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Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Transactions of the ASAE. 41(5): 1353-1367. (doi: 10.13031/2013.17309) @1998
Authors:   C. R. Camp
Keywords:   Subsurface trickle irrigation, Microirrigation, Buried drip irrigation, Consumptive use, Evapotranspiration, Water use efficiency, Fertigation, Irrigation scheduling

A comprehensive review of published information on subsurface drip irrigation was performed to determine the state of the art on the subject. Subsurface drip irrigation has been a part of drip irrigation development in the USA since its beginning about 1960, but interest has escalated since the early 1980s. Yield response for over 30 crops indicated that crop yield for subsurface drip was greater than or equal to that for other irrigation methods, including surface drip, and required less water in most cases. Lateral depths ranged from 0.02 to 0.70 m and lateral spacings ranged from 0.25 to 5.0 m. Several irrigation scheduling techniques, management strategies, crop water requirements, and water use efficiencies were discussed. Injection of nutrients, pesticides, and other chemicals to modify water and soil conditions is an important component of subsurface drip irrigation. Some mathematical models that simulate water movement in subsurface drip systems were included. Uniformity measurements and methods, a limited assessment of root intrusion into emitters, and estimates of overall system longevity were also discussed.

Sufficient information exists to provide general guidance with regard to design, installation, and management of subsurface drip irrigation systems. A significant body of information is available to assist in determining relative advantages and disadvantages of this technology in comparison with other irrigation types. Subsurface drip provides a more efficient delivery system if water and nutrient applications are managed properly. Waste water application, especially for turf and landscape plants, offers great potential. Profitability and economic aspects have not been determined conclusively and will depend greatly on local conditions and constraints, especially availability and cost of water.

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