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Proper Water Pressure & Flow In Drip Irrigation Systems

Mark Jolles
Former Director of Irrigation Sales // 13 Aug. 2017
Mark was with Amiad for 6 years.

One of the main goals when designing an irrigation system is to make sure that every single plant in your field gets exactly the right amount of water and nutrients from added fertilizers – also in the long-term.

All drip irrigation systems are designed to operate in a specific flow and pressure range. The flow rate through each emitter is directly related to the feed pressure, and proper operating pressure facilitates accurate distribution to emitters.

As feed pressure is increased, the water velocity within the pipes increases. The flow of water against the pipes creates an energy loss in the form of friction, and this causes a reduction in pressure. For this reason, as feed pressure and thus water velocity increases, there is a corresponding decrease in downstream pressure, which is called pressure loss.

A number of methods can be used to prevent pressure loss, including pressure regulation, the use of pumps, and filtration.

Pressure Regulation

Pressure regulators are installed to make sure that the feed pressure to an irrigation system remains constant even if the source pressure is fluctuating. Regulating water pressure ensures that your irrigation is delivering the right amount of water at the right time. Pressure regulators also help protect systems and components against damage by surges in water pressure. 

Regulating water pressure is also important for controlling energy and water use. Delivering water at the correct pressure eliminates wasted pumping costs and ensures that the irrigation device will deliver the correct volume of water the crops being grown.    


There are instances when the existing water flow rate and pressure may not be adequate and a pump should be installed.

It is essential that you do your research and calculations before deciding on which pump is the best solution for your system.  If the incorrect pump is selected, this could influence the pump’s life-span and increase operating costs.  This also has an effect on the dependability of the irrigation system in its entirety. 


Proper filtration also helps to ensure that crops receive the correct amount of water and nutrients. Clogged emitters interrupt uniform distribution and a proper filtration solution can keep the drip irrigation system clean and prevent emitter clogging.

To summarize, maintaining the correct pressure and flow in your irrigation system is essential.  There are several methods that can prevent pressure loss and all are relatively easy to obtain, install and maintain.

Keeping your system running smoothly will ensure that each and every plant gets the right amount of water and nutrients exactly when needed.

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