Reasons to choose self-compensating drippers in irrigation

Water technology goes further and further seeking the maximum optimization of this precious asset. This has made that we can see real images of crops growing in the middle of the desert. And is that every drop counts.

The management of irrigation water is one of the most conditioning factors in the development of a plant, even above the management of nutrition. For this reason, choosing a good irrigation system with self-compensating drippers is, today, almost an obligation against turbulent drippers .

In this article we are going to make a brief guide to the parts of a drip irrigation system , very common in any garden, as well as the recommendations that we advise to choose the best parts and drippers to optimize irrigation water.


The modern gardens of country houses, chalets or townhouses already incorporate small irrigation equipment, and even more when they have some surface with grass.

Even having a small surface (even below 500 m2), it is interesting to have a small drip irrigation system with basic parts. Its cost is not very high and it allows automation in the supply of water, something very interesting if we usually travel for several days.

Read more: how to maintain and take care of your irrigation system

In fact, even without traveling, it is very comfortable to know that you have scheduled irrigation and you don’t have to do anything else. Compared to the classic alternative of hose or shower irrigation, drip or sprinkler irrigation is imposed for convenience and efficiency.

The basic components of this system are the following:

  • Irrigation programmer: the thinking head and the automaton that allows controlling the start and end of irrigation, modulating the time and sectors, in the case of large gardens.
  • Filters: prevent the passage of dirt, lime, sand or organic matter through the pipes that cause clogging in the drippers ( more information ).
  • Pressure reducers:  regulate the force or pressure of the water to prevent the drippers from jumping out of the pipe due to excess pressure.
  • Pipes: the water transport route, generally made of resistant black polyethylene with a diameter of 16 mm.
  • Connecting pieces:  components that connect to pipes to allow turns, elbows, links between them, or connections with valves or pipe closures.
  • Drippers:  the protagonist of this article and the one that allows the water to exit by controlling the pressure and flow (especially through the self-compensating drippers).


In the market we can find several alternatives that are perfectly adapted to the type of garden and plants that we have in it. Common sense tells us that if we have planted grass or carpet species, the best alternative is to promote a complete wet bulb where the entire surface is equally watered in its entirety. An alternative would be sprinkler irrigation.

Read more:  7 problems and solutions of drip irrigation

Therefore, in the market we find the following dripper alternatives:


Turbulent drippers vary the flow rate (L / h) as a function of the water pressure. For this reason, they are currently the least recommended since there is a lot of heterogeneity in the irrigation and volume provided if the pipes are long or there are slopes in the land.

They are usually the cheapest and we find 2 types:

  • Turbulent Button Droppers: You place them where you want by making a small hole in the pipe.
  • Integrated turbulent drippers: they  are incorporated into the pipe, always separated by a fixed distance between dripper and dripper.


Self-compensating drippers are the most recommended today, since they provide the same flow regardless of the outlet pressure in the pipe.

If said pipe does not reach the minimum pressure, there will be no water outlet in any dripper. On the other hand, from a minimum pressure to a maximum value, the amount of water that comes out of the self-compensating drippers will always be the same.

Likewise, we find 2 types of self-compensating drippers:

  • Button self-compensating droppers:  you place them where you want by making a small hole in the pipe.
  • Integrated self-compensating drippers: they  are incorporated in the pipe, always separated by a fixed distance between dripper and dripper.

In the home garden, button droppers are recommended when you do not yet know where to place them and will vary depending on the number of plants or the area. The problem is that you cannot be removing and replacing the buttons and putting in plugs, as it encourages the loss of pressure in the pipe.

On the other hand, for areas where you grow carpet species, grass or defined lines of plants, you can use the integrated drippers, with greater ease of installation and the generation of a much more homogeneous wet bulb.


This type of dripper allows you to increase or decrease the flow of water as you please. Generally the button allows rotation to allow from 3 or 4 L / h to even 60 L / h.

They are very interesting in garden spaces with high crop rotation . For example, in summer with horticultural plants, in autumn planting bulbs, with cover plants, etc.

Read more:  guide to efficient use of irrigation water


Historically, drippers that only consisted of a small filter and a small opening have always been used to control the water outlet.

However, the final flow was totally dependent on the water pressure. High pressures promoted a greater volume of water, so it was common for the plants located at the beginning of the pipe (higher pressure) to have a greater development than the last ones in the dripper line (lower pressure).

In this case we are talking about turbulent drippers, a real disaster in terms of optimization and homogenization of irrigation.

Some of the important advantages of self-compensating drippers over (traditional) turbulent ones are the following:

  • They always allow the same water output, regardless of the pressure, slope or altitude of the dripper.
  • Provides excellent response in long pipeline conditions.
  • They have a longer service life than turbulent ones, as they resist pressure changes better and accumulate less dirt.
  • By preventing low-pressure water leakage, they optimize water use and allow significant savings.
  • The crops grow homogeneously when receiving the same amount of water.

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