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7 effective greenhouse irrigation methods

7 effective greenhouse irrigation methods

Irrigation is one of the most important controllable aspects of growing crops and can have a major impact on the quality of the crop. So, how to decide which irrigation system best suits our needs in 7 effective greenhouse irrigation methods? The answer is not always simple and will depend on a number of factors: crop type, climate, labor, initial investment, growing medium and type of soil, container size… Here are some pros and cons of some of the most popular greenhouse irrigation systems to help you make the right choice.


  1. Manual watering – traditional

7 effective greenhouse watering methods - 1. hand wateringAdvantages of manual irrigation for greenhouse plants.

  • Low initial investment (inexpensive equipment)
  • Choose to irrigate each area, each stump (put the sprinkler to each area)
  • Good opportunity to check the crops, watering and observing the plants at the same time

Disadvantages of manual irrigation

  • May be ineffective and uneven; Requires training and experience;
  • Time consuming (more labor);
  • Difficulty keeping foliage and flowers dry (some plants require keeping leaves and flowers dry while roots still need water)
  • Can have an impact on soil structure, if not regulated properly will break potting soil, uproot or seed
  • Can cause water waste and difficult to fertilize evenly;
  • Cannot be automated.

Do not forget

  • Inspect plants before watering; Feel the need to water more or less. Check the current humidity of the substrate. However, it’s also not just about making decisions based on quick visual checks;
  • Avoid overwatering the potting medium or using a high-pressure nozzle as it disrupts the structure of the soil; some types of media will move to the top while fine particles will settle to the bottom of the container, reducing overall drainage and affecting the depletion cycle;
  • Flush before watering to ensure the right amount of water or fertilizer solution is applied on all crops;
  • Make sure that the device and nozzle are adjusted to get the right flow and droplet size for the crop type and container size.

2. Irrigation nozzles and fine-grained nozzles

7 effective greenhouse irrigation methods - 2. sprinklersAdvantages of irrigation for greenhouses

  • Can be timed and automated;
  • Can be used for a specific crop where low air humidity is an issue;
  • Can be used to influence the microclimate around trees and canopy;
  • The initial investment capital is medium to low.

Disadvantages of irrigation for greenhouses

  • Less efficient and wasteful if not managed properly;
  • Uniformity can be a challenge;
  • Low efficiency on dense tree canopy (can lead to excessive water flow).

3. Drip irrigation for greenhouse plants

7 effective greenhouse irrigation methods - 3. drip irrigation

Advantages of drip irrigation for greenhouses

  • Can be automated and programmed based on various inputs;
  • Dry canopy (reduces the incidence of foliar diseases);
  • Irrigation water evenly distributed in the bag of media:
    Precise water volume can be applied to reduce water usage;
  • Water can be collected, treated and reused (using a water trough)

Disadvantages of drip irrigation for greenhouses

  • Medium to high investment;
  • Water distribution can be problematic if the potting medium is too dry or the dripper is not properly positioned;
  • Cleaning and maintaining the system can be a challenge;
  • Additional investment is required to collect, treat and reuse water (Gutters, collection ponds, filtration systems, UV systems,…);
  • If the water runoff from the media bags is not collected, a lot of water can be wasted.

4. Moving watering for each block

7 effective greenhouse irrigation methods - 4. pulley irrigation


  • Reduce labor costs;
  • Can be programmed and automated;
  • Can be used to apply different types of products;
  • Can be used as a spray;
  • Even canopy coverage;
  • Great choice for large scale production.


  • High initial investment capital;
  • Only possible for certain types of greenhouses;
  • For better results, a trained operator is required to adjust equipment and perform operational maintenance;
  • Difficult to manage with different plant plots smaller at different growth stages.

5. Underground irrigation for hydroponic systems

7 effective greenhouse irrigation methods - 5. underground trough irrigation


  • Positive effect on the evenness and moisture content of the soil;
  • Can be applied to different growing systems;
  • Water is often collected and recycled, which greatly reduces the amount of wastewater;
  • Can be used for a wide range of plant species and container sizes;
  • The canopy and foliage remain dry.


  • Medium to high initial investment capital;
  • May create salt build-up in the media (it is not possible to flush the mixture through this system);
  • Generates a lot of wastewater if not collected;
  • Requires hydroponic media with good moisture conductivity (capillary), but also sufficient drainage;
  • If the water source is contaminated, the disease will spread quickly;
  • An efficient water treatment system must be in place to safely reuse water.

6. NFT – Nutrient Film Technology (for hydroponic systems)

7 effective greenhouse irrigation methods - 6. permeable film irrigation


  • Water is always in motion (improves dissolved oxygen (DO2) content);
  • Water can be reused and recycled;
  • The system is usually programmed and automated;
  • Reduce water usage as it runs through the system in a loop.


  • High initial investment capital;
  • Should be managed by qualified operator;
  • Small error prevention (roots in direct contact);
  • Requires a climate controlled environment;
  • It is difficult to control pathogens because they can spread quickly.

7. Mist irrigation for greenhouses

7 effective greenhouse irrigation methods - 7. misting irrigation

Advantages of greenhouse misting irrigation

  • The ability to irrigate large volumes of water even though very small dew drops;
  • The most suitable choice for seeding, rooting;
  • Effectively affects the air humidity and climate in the greenhouse/growing area.

Cons of sprinkler irrigation for greenhouses

  • Medium to high initial investment capital;
  • Requires a high purity filtration system;
  • High voltage lines must be installed.

No matter which irrigation system you choose from these 7 effective greenhouse irrigation methods, preventive maintenance is always recommended. Make appropriate adjustments when transitioning through different seasons, crops, and growth cycles. Be proactive and implement best practices to ensure your plants grow healthy.

Emilia Chaney
Emilia Chaneyhttps://agrisearch.net
My name is Emilia Chaney. I'm a social girl from Romania with a big smile and 3 passions: Agriculture, Travel and Social Media. I try to make this blog practical, full of great advice and inspiring ideas.

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