I've installed a couple drip irrigation setups in the past, always with drip emitters. Recently, my neighbor converted one of his sprinkler zones to drip. The way he did it I'm wondering what the benefit is, as it seems to be violating the "spirit" of drip irrigation. I guess this is sort of a philosophical question.
What he did is he took part of a standard sprinkler zone and converted just that part to drip. He connected 1/2" tubing to a sprinkler riser, ran the tubing around each plant, and tapped a bubbler into the tubing by each plant. I'm not even sure if he used a pressure reducer, and for the water filter he is using whatever screen is built in to the sprinkler-to-drip-tubing adapter.
That zone turns on for under ten minutes at a time, which my drip experience tells me is far too little (I'd expect at least an hour) -- but the bubblers put out so much water that it actually pools up around the plant. There are also a few micro sprinklers on the zone which water some larger areas.
So in a nutshell, it all works, in that the plants are thriving. But the purpose of this installation was to cut down on the water bill. Could a drip system used in this manner save water over standard spray sprinklers?
As a separate question, I'm not very familiar with micro sprinklers, but in general do they save very much water over standard high-volume sprinklers? It seems that they still spray water into the air, so you'd still have evaporation. The volume of water is lower, but micros run for longer. What do you think?
The advantage of drip is that it can put water exactly where..and ONLY where it is needed, right at the root zone of plants. So you avoid putting a lot of water on mulch or other areas which just need no water at all. It also eliminates overspray common with sprinklers, no matter how carefully you lay out the heads.
It is not a good idea to mix drip on sprinkler zones, due to the timing issue as you mentioned, but multitube take offs , etc, can still make this better than sprinkling.
Micro sprinklers are good for small turf or ground cover areas which need broadcast water, but not too much.