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Applicability, advantages and disadvantages of subsurface drip irrigation


Subsurface drip irrigation systems are highly efficient irrigation systems that apply accurate amounts of water directly to the root zone, preventing water loss through evaporation and other negative effects of surface irrigation. This is especially suitable for arid, semi-arid, hot, and windy areas with limited water supply. However, as the system is relatively complex and most likely automated, it is more suitable for medium to large-scale production.


  • High degree of control over water application with the potential for high uniformity of application
  • Evaporation is reduced
  • The amount of water can be fine-tuned. This avoids water loss caused by run off or evaporation
  • Frequent irrigation allows for optimum soil moisture content in the root zone
  • Great performance in windy and arid locations
  • If pre-treated wastewater is used for irrigation, the risk of direct contact with crops and laborers is reduced


  • Risk of clogging
  • When saline water is used, salts accumulate at the wetting front
  • Emitter can be damaged or blocked by root hairs
  • Bacterial slimes and algae growing on the interior walls of the laterals and emitters combined with clay particles in the water can block the emitters
  • Suspended organic matter and clay particles can damage the system
  • A lot of repair work is caused by rodents chewing the tubes
  • Heavy machinery can damage the laterals

(Stauffer 2012b)