Ethical Eats

Brought to you by Oxfam @ Queen's

Drip Irrigation Systems

Part of the LOFT movement includes a commitment to environmental responsibility. Less packaging, more reusable and recyclable materials, shorter transportation of food itself – but more directly, and perhaps most importantly, is farming techniques. The meat industry is often highlighted as unsustainable and inhumane as well as highly wasteful. Surprisingly, the agricultural industry can be equally as unsustainable.

Farms are major contributors to water scarcity – about 70% of all water consumed is through farming techniques…and most of the water is wasted.

Drip irrigation (also known as trickle or micro irrigation) is a horticultural method engineered to control the application of water and fertilizer to enable water to drip slowly to the roots of the plants. Although the technique continues to be developed, the network of valves and tubes has proven efficienct, effective, and worth pursuing for both farmer security and water security.

What are the benefits of drip irrigation?

  • reduced water use – drip irrigation can use up to half the amount of water overhead irrigation systems do
  • improved efficiency – the direct application of water and/or fertilizer keeps costs low and less nutrients are losses (and nutrients can be timed more precisely to the plants’ needs)
  • less weeds – the direct application can also help focus the irrigation on the plants rather than the surrounding foliage
  • low pumping – drip irrigation requires lower operating pressure than overhead systems
  • better distribution – the direct application improves the ability of the field to be watered equally and properly throughout (even with irregularly shaped fields)

ImageUnfortunately, drip irrigation systems can be expensive to both install and maintain but the benefits may outweigh the disadvantages especially when considering the amount of water such a system can save.