Advantages and Disadvantages of Drip Irrigation— Things to Consider


Irrigation is an important component of any farm, and drip irrigation is one of the most
popular options. However, to make the best choice for your operation, you’ll need to consider
the advantages and disadvantages of drip irrigation when deciding if it’s right for your crops.

Advantages of Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation offers many benefits. It delivers water directly to the crop’s roots,
meaning less water is wasted and more money saved. Nutrients, fertilizers, and other
applications can also be delivered precisely to the plants, resulting in less water usage.
Additionally, because water and other nutrients are being delivered directly to the plant, drip
irrigation cuts down on weeds, other pests, and disease. Drip irrigation systems can also be
configured to irregularly-shaped fields, and they require much less water pressure than other
types of irrigation. Lastly, drip irrigation systems can be automated and paired with other
technology, like water sensors.

Disadvantages of Drip Irrigation

The biggest disadvantage of drip irrigation systems is the cost. A UF/IFAS Extension
article puts the cost of installing drip irrigation anywhere from $500 to $1,200 per acre.
Maintenance expenses are also higher as the drip irrigation lines can be easily damaged by
tilling, planting, animals, and the elements, requiring costly repairs.

Factors for Irrigation Considerations

AgAmerica researched irrigation options in November of 2016. In speaking with
agriculture industry members, Tom Willis, owner of T&O Farms in Liberal, Kansas and one of
three operators in Kansas’s three-year Dragon Line™ irrigation study and Dr. Wesley Porter of
the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, we identified the following factors that should
be considered when installing irrigation:
 type of crop
 fuel cost and availability
 initial cost
 labor requirements
 size and shape of the field(s)
 available water source

CREDIT: DON HARDEN

This column is sponsored by AgAmerica Lending.

BIO: Donald Harden, a Relationship Manager for AgAmerica Lending, grew up in the cattle and citrus business,
managing a family ranch of several thousand cattle and horses. He has more than 30 years of experience in the real
estate business, and more than 20 years specializing in agricultural sales. Don has owned and operated farm and
ranch supply stores, machinery auction companies, and farms. He has served as a director and on the board of the
Cattlemen’s Association, as the manufacturer’s representative for ag equipment companies, and as a beef cattle
specialist for a national feed company. Don has traveled across the U.S. as a sales rep, conducting seminars and
fostering long-lasting business relationships. Don enjoys his work at AgAmerica, as he has never met a stranger.
For more information, visit www.AgAmerica.com.