Drip irrigation is a type of micro-irrigation that has the potential to save water and nutrients by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either from above the soil surface or buried below the surface. The goal is to place water directly into the root zone and minimize evaporation. Drip irrigation systems distribute water through a network of valves, pipes, tubes and emitters. Depending on how well designed, installed, maintained and operated it is, a drip irrigation system can be more efficient than other types of irrigation systems, such as flood or overhead sprinkler irrigation.
Drip irrigation systems need to employ some type of filtration to prevent clogging of the small emitter flow paths by minute waterborne particles.
A properly designed, installed and managed drip irrigation system helps to achieve water conservation by reducing evaporation, water runoff and deep drainage when compared to other types of irrigation such as flood or overhead sprinklers. In addition, drip irrigation can eliminate many diseases that are spread through water contact with the foliage. Finally, in regions where water resources are limited, there may be no actual water savings, but rather simply an increase in production while using the same amount of water as before. In very arid regions or on sandy soils, the preferred method is to apply the irrigation water as slowly as possible.