Farming is a genteel pastime in ARK Survival Evolved, but it also brings a host of benefits to your tribe. One of the most important aspects of a farming setup is your irrigation system.
If done correctly, your crops will be watered without any further action once it is complete. You’ll have a steady supply of crops to create advanced recipes and crafts.
What is Irrigation in ARK?
An irrigation system is a setup that consists of an intake, pipes, and a tap. Once placed properly, it delivers water from a river, lake, or ocean and transports it to your base. The tricky part of setting up irrigation is making the pipes connect so that the water flows freely through them.
What Are the Parts of the Irrigation System?
There are four critical components to consider for your irrigation needs.
The water source is one of the most important aspects because it is where the pipes get the water. Before building pipes, consider how far the source is from your garden or base. Think about how many pipes you might need and whether there’s an incline to consider.
The intake is the part of the system that actually goes into the water. It’s different than the other pipes and necessary to start the process.
The pipes come in several different types and materials:
- Stone pipes are the weaker of the two types but can be accessed at level 17. They can’t be damaged by ranged attacks, lower-level weapons, or unarmed strikes. Many creatures also won’t damage it. They have the same attack stats as wooden structures.
- Metal pipes are the stronger of the two, but you can’t unlock them until level 40, and they are comparatively expensive to craft. Only explosive, tek weapons, and very high-level creatures can damage it.
Each type of piping is available in a few different styles to help you create a system that works for you no matter where your base is located.
- A straight pipe is exactly what it sounds like. It requires two metal ingots and one cementing paste to craft. These are probably the most common pipes players use to craft their systems. It has two connection points, one on each end.
- A flexible pipe extends and bends as you place it. There are two connection points, but you can guide it in your chosen direction. It requires the same materials as the straight pipe.
- A vertical pipe goes up and down. It can help you move water up even sheer cliff faces if necessary.
- An inclined pipe looks like a straight pipe with a diagonal slant. It’s designed to help you create a pipe network that goes uphill. It requires four metal ingots and two cementing pastes to craft.
- An intersection pipe looks like a cross. It has an input on each end. You put your input pipe from the water source into one opening, and then the other three openings become active for new pipes to connect to.
It helps you increase the number of taps without creating an entirely new irrigation system for each area you want to irrigate. It requires six metal ingots and three cementing pastes to craft.
The tap is the endpoint of the irrigation system. It is where the water freely pours out once the system is working properly. It cannot be obstructed, or else it will cease to function. Taps can be used for more than just watering crops. You can fill water containers or drink directly from them too.
How to Choose a Location for Irrigation
There are a few different ways to set up an irrigation system – and it’s something you should think about from the beginning when you decide on a location for your farming base.
A body of water like the ocean is the most accessible place to set it up. The ground nearby is generally even, and there isn’t a significant incline if you’re set up close to the water’s edge.
You can also choose a stream or other smaller water source. These might be placed nearer your base and can provide the same benefits. The only thing that makes them more tricky is that the terrain can make setting up a clean series of pipes difficult.
Some people choose to use water barrels as the primary intake location for their irrigation system. These must be refilled and may not deliver the same amount of reliable water as natural water sources. However, they are a viable choice in hostile or dry environments to get something set up to water your crops.
How to Create an Irrigation System in ARK
You need to craft, plan, place, and test your pipeline to create your system. Sometimes pipes may look connected but are not actually in the correct position to move water between them.
- Decide on your water source. If you’re going to use a natural body of water, choose a point to place your intake pipe that is optimal. It won’t always be the closest place to your base.
For example, I once had to create an irrigation system that led to a base on a hill. The nearest point to the base had a strange incline and some natural barriers that would have made it harder to place the pipe.
Instead, I ran it straight across the field and up the cliffs, then over to the base from the top point. Walk the path you’re considering for your pipes a few times. Look for any high-level carnivores who might attack and damage the pipes, too – that is an important consideration.
- Prepare to craft your intake, pipes, tap, and water barrel, if necessary. You will need to gather cementing paste and metal ingots or just stone if using stone pipes. Also, stone pipes can be made right from your personal crafting menu. Metal pipes must be made in the Smithy or Tek Replicator.
It can also be crafted in the saddles of certain tames, including the Argentavis and the Castoroides. Make an input, a tap, and a few straight pipes to get an idea of how much you’ll need.
- Place your intake pipe into the water. It actually needs to go under the surface.
- Connect a straight pipe to the other side of the intake. You should see them connect. If the pipe outline is red before you lie it down, you won’t be able to place it in that spot. Once you have a pipe connected and see the length, you’ll have a better idea of how many you’ll need to finish your system.
- Plot a course. Determine where you’ll need to change direction and make intersection or flexible pipes for those locations. Find inclines and make inclined pipes to help the water move up or down.
- Continue connecting the pipes from the water source to the space you’re planning to irrigate. Pipes can go through walls, so you don’t have to have an opening that’s always available to irrigate inside a building like a greenhouse.
- Place the taps on the pipes over the area you want to irrigate. After a moment, you should see the water begin to pour from the pipes if they’re all connected.
Creating an irrigation system really is just that simple! However, there are a few other things to consider.
Other Irrigation Considerations
Many players report that you can put pipes underground as long as you can successfully snap them. I’ve personally never had luck with this, but it’s worth trying to see whether you can make it work. If it gets too frustrating, though, run them aboveground. They aren’t always the best-looking part of your ARK setup, but they’re necessary and serve a purpose.
You can briefly attach a tap to any pipe to ensure that your irrigation system functions. If water comes from the tap, all the pipes up to that point are connected.
Consider running pipes down along the floor or up in the ceiling. I particularly like to line a greenhouse roof with intersection pipes because I can attach taps to them at two locations and water many crops at once. Since they snap together, you can create a grid with them. Place crop plots on the ground and check to see whether they’re watered or not by looking at the status when you hover over them. If not, you’ll need to install a tap more closely.
Some players recommend just leaving the crop plots outside and letting the rain irrigate them in safe areas. One problem with this is that you lose out on the Greenhouse Effect bonus when you grow crops in a place without greenhouse walls and ceilings. They increase the growth rate and can help you get crops much more quickly.
While using rain to irrigate early in the game isn’t bad, tribes that are more serious about farming will definitely want to set up an irrigation system.
If you decide to build a water reservoir, consider choosing metal over the standard item. It holds more and can take more damage. Many people incorporate water reservoirs into their irrigation systems because they refill when it’s raining and are helpful for bases that are very far from the ocean.
Metal water reservoirs can hold 500 water. The standard water reservoir can only hold 200. You can refill them with water containers but can’t fill water containers from either reservoir.