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Soil cut-away to expose drip line in tomato field

Trickle-L Group Offers Online Expertise to Growers, Gardeners

By Marcia Wood
May 27, 1997

Growers and gardeners with questions about drip irrigation can turn to an Internet discussion group called Trickle-L for fast help.

Trickle-L was launched in 1994 by the Agricultural Research Service’s Water Management Research Laboratory in Fresno, Calif. Today, Trickle-L links about 500 scientists, farmers, golf course managers, irrigation equipment manufacturers and others interested in drip irrigation. Sometimes called trickle irrigation or micro-irrigation, drip irrigation systems rely on tiny sprayers to deliver precise amounts of water to plants.

Using Trickle-L, a gardener might pose a question such as how to stop gophers from gnawing on the buried tubing of an underground drip irrigation system. Replies could be on their way to the user within hours from Trickle-L participants throughout the United States or in any of about two dozen foreign countries. By providing ARS researchers with an up-to-the-minute look at concerns of drip-irrigation users, Trickle-L gives the scientists insights on potential research gaps.

Drip irrigation often helps home gardeners reduce their water bills or avoid problems caused when water from their yards sprays neighboring homes, fences, streets or sidewalks. Frequently, drip irrigation results in bigger yields and greater profits to growers. These increased profits help offset installation and maintenance costs, which usually are higher than for options such as overhead sprinklers or furrow systems. Compared to these systems, however, drip irrigation offers much more precise delivery of water and fertilizer or other chemicals to plants. It can prevent over- watering, excess use of chemicals and unwanted leaching into the underground water supply.

There's no cost to join Trickle-L, other than the expense of an Internet connection with e-mail. For more details, see the story in the May 1997 Agricultural Research, ARS' monthly journal. The story also is on the World Wide Web at:


Scientific contact: Thomas J. Trout, USDA-ARS Water Management Research Laboratory, 2021 S. Peach Ave., Fresno, CA 93727, phone (209) 453-3101, fax 453-3211,