Greenhouse Irrigation Systems Explained

Good greenhouse irrigation needs to be cost-effective, have efficient water usage, and ensure uniform application of water to the plants. Irrigation systems for greenhouses can be manually operated, but automated systems will manage irrigation more effectively, making sure that plants are watered with a consistent amount on a regular schedule, with reduced labor inputs. Hand watering is rarely done in commercial greenhouses because even small growers can find semi-automated systems for a reasonable price.

Types of Greenhouse Irrigation

Irrigation System Uses Benefits
Drip Tape Delivers water in small amounts directly to roots via flat polyethylene hose with perforations Convenient for stationary plants and delivering fertilizer, conserves water
Drippers Similar to drip tape but the tape is buried, direct delivery of water to roots Blocks UV rays from the sun from deteriorating plastic tape
Overhead Sprayers and Booms  Used with mature plants; Does not conserve water- only about 20% of water sprayed reaches plants Useful for multiple zoned greenhouses and semi-automation
Manual Watering Water delivered by hand through hoses or watering cans, labor-intensive Allows for direct oversight 
Capillary Mats Mats that fill with water, water is pulled up into the soil to the roots; Best for potted plants grown on benched Low waste and avoids overwatering
Misters Hoses connect to nozzles that produce a fine mist of water over plants; For watering during propagation Keeps cuttings and seedlings cool and provides irrigation
Ebb and Flow Tables or Flood Floors Provides uniform sub-irrigation with water recapture and reuse; Ebb and flow tables are also used as hydroponic systems Conserves and recycles water and avoids overwatering
Hydroponic Systems  Plants are grown in a non-soil medium that secure the plant in place in a container circulated with water and nutrient solution No additional irrigation needed
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