At Gra-Mac Irrigation, we’ve made it our life’s work to gain an expertise in irrigation systems. We know just about everything there is to know about complex watering systems, and we provide high-quality irrigation components to anybody in North Carolina who has need of them.

However, not everyone who uses an irrigation system has all the facts and knowledge about irrigation. Newcomers will have a lot of questions about what irrigation method is right for them, and even seasoned farmers and gardeners can make mistakes from time to time. That’s why it’s important to understand the different types of irrigation systems.

There are many different methods of how you can supply water to a large body of plants. With each one, the water is supplied in different volumes, reaching different areas, which could have an effect on plant growth. The bottom line is that some systems are better for certain plants than others.

In this blog post, we’ll break down the different types of irrigation systems so you can understand which is best for you! And if you have a need for quality irrigation system parts and components, remember to browse our online selection!

Drip Irrigation

Of the many types of irrigation systems that currently exist, drip irrigation systems are arguably the most popular, for several reasons.

Drip irrigation, in a nutshell, is the process of lacing your garden area with irrigation lines that feed into the root systems of your plants, “dripping” water into them gradually. This is a most efficient system because it allows you to directly hydrate your plants without having to water the surface.

Because drip systems feed directly into the roots, they are much more efficient in their net water usage. With surface watering systems, you have to use much more water, because a lot of the water you use doesn’t even make it to the soil. This is useful for hydrating the exterior of your plants, but ultimately the roots have the most dire need for hydration. In order to penetrate the soil and seep into the roots, you’ll have to use much more water than you would with a drip irrigation system.

The Advantages of Drip Irrigation:

Reduces Weed Growth: One very notable advantage with drip irrigation is that it’s specifically laced through the plants that you want to water, and due to the nature of the system, it’s hard for that water to stray very far. This means that rogue weeds in your soil won’t benefit from this watering system, ultimately reducing the overall number.

Efficient Water Usage: In terms of efficiently using water, there’s not even a contest here. Drip irrigation is by far the best use of water. Not only does it use much less, the water that it does use is less prone to evaporation.

Disadvantages of Drip Irrigation

Requires Precise Installation: Drip irrigation is remarkably effective at what it does, but only when installed with expert precision. Unfortunately, an improperly installed drip system can easily create drought conditions, prompting your plants to grow shallow instead of deep. This is obviously the opposite of the intended effect, so it’s good to make sure you have professional help when you’re setting up your drip irrigation system.

Requires Maintenance: The other drawback behind drip irrigation systems is that it requires more maintenance than other sprinkler systems. Drip irrigation equipment is vulnerable to several problems, such as debris, mineral buildup, and physical trauma from external forces such as lawnmowers. That’s why we offer an extensive variety of drip irrigation components; you’ll never want to find yourself with a broken system.

Sprinkler Irrigation

Sprinkler irrigation is more or less the opposite of drip irrigation. Instead of supplying water directly to the roots, the water is supplied overhead, usually in the form of downpour provided by sprinklers. While there are an incredible variety of different sprinkler types, at the end of the day they’re all serving the same general purpose and can therefore be lumped together for the purposes of this blog post.

Advantages of Sprinkler Irrigation:

Can Cover Large Areas: Sprinklers are probably the most cost-effective way to cover large swaths of land, making them a great choice for farmers who have acres upon acres of plants to water.

Can Be Used Anywhere: Sprinkler irrigation is the most versatile form of irrigation. Drip irrigation is difficult to maintain over large open spaces, while surface irrigation relies on the slope of the land and gravity to do its work. Sprinklers, on the other hand, can be used just about anywhere.

Disadvantages of Sprinkler Irrigation:

Expensive Upfront Cost: Sprinkler irrigation systems are the most expensive when it comes to initial installation. While the general cost gets dramatically lower once they’re running, expect to pay a hefty price to set up your system in full.

Susceptible to Wind: The biggest drawback for sprinklers is that the wind can scatter their spray all about, providing for inconsistent watering. While this is a minor annoyance every once in a while, it can be a serious problem for anyone who lives in an excessively windy area.

Surface Irrigation

If drip irrigation waters the roots of your plants, and sprinkler irrigation waters from above, then surface irrigation is somewhere in between. While there are various different forms of surface irrigation, it suffices to say that they take advantage of gravity and the shape of the land to “flood” the soil. Imagine a very gradual slope — if you pour water on it, it will trickle down, even if the slope is negligible. This is the concept behind surface irrigation — gently pouring water onto the ground, and allowing it to naturally distribute itself across your soil.

Advantages of Surface Irrigation:

Easiest and Cheapest: Surface irrigation is the most ancient irrigation technique and doesn’t require sophisticated technology to work. While modern hands have greatly improved the process, providing for advanced technology that refines surface irrigation to a tee, the bottom line is that you have a lot of variety, and if you want something that’s cheap and easy, you have that option.

Best Utilization of Rain Water: With surface irrigation systems, you’ve generally made changes to your land to provide for it. It really just comes down to shaping your property in a way to where natural water flow reliably irrigates your plants. For that reason, surface irrigation plots are very effective at utilizing rainwater; the land has already been optimized for water flow.

Disadvantages of Surface Irrigation:

Dependent on Your Terrain: For surface irrigation to work, you have to make your terrain accommodate for it, whether it’s by creating furrows to channel the water through, or depending on a slight natural slope to let gravity do its work. Unexpected changes or disturbances in your land could disrupt the effectiveness of this irrigation.

Waterlogging: One risk that surface irrigation has is channeling too much water into your crops, which can drown the roots and be counterproductive. Care has to be taken to ensure that your surface irrigation system doesn’t overwhelm your plants with water.

Get the Best Irrigation Equipment for Your Needs

Regardless of what irrigation system you use for your property, one constant is that you’ll have to have the right technology and equipment. That’s why, at Gra-Mac Irrigation Supply, we offer an extensive variety of components for irrigation systems. We’ve been providing people in North Carolina with quality irrigation parts for years, and we would be happy to supply you with the parts you need, whether you’re working with a drip system, sprinklers, or surface irrigation. Feel free to browse our online store, or contact us today!