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  • Writer's pictureTeresa Derrick-Mills

Farm Tools 4: Drip Tape Irrigation

How is drip tape irrigation a farm tool?

Drip tape is a tool for watering (irrigating) plants. On the left, you can see two lines of drip tape put down in a snowy farm field row getting ready for planting. On the right you can see a pile of drip tape used previously and waiting for the next season.

How do we use drip tape at Chocolates and Tomatoes Farm?

The pictures above are at Chocolates and Tomatoes Farm. Drip tape is the primary tool that we use to water the fruit, herbs, and veggies that we grow in the field and in our high tunnel. It is a key tool in our sustainable farming efforts.

We use drip tape because it decreases water waste by delivering water in a targeted way directly to the roots of the fruit, herbs, and veggies we planted. We

  • lose less water to evaporation -- it goes from inside the tape to the soil

  • erode the soil less -- by putting just enough water into the soil where the plants' roots will absorb it, we are less likely to wash away the soil

  • feed the weeds less -- we plant right alongside the drip tape, and we usually put fabric on top so the only growing hole is for what we planted (of course weeds always find a way, but this cuts back on them)

We also use drip tape because is it a flexible way to deliver the water where we need it to go. Our well is towards the back of the property. We dug delivery pipes underground up over to the tunnel on the hill and down to the front field. In the field, we created a couple of spigots, but we don't have underground water sources all the way to the bottom of the field. The drip tape allows us to reach all parts of the field and:

  • change the configuration throughout the season. We connect drip tape to the spigots, and use a series of connectors to lay out rows within the field. As the crops change, we move it around to meet our needs. We can pick it all up at the end of the season.

  • piece it together in various ways - we can cut it to various lengths, use end plugs to keep it flowing only in certain spots, use connectors to link strips together, and use valves to turn on/off certain parts.

  • not have to worry about it breaking too often -- sure it springs a leak everyone once in awhile, but it puts up with alot. The tractor can run it over. The wind can rattle it around. We can pile it up like you see above. It is pretty easy to fix leaks if you get them.

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