Drip Irrigation of Crops is Growing Fast in World Use, But Older Methods Still Prevail

Although the use of drip irrigation, a plant watering method that delivers water directly to the roots of plants in just the right amounts, is growing rapidly in popularity, a big majority of plant growers still rely on crop watering methods that are thousands of years old. Drip irrigation can  double or triple water productivity.

Over the last twenty years, the area under drip and other “micro” irrigation methods has risen at least 6.4-fold.

The most dramatic gains have occurred in China and India, the world’s top two irrigators, where the area under micro-irrigation expanded 88-fold and 111-fold, respectively, over the last two decades. India now leads the world, with nearly 2 million hectares (about 5 million acres) under micro-irrigation methods.

Amazingly, most farmers today still irrigate the way their predecessors did thousands of years ago — by flooding their fields or running water down furrows between their rows of crops. Often less than half the water applied to the field actually benefits a crop.

California leads the US in drip irrigation usage, with Florida and Texas a distant second and third.

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