Subsurface Drip Irrigation involves burying the drip irrigation line permanently in a field below the tillage layer. The depth and spacing will depend on the type of crop that is intended to be grown. The initial cost can be $1000- $2000 per acre depending on the size of the field but can last 20 years plus with proper maintenance. Much of the research on SDI has been in Kansas, Nebraska and Texas were water for irrigation is in short supply. Like drip irrigation installed at the surface, SDI can reduce water use by 50% but adds some challenges in that the drip lines are not visible to inspect for plugged emitters and damage. Since the soil surface will rarely show wetness, soil moisture monitoring will be needed to provide data on the results of water applications.
The following fact sheets and web pages should provide a well rounded understanding of the advantages and challenges with SDI.
Subsurface Drip Irrigation in the Great Plains, Kansas State University.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Subsurface Drip Irrigation, 2002. F.R. Lamm, Kansas State University.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Subsurface Drip Irrigation, J.O. Payero, C.D. Yonts, S. Irmak, D. Tarkalson, Bulletin EC776, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, 2005.
Subsurface Drip Irrigation, D. Reich, R. Godin, J.L. Chávez, I. Broner, Bulletin 4.716, Colorado State University Extension, 2014
SDI for Corn Production – A Brief Review of 25 Years of KSU Research, F.R. Lamm, D.H. Rogers, Proceedings of the 26th Central Plains Irrigation Conference, 2014.
K-State Center Pivot Sprinkler and SDI Economic Comparison Spreadsheet, F.R. Lamm, D.M. O’Brien, D.H. Rogers, Proceedings of the 26th Central Plains Irrigation Conference, 2015. Link to Spreadsheet under CP_SDI15
SDI Applications in Kansas and the US, J. Aguilar, D.H. Rogers, I. Kisekka, F.R. Lamm, Proceedings of the 26th Central Plains Irrigation Conference, 2015.
Frequently and Not-So-Frenquently Asked Questions About Subsurface Irrigation, F.R. Lamm, D.H. Rogers, Proceedings of the 26th Central Plains Irrigation Conference, 2015.
SDI, The Basics of Successful Systems, F.R. Lamm, D.H. Rogers, Proceedings of the 26th Central Plains Irrigation Conference, 2012.
Considerations for Subsurface Drip Irrigation Application in Humid and Sub-humid Areas, M.D. Dukes, D.Z. Haman, R.O. Evans, G.L. Grabow, K. HArrison, A. Khalilian, W.B. Smith, D.S. Ross, P. Tacker, D.L. Thomas, R.B. Sorensen, E. Voriess, H. Zhu, Bulletin 903, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, 2013
Design and Installation
Installing a Subsurface Drip Irrigation System for Row Crops, J. Enciso, Bulletin, B-6151, Texas A&M University Extension, 2004.
Design Considerations for Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI) Systems, F. R. Lamm, D. H. Rogers, M. Alam, G. A. Clark, Kansas State Agricultural Experiment Station, 2003.
Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI) Components: Minimum Requirements, D.H. Rogers, F.R. Lamm, M. Alam, Bulletin MF-2576, Kansas State University Extension, 2003.
Operation and Management
Management Considerations for Operating a Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI) System, F.R. Lamm, D.H. Rogers, M. Alam, G.A. Clark, Bulletin MF-2590, Kansas State University Extension, 2003.
Filtration and Maintenance considerations for Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI) Systems, M. Alam, T.P. Trooien, F.R. Lamm, D.H. Rogers, Bulletin MF-2561, Kansas State University Extension, 2002.
Soybean Production with SDI
Soybean root development Relative to Vegetative and Reproductive Phenology, 2012. J.A.Torrion, T.D. Setiyono, K.G. Cassman, R.B. Feruson, S.Irmak, J.E. Specht, Agronomy Journal, 104(6):1702- 1709.
Sunflowers, Soybean, and Grain Sorghum Crop Production as Affected by Dripline Depth, 2010. F.R. Lamm, A.A. Abou Kheira, T.P. Trooien, Applied Engineering in Agriculture, 26(5): 873-882.