Irrigation Options: Booms and Sprinklers

Boom irrigation systems are made of pipes with spray nozzles that are suspended over a crop. They are pulled along a rail or mounted to a cart pulled by a vehicle, and spray water over the plants as they move along. Boom systems are commonly used in commercial greenhouses. Boom systems can be connected to sensors and timers for automation. Automation also allows growers to program different spray patterns. 

Since booms are an overhead watering source, they wet the entire plant. While they are more efficient than hand watering, they still waste a significant amount of water. To get the most out of a boom irrigation system, the correct nozzles and spray patterns need to be used at the correct height. Boom irrigation is ideal for plants grown in tightly spaced large pots, plug trays or flats that are not well suited for drip irrigation.

Sprinkler systems are less used than boom irrigation because they do not apply water as uniformly and waste a lot of water. In greenhouses, they can be practical for irrigating tightly spaced pots with an open canopy, and for propagation misting. Both boom irrigation and sprinkler systems water plants from the top-down. Top-down watering inevitably results in wet foliage. This is of concern because wet foliage encourages pathogens and pests. The water itself can be damaging to more delicate plants and flowers.

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