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Drip irrigation, also known as trickle irrigation or microirrigation is an irrigation method which minimizes the use of water and fertilizer by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either onto the soil surface or directly onto the root zone, through a network of valves, pipes, tubing, and emitters.

Modern drip irrigation has arguably become the world's most important innovation in agriculture since the invention of the impact sprinkler in the 1930s, which replaced flood irrigation. Drip irrigation may also use devices called micro-spray heads, which spray water in a small area, instead of dripping emitters. These are generally used on tree and vine crops with wider root zones.

Subsurface drip irrigation uses permanently or temporarily buried dripperline or drip tape located at or below the plant roots. It is becoming popular for row crop irrigation, especially in areas where water supplies are limited or recycled water is used for irrigation. Careful study of all the relevant factors like land topography, soil, water, crop and agro-climatic conditions are needed to determine the most suitable drip irrigation system and components to be used in a specific installation.
Drip irrigation is most suitable for row crops (tomato, green or red pepper, aubergine, melon, watermelon), tree and vine crops where one or more drippers can be provided for each plant..

The advantages of drip irrigation are:
Minimized fertilizer/nutrient loss due to localized application and reduced leaching. 
High water distribution efficiency. 
Leveling of the field not necessary. 
Allows safe use of recycled water. 
Moisture within the root zone can be maintained at field capacity. 
Soil type plays less important role in frequency of irrigation. 
Minimized soil erosion. 
Highly uniform distribution of water i.e., controlled by output of each nozzle. 
Lower labour cost. 
Variation in supply can be regulated by regulating the valves and drippers. 
Fertigation can easily be included with minimal waste of fertilizers. 
Early maturity and a bountiful harvest (season after season, year after year) 
Foliage remains dry thus reducing the risk of disease.

Why consider drip irrigation? 

Drip irrigation can help you use water efficiently. A well-designed drip irrigation system loses practically no water to runoff, deep percolation, or evaporation. Drip irrigation reduces water contact with crop leaves, stems, and fruit. Thus conditions may be less favorable for the onset of diseases. Irrigation scheduling can be managed precisely to meet crop demands, holding the promise of increased yield and quality.

Growers and irrigation professionals often refer to "subsurface drip irrigation," or SDI. When a drip tape or tube is buried below the soil surface, it is less vulnerable to damage during cultivation or weeding. With SDI, water use efficiency is maximized because there is even less evaporation or runoff.

Agricultural chemicals can be applied more efficiently with drip irrigation. Since only the crop root zone is irrigated, nitrogen already in the soil is less subject to leaching losses, and applied fertilizer N can be used more efficiently. In the case of insecticides, less product might be needed. Make sure the insecticide is labeled for application through drip irrigation.

Additional advantages of drip irrigation include:

Drip systems are adaptable to oddly shaped fields or those with uneven topography or soil texture; these specific factors must be considered in designing the drip system. Drip systems also can work well where other irrigation systems are inefficient because parts of the field have excessive infiltration, water puddling, or runoff. 

Drip irrigation can be helpful if water is scarce or expensive. Because evaporation, runoff, and deep percolation are reduced and irrigation uniformity is improved, it is not necessary to "over-water" parts of a field to adequately irrigate the more difficult parts. 

Precise application of nutrients is possible using drip irrigation. Fertilizer costs and nitrate losses can be reduced. Nutrient applications can be better timed to meet plants' needs. 

Drip irrigation systems can be designed and managed so that the wheel traffic rows are dry enough to allow tractor operations at any time. Timely application of herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides is possible. 

Proven yield and quality responses to drip irrigation have been observed in onion, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, melon, tomato, and cotton.