Banner The Dos and Don’ts of Drip Irrigation

The Dos and Don’ts of Drip Irrigation

For optimal growth, every plant in the orchard, field, greenhouse, or vineyard needs exactly the right amount of water and nutrition at exactly the right time. No matter what crop you are growing.

Too little water and the crop will not grow properly. Too much water and the crop will also not achieve optimal growth. In addition, all excess water is lost and gives no value even though it costs the farmer money. If just the right amount of water is given, the crop grows optimally, and no resources are wasted.

Firstly, a farmer must know what is happening in the root-zone of the plant to monitor of the right amount of water is given. The best tools to monitor soil moisture conditions will always be the farmer and their spade. By digging open the soil where the plants are growing a farmer can easily and quickly see if too little, just the correct amount or too much irrigation water is being applied.

Secondly, the right irrigation tools must be used to enable precise water delivery to every plant. This is where drip irrigation is the perfect solution. Drip irrigation delivers the precise amount of water a plant needs directly to the plant’s root zone, exactly when the plant needs it. The water is fed to the plant by a dedicated specialised pipe (dripline) that has water emitters (drippers) installed at specified distances inside the dripline. In addition to supplying water, a drip irrigation system can also be adapted to apply fertilizer and other remedies directly to the root zone. Drip irrigation allows the farmer to control many of the manageable aspects that physically affect the growth of a plant.

The benefits of drip irrigation are numerous and will help you harvest a higher yield of better quality; using less water, energy, and fertiliser, saving money and lessen you and your team’s workload so you can concentrate of developing the other aspects of your business.

Some of the benefits of drip irrigation include:

  • Achieve up to 50% in water savings.
  • Smaller pumps and pipes can be used that are more cost-effective and easier to install, maintain, manage, and run.
  • Achieve up to 50% in energy savings.
  • Achieve higher yield quality: Crop nutrition management is greatly improved when fertiliser application is incorporated into the drip system. Uniform irrigation and nutrition lead to uniform crop production. Improved profitability through increasing yields and quality while reducing costs.
  • Drip irrigation offers the highest level of drought resilience.
  • Drip irrigation systems are easy to use. The operation of drip irrigation systems does not require physical strength or large implements.
  • Drip irrigation’s energy-use efficiency makes it ideal to use with natural, renewable, and sustainable energy sources.

 The difference drip irrigation can make. This photo was taken on a small-scale farm, the plants on the left are under drip irrigation and the plants on the right are irrigated with impact sprinklers. This farmer is growing more with less.  

But isn’t it complicated?

Some farmers believe that drip irrigation is very complicated and difficult to use. This is not the case, in fact drip irrigation is easy to use and extremely reliable. However, successful drip irrigation must have good irrigation system maintenance. To grow more with less using drip irrigation, it is important to take the necessary steps to ensure that drippers do not clog and become blocked. It is essential that a good drip irrigation system have the correct filtration to remove dirt or other solids from the water, and the farmer must be able to flush the driplines to remove dirt or other contaminants that may have built up. Diligence and care are required to maintain the system and keep it working efficiently.

There are many important steps to follow. Filters must be kept clean. Drip and submainlines must be flushed according to the maintenance schedule. Once drippers are blocked, they cannot be unblocked again, so blocking must be prevented at all costs. Successful farmers clean their irrigation systems every week or even more often if the water is dirty. If the basic preventative maintenance is done properly, a drip irrigation system can work efficiently for a long time.

Let’s look at the basic dos and don’ts of drip irrigation:


Plan and design carefully

It is crucial to rely on experts to guide informed decision-making, but also to keep yourself informed to a level sufficient to guide you through the process.

Use quality components

Whether selecting thin wall or heavy wall drip, the most advanced dripper or dripper with fewer features, quality cannot be compromised on. Although it might not seem so, it is possible to not veer from selecting quality products, while still maintaining the optimal balance between drip irrigation performance and your budgetary restrictions.

Optimally space emitters

A comprehensive portfolio of drippers and driplines with varying dripper spacings and flow rates is available that cover a wide range of crops and applications. Be sure to use the right combination for your crop and circumstances.

Practice regular maintenance

The secret to efficient drip irrigation is regular preventative maintenance. Cleaning filters and flushing the system often is essential. Check for clogging and leaks in the driplines routinely and make the needed repairs immediately.

Monitor soil moisture

The best tool for monitoring soil moisture is the farmer, their boots and a spade. Carefully dig open the root-zone and look at the water and root conditions.


Ensure proper filtration

Use correct filtration to prevent clogging of emitters and ensure a consistent flow of water. Never use a filter that with a too course filtration grade (holes that are too big) in relation to the drippers.

Learn about

drip irrigation

If you are new to drip irrigation, do not start without proper training or consulting the necessary experts. Understanding the principles of drip irrigation is essential to success.  Netafim’s precision irrigation academy is an online knowledge resource for farmers. Visit the Precision Irrigation Academy. 





Over-irrigation can stop optimal crop growth, wastes water and energy, and can leach nutrients. All of this eats a farmer’s profit.




Clean filters and driplines routinely and fix broken components and leaks immediately.


Mix crop types inappropriately

Do not mix crops with very different water requirements on a single dripline. Group crops with similar water needs together to optimise irrigation.


Ignore local climate & weather

Adjust your irrigation schedule based on your farm’s climate conditions and weather forecasts. Reduce irrigation during rainy periods and increase irrigation during hot dry periods.


Use low-quality components

Do not compromise on component quality to save money initially. Low-quality components can lead to frequent repairs that will increase costs in the long-term and make the drip irrigation system difficult to manage.


Overload the system

Do not connect too many driplines or sections to a single infield irrigation zone or sub-mainline. This will result in poor and uneven water distribution.


Ask the Experts

Take on drip irrigation with the right team by your side. Netafim’s range of advanced quality precision irrigation solutions and team of experts can help you grow more with less. Netafim is the world leader in precision irrigation. Our purpose is to advance life around the world by helping farmers grow more with less. How – by driving the mass adoption of precision irrigation and providing innovative precision irrigation solutions. Why – to fight water, land, and food scarcity.


Download the Netafim handbook for small-scale farmers

Download the Netafim handbook for small-scale farmers