The world’s water supply has been greatly affected by factors ranging from the growing population and developing economies to climate change. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service has made it clear that water is one of the top, if not the most important, resource for agriculture and horticulture industries. Companies, advocacy groups and governments are re-examining traditional methods and seeking new solutions to help make the most of the world’s water supply.

One major factor in the water scarcity issue is irrigation. According to the USDA, irrigated farms account for nearly 40%, or $118.5 billion, of the value of the country’s agricultural production. In 2007, there were nearly 57 million acres of irrigated lands in the U.S. With water resources needed to irrigate such a massive area, the technologies and methods used to water crops play a major role in how a country manages its water supply.

Traditional agricultural irrigation methods, such as center pivots, lateral moves and sprinkler irrigation, use high pressure systems to flush water onto crops. These methods require a lot of energy and in many cases, use more water than needed. While farmers may see positive results, traditional irrigation methods can also lead to overwatering, which contributes to crop diseases, poor crop yield, evaporation and run-off.

Micro irrigation, also known as drip irrigation, is an economical and proven technology that transports the optimal amount of water and necessary nutrients through plastic pipes directly to a crop’s roots. The system offers a variety of benefits for farmers seeking cost-cutting measures is a means to conserve water and better maintains plants for healthy crop yields. Additionally, micro irrigation requires less maintenance over its lifetime when compared to center pivots.

Globally, agriculture accounts for 70% of freshwater consumption and on average, 42% of total water abstraction in Europe is used for agriculture, reports the European Union’s 2010 edition of the Eurostat Statistics and Accounts in Europe “Environmental Statistics and Accounts in Europe.” Using micro irrigation over traditional methods helps farmers conserve precious water resources and could contribute to cost savings in the long run. The plastic resins used to create long-lasting, high-quality irrigation products help improve the system’s strength and durability, resulting in pipes that withstand handling, installation and almost anything Mother Nature may have in store for them.

Drip irrigation systems made with polyethylene resins can create some of the finest quality, longest-lasting tubing and tape in the micro irrigation industry. Dow FINGERPRINT polyethylene resins are reliable, high-performing resins that demonstrate significant dart impact resistance, good processability, tensile strength and toughness. A micro irrigation system made with high performance products could potentially lower maintenance costs and minimize water loss for farmers. A tube and tape micro irrigation system made with FINGERPRINT provides benefits like flexural toughness, environmental stress crack resistance (ESCR), slow crack growth (SCG) resistance, impact and puncture resistance, burst strength, and increased life cycle.

Dow’s polyethylene resins have been developed with specific properties in mind for micro irrigation applications in agriculture and landscaping industries.