Being from central Illinois I see many row crop fields with irrigation. the most common style of irrigation in my county is a center pivot irrigation system. This is common in my county because we sit on the Mahomet-Teays aquifer, it is easy for farmers to access water with wells then pump the needed amount of water for the crops.
Another form of irrigation is drip line irrigation. this form of irrigation is common on vegetable farms. The irrigation is buried a set number of feet beneath the soil. Subsurface irrigation is plastic lines buried usually every other row to provide a controlled amount of water. The plastic line has holes that place the water where the roots are able to reach is. This water is pumped from a well. The well is dug on the edge of the field and
a large line runs perpendicular to the rows on the edge of the field and smaller lines run parallel to the rows. Subsurface irrigation is an efficient way to provide water to crops.
If farmers were to not irrigate their field they would have a potential yield loss. The plants would most likely be fine unless they are in areas that have little rainfall throughout the summer.
A key reason that subsurface irrigation is efficient is that there is no water evaporation. Since the water is being provided under the soil the water does not evaporate into the air and no water is wasted. Also, farmers are able to pump needed nutrients through the lines to the crops.
Some disadvantages of subsurface irrigation are animals chewing the lines, lines busting and tillage. The lines are plastic they can be easily damaged by the pressure of the water being pumped through. Also, animals like ground squirrels will chew through the lines causing issues with the lines. Tillage can also be an issue considering you want the water to be easily accessed by the root system. This means the lines can only be placed so deep in the soil making it harder to till fields with subsurface irrigation.
According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the installation of subsurface drip line can run from $500 to $800 dollars an acre. In areas that the groundwater may be hard to reach or the aquifers are too deep to access, this system may not be the best. It is on the higher side of price per acre. Many vegetable farms will use this system because they are not covering as many acres, so it is more efficient for them to use.
My Name is Derrick Rabbe, I am a from Mason City, IL. I am a junior studying Agricultural business at Western Illinois University.