Irrigation canals, water wheels driven by oxen, and smooth stones meant to catch dew drops that form during colder nights have all been used to water crops. Irrigation processes are constantly evolving. In today’s world, subsurface drip irrigation is one of the most efficient ways of water dispersal.
This subsurface system wastes little water by allowing it to drip out directly onto the root zone while a miniscule amount of the liquid is lost to drain-off or evaporation. This is an attractive choice, especially when one considers that water is not always an abundant resource.
Drip irrigation doesn’t only benefit those concerned about saving on water, however. This system is also an environmentally friendly alternative to the more wasteful systems (like sprinkler or surface irrigation). Ideally,when it is an option, wastewater (or effluent) is used to grow crops and maintain grasses, in order to preserve the limited freshwater for other uses.
GeoFlow, based in Corte Madera, California and founded in 1990 with the goals of preserving water quality and quantity, specializes in wastewater irrigation systems and explains that “since the effluent is dispersed underground where it is absorbed in the biologically active soil layer, there is no surface contamination, no ponding, no run-off problems, no bad smells.” Another added benefit is that with an underground drip system, pesticides are not washed off plants with every watering, so plants do not need to be treated as often.
With GeoFLow’s WasteFlow system, secondary reclaimed water can be used and is pumped into the drip-field and released under plants on a time-activated cycle. The drip systems provided by GeoFlow are easily installed about eight inches in the soil, where treated effluent is absorbed.
GeoFlow takes things a step further with their patented RootGuard and Ultra-fresh treated emitters. Flexible tubing carries water under the soil where it is released by evenly spaced emitters. The emitters are equipped with self-cleaning filters while the non-toxic active ingredient in RootGuard, Treflan, keeps roots from growing around the emitters. The drip lines are also coated with the anti-bacterial, Ultra-Fresh, which inhibits bacterial growth inside the tubing and the emitters. This prevents slime build up inside the tube.
A subsurface drip system does have a high initial investment cost, however, ranging from $800-1500 per acre. Fortunately, Geoflow stands behind their product, offering a 10-year warranty for root intrusion, workmanship and materials.
The fact that the system is built to last many years, saves an abundance of water and is incredibly simple to operate has enticed many to switch over to drip irrigation.