That is certainly a good question. While it does have advantages to other types of irrigation, it has many disadvantages as well. Some of the advantages include efficient water/ fertilizer use which is definitely very important, lower labor costs, and reduced energy costs. However, it has many disadvantages, the biggest of which is a high cost for instalation which would be difficult to put on the backs of farmers who many times don’t have the money to invest in the system. Also, compared to some other types of irrigation the drip system equipment doesn’t have as long of a life. Thus, it is a give and take. If the expense of installation can be justified by lower energy and labor costs when installed, it definitely wouldn’t be a bad idea to make it mandatory since it certainly is more eco friendly than other irrigation types. However, it would be unfair to ask farmers who generally are having a difficult time today anyway to spend money on something that they could do for cheaper. It would also be very difficult to get something through congress with lobbys like the American Farm Bureau.
I don’t think it’s a high priority at the moment in my region of the US. In the desert, however, water is precious. It would be better to make it mandatory there than it would be to make it mandatory in central Illinois. I think it should be mandatory there, and it’s frequently used anyway, but it’s not practical to tell everyone in the US that they can’t ever use sprinklers. Water shortage is just not a big enough issue yet.
It may be very difficult to make drip irrigation mandatory because it would be such a radical change.
One thing to consider is the cost and waste that may be involved in radically changing the irrigation system. What would we do with irrigation systems that are being used right now? The systems may end up in landfills or be set to the end of the field where they will rust and fall apart. This would also be bad for the environment and may be worse than trying to conserve water with the drip system. Weighing all of the impacts must be done.
It may be advisable to recommend that farmers switch to drip irrigation when they go to replace their current system because it breaks or is very old. It will take time to completely switch, but it will result in less waste.
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