A 2020 vision of subsurface drip irrigation in the U.S.

Freddie R. Lamm, Paul D. Colaizzi, Ronald B. Sorensen, James P. Bordovsky, Mark Dougherty, Kris Balkcom, Daniele Zaccaria, Khaled M. Bali, Daran R. Rudnick, R. Troy Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) offers several advantages over alternative irrigation systems when it is designed and installed correctly and when best management practices are adopted. These advantages include the ability to apply water and nutrients directly and efficiently within the crop root zone. Disadvantages of SDI in commercial agriculture relative to alternative irrigation systems include greater capital cost per unit land area (except for small land parcels), unfamiliar management and maintenance protocols that can exacerbate the potential for emitter clogging, the visibility of system attributes (components and design characteristics) and performance, and the susceptibility to damage (i.e., rodents and tillage) of the subsurface driplines. Despite these disadvantages, SDI continues to be adopted in commercial agriculture in the U.S., and research efforts to evaluate and develop SDI systems continue as well. This article summarizes recent progress in research (2010 to 2020) and the status of commercial adoption of SDI, along with a discussion of current challenges and future opportunities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1319-1343
Number of pages25
JournalTransactions of the ASABE
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021


  • Drip irrigation
  • Irrigation
  • Irrigation systems
  • Microirrigation
  • SDI
  • Water management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Food Science
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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