Last month, I was engaged as a consultant by a group of businesspeople who are trying to set up an irrigation-based farming enterprise. One of the problems they were trying to get my input on was that of irrigation system selection. In other words, they were seeking my advice, on the sort of irrigation system to use. And one of the options on the table was that of using the drip irrigation system. Some of them seemed to be very much in favor of this particular system. I found myself in a difficult situation, where I had to pinpoint to them the downside to drip irrigation, without appearing as if I was personally opposed to their ideas. The whole interaction got me to appreciate the level to which people tend to romanticize drip irrigation: to the extent of overlooking its downsides.
The truth of the matter is that the drip irrigation system, notwithstanding its considerable advantages, also has certain disadvantages that are worth keeping in mind.
For one, the drip irrigation system costs a lot of money to set up. This is especially the case if you are trying to do a commercial farming project using the drip irrigation system. For small projects, it is okay: I even know of a fellow who worked at Walmart (and therefore used the Walmartone schedule program) who was nonetheless able to set up a small-scale backyard garden using the drip irrigation system. For big projects though, the investment to be made in setting up the drip irrigation system is often so huge that it becomes very hard to recoup the cost.
Further, the drip irrigation system is hard to maintain. It requires lots of technical expertise, to keep it running. You can’t afford to overlook this.
Thirdly, there are limitations in terms of the types of crops that can be grown using the drip irrigation system. The drip irrigation system seems to only work well when growing the crops that require modest amounts of water. But the system is out of question, when it comes to growing crops that require lots of water.