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How Drip Irrigation System Works? [Explained For Dummies]

Want to know about drip irrigation system?

Looking for a dummy-proof guide on it?

Well, you have come to the right place. In this article, I’ve explained in details how drip irrigation system works. So, if you are interested, take a look!

What is Drip Irrigation System?

The idea of irrigation is very simple. Basically, it refers to supplying water to your crops, flowers, trees, etc. on a large scale. Irrigation has been in use for as long as man can recall, there's no record to who came up with the idea of it.

However, it did pave the way for a much advanced civilization. As irrigation became more of a household chore for agriculture-based societies, more farming technologies came into being effectively tackling food shortage and similar problems. But, with passing time, irrigation has also changed accordingly.

Right now, emphasis is put on irrigation mechanisms that are more efficient, quick, economically feasible and saves water. Considering the issue of water scarcity that's only increasing, coming up with a more sustainable idea is the best possible alternative.

And right now, the best idea is the drip irrigation system. It's cheap, economically feasible and a lot more effective and well as water saving than every other method available.

Basically, drip irrigation is a very controlled form of irrigation. Here, not only the direction of water flow but also the amount of water flow is taken care of. A number of instruments are necessary to control the flow of water outside and the amount of water flowing out.

How Drip Irrigation System Works

Drip Irrigation System Mechanism

The main idea behind drip irrigation is that water flow is down by applying water directly into the plants’ roots allowing it to absorb the water directly without causing any bit of hassle or wastage. In order to do so, a number of instruments are required that will get the job done about right. Some of the key instruments and their usage are described below.

ValvesThe reason behind the use of valves is to control the flow of water. To ensure that water is flowing to parts of the field and the plants are getting exactly the amount of water they require. Valves are again of two types, which are:

  • Isolation valves: Isolation valves are valves which act in order to completely turn off the flow of water and make the system go vacant. They're mostly used during off-season and repair times so water doesn't accumulate and stagnate within the system.
  • Control valves: Control valves are used to control the flow of water. To determine how much water is required here and there and to turn off the water supply for any part of the field, control valves are necessary.
  • Backflow Preventers: It is mandatory that every drip irrigation system has backflow preventers installed. The water supply of most drip irrigation systems are directly from the soil, and it's likely that the water will have bacteria or even pests and organisms in it. The backflow preventer works in order to prevent the water from directly going into the field but rather make sure that every bit of the excess dirt goes out of the flowing water and back into the open.
  • Pressure regulators and pressure controlling valves: Pressure regulation is very important for a drip irrigation system. Low pressure means that no water will go out of the pipes and the entire system will be pointless.

Again, the pressure is too high, it's very likely that the plants will be damaged by the huge flow of water. Generally, drip irrigation systems work better when the pressure is moderate, and that's how it should be handled. So pressure regulators and pressure controlling valves are attached so that the pressure remains constant throughout and nothing is damaged from it.

Now, for pressure regulators, it's wise to choose the right thing. There are pressure regulators with a pre-modified set of rules which are better for home use as most people tend to keep the usage of things easy.

Also, there are pressure regulators that provide a full user experience and would provide you a customized experience of everything you'd need to run your system. Although it's a bit more expensive and might require a lot of professionalism to be handled, it's not too hard to use.

Filters: Filters are very necessary to run your drip irrigation system. As your emitters have a very small opening, it's understandable that all that dirt in underground water might clog the filters and get you into trouble.

While backflow regulators are used to take any amount of debris backward and anything that remains is cleaned by the filters. It's advisable to use filters between 120-150 mesh which is the best for its job. But if simpler stuff is used, it's wiser to choose a better backflow regulator to work for it.

Emitters: Emitters are the key part of your drip irrigation system. Solely for the fact that they're taken responsible for controlling the direct flow of water of the system. They're generally made out of plastic and are required to be inserted into the pipe by a spring or screw.

For emitters, the best option is to put them 400-450mm apart from each other so that the water reaches the roots directly without being too wasteful. Also, choosing a good emitter is helpful just so they don't break in pressure and damage the entire system.

Mainline and lateral pipes: The mainline is the connection between the water supply and the emitters to finally the field. It can be made of either PVC, galvanized steel, polyethylene or a number of different materials.

While the lateral lines spread out and provide water to all the corners of the field.

Air Vents: Air vents are used to manage the air pressure inside the system. If the pressure gets too high, water won't pass. Air vents suck the pressure out while they can add a bit of air pressure if the pressure is too low to make sure the system is running at all its Glory.

End cap:  The end cap is placed at the business end of the entire system, it is placed to prevent water droplets to go out. It's necessary to save water from being wasted


I hope by now you are clear of how drip irrigation system works. Drip irrigation is a great way of saving water which is very necessary. Considering that water supplies are constantly getting exhausted, any bit of saving is important.

Although it has an initial expense and labor, it becomes completely worth the time and money after it has started running in its full glory. Take a look at our full review to decide which system is best for you.

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