Application of the DIDAS program for the design and scheduling of drip irrigation

S.P. Friedman, G. Communar, A. Gamliel
The DIDAS software package assists in drip-irrigation system design and irrigation scheduling. It is based on analytical solutions of the linearized water flow equation. The problem of water flow and uptake is described by superposing solutions for positive sources (on-surface or subsurface emitters) and negative sinks (root systems). Steady water flow is assumed in the design module and unsteady flow in the irrigation-scheduling module. The design tool, based on the relative water-uptake rate (RWUR) criterion, assesses the effects on water-use efficiency of geometrical attributes: distances between emitters along drip lines, separation between drip lines, depth of subsurface emitters, and size and depth of root systems. For design purposes, it is assumed that there is no plant-atmosphere resistance to water uptake, i.e., roots are assumed to apply maximum suction and water-uptake rate depends only on the soil's ability to conduct water from sources to sinks. The RWUR computations require only three parameters describing soil texture, root-zone size, and potential evaporation. The optimizing tool for irrigation scheduling is based on a relative water-uptake volume (RWUV) criterion. The RWUV computations for a given drip-irrigation design require additional information on the diurnal pattern of plant resistance to water uptake and soil hydraulic conductivity. DIDAS also contains a diurnal pattern module to evaluate diurnal water-uptake patterns; it assumes quasi-steady flow, accounts for diurnal variations in plant-atmosphere resistance and evaporation, and serves for fine-tuning the design and in preliminary evaluation of scheduling scenarios. DIDAS was programmed in Delphi, runs on a PC under the Windows operating system, and requires no further software. The drip-irrigation scenario is constructed via a few GUI windows, which also contain a library of the required soil input parameters, and a best-fitting procedure to determine them. The computed RWURs and RWUVs are displayed graphically and the tabulated output results can be exported to, e.g., Microsoft Excel for further processing. An updated DIDAS version can be downloaded freely from From March 2014 through July 2016, 877 people from 94 countries downloaded the first or second DIDAS versions (1.0.1 and 1.1.1, respectively). We briefly introduce drip irrigation and other available programs for its design and scheduling, outline the major DIDAS concepts, and illustrate the operation of the main software modules.
Friedman, S.P., Communar, G. and Gamliel, A. (2017). Application of the DIDAS program for the design and scheduling of drip irrigation. Acta Hortic. 1182, 15-30
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2017.1182.2
water-use efficiency, water flow and uptake, analytical solution, decision-support system

Acta Horticulturae