Drip irrigation allows growers the chance to conserve water, despite being more expensive.

“Most people use drip irrigation to conserve water,” said Steven Smith, president and owner of National Onion Inc., Las Cruces, N.M.

In the case of New Mexico, which is facing a severe drought, water conservation is becoming even more significant.

“It saves 40% to 50% of the water,” Smith said. “You only have to put water at the base of the root where the plant really needs it.”

Smith said the use of drip irrigation is growing.

“It’s been building for quite a while. It costs more money but it saves water and it’s more efficient,” he said.

In addition to water conservation, drip irrigation is considered by some to be more effective than surface irrigation, though that isn’t always the case.

“We do both drip and furrow irrigation, and we have fields on furrow that yield as much as the ones on drip. It depends more on the ground, and the salt content in the water,” said Charley Johnson, president of Charles Johnson Co., Las Cruces.