netafim (2015) AGF sand media filters: operation, installation, and maintenance guide. Netafim USA, Fresno.
  2. Netafim (2015) Hydrocyclone sand separators: operation, installation, and maintenance guide. Netafim USA, Fresno.
  3. ASAE Engineering Practice: ASAE EP405 – Design, Installation, and Performance of Trickle Irrigation Systems (1993) American Society of Agricultural Engineers, St. JosephGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Agricultural and Biosystems EngineeringUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

Personalised recommendations