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A 2020 Vision of Subsurface Drip Irrigation in the U.S.  Open Access

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

Citation:  Transactions of the ASABE. 64(4): 1319-1343. (doi: 10.13031/trans.14555) @2021
Authors:   Freddie R. Lamm, Paul D. Colaizzi, Ronald B. Sorensen, James P. Bordovsky, Mark Dougherty, Kris Balkcom, Daniele Zaccaria, Khaled M. Bali, Daran R. Rudnick, R. Troy Peters
Keywords:   Drip Irrigation, Irrigation, Irrigation systems, Microirrigation, SDI, Water management.


Subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) has continued to expand in irrigation area within the U.S. during the last 15 years.

Research with SDI continues for multiple crop types (fiber, grain and oilseed, horticultural, forage, and turf).

SDI usage on many crops has matured through research and development of appropriate strategies and technologies

Despite some persistent challenges to successful use of SDI, important opportunities exist for further adoption.

Abstract. Subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) offers several advantages over alternative irrigation systems when it is designed and installed correctly and when best management practices are adopted. These advantages include the ability to apply water and nutrients directly and efficiently within the crop root zone. Disadvantages of SDI in commercial agriculture relative to alternative irrigation systems include greater capital cost per unit land area (except for small land parcels), unfamiliar management and maintenance protocols that can exacerbate the potential for emitter clogging, the visibility of system attributes (components and design characteristics) and performance, and the susceptibility to damage (i.e., rodents and tillage) of the subsurface driplines. Despite these disadvantages, SDI continues to be adopted in commercial agriculture in the U.S., and research efforts to evaluate and develop SDI systems continue as well. This article summarizes recent progress in research (2010 to 2020) and the status of commercial adoption of SDI, along with a discussion of current challenges and future opportunities.

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