Archive for the ‘Helpful Tips’ Category

Preparing Drip For Winter

Winterizing Irrigation Systems
By scheduling a winterizing program, you will ensure the life of the watering system and head off any potential start-up problems in the spring. Winterizing is accomplished by properly draining the system before the onset of frost and snow in order to prevent the expansion of water left in the system – and the subsequent cracking of irrigation lines.

Here are several tips to preparing a system for winter, depending on the type of irrigation installed:


Hay Baler Used to Roll Up Plastic After Harvest

A standard hay baler can compress plastic used for growing vegetables into a 4-feet by 5-feet ball, saving growers money in labor and disposal costs.

Ron Goldy, Michigan State University Southwest district vegetable agent, piqued the interest of growers after he showed them baling techniques at six different farms in Southwest Michigan including a demonstration on Sept, 20.

When it comes time to discard the plastic, vegetable growers who use plastic face disposal costs of $300-$350 per large construction bin. Goldy said 270 pounds of plastic are used per acre. With 3,000 acres of plastic used in Michigan that’s 810,000 pounds of plastic. Typically a grower piles up the plastic and loads it onto a construction bin before it is taken to a landfill. With the baler growers can compress four to five acres of plastic into a bale that they can lift with a forklift.


Rule of thumb: Be able to deliver at least one acre inch of water per week to the root system of the plants.

One Acre Inch of Water is approximately 27,000 Gallons.

For orchards with one or two emitters per tree that have been grower installed into polyethylene trickle tubing, the formula for calculating the number of hours of irrigation per week that is necessary to apply an acre inch of water is as follows:


Drip Chemigation: Acid

Acid Injection
Mineral precipitates can form deposits (scale) that clog emitters. The most common deposits are calcium or magnesium carbonates and iron oxides. Since precipitation occurs more readily in water with a high pH (above 7.0), precipitation of these compounds can be prevented by continuous injection (whenever the system is operating) of a small amount of acid to maintain water pH just below 7.0.


NETAFIM – Successful Drip Irrigation Systems


Netafim’s integral drippers are injection molded using state-of-the-art precision machinery. This enables Netafim to produce drippers with the widest and shortest water passages on the market.

Each integral dripper includes a precision molded filter. The position of the filter ensures that water is not drawn from the wall of the lateral, where sediment is most likely to form. Both of these unique features – the size and shape of the water passage, and the integral filter – combine with the high turbulence of the special patented dripper teeth to make Netafim USA drippers highly resistant to clogging.

Independent studies have shown that Netafim’s integral drippers are by far the most clog resistant dripperlines available in the world.


Roberts Irrigation RO-DRIP® User Manual


An ongoing commitment to tradition, integrity, and innovation have made Roberts Irrigation Products one of the world’s leading producers of micro and drip irrigation products, including RO-DRIP and RO-DRIP XL drip irrigation tapes. We have spent enough time in the field to recognize the practical needs of row crop growers like you, and have applied the latest precision manufacturing methods to produce a drip tape system that meets these needs.

Our RO-DRIP and RO-DRIP XL drip tapes represent the practical application of today’s latest technologies to the long-felt needs of growers. Throughout this manual you will find short captions titled “The Roberts Difference” located in the margins of each section. These captions describe some of the unique benefits of RO-DRIP products for drip irrigation users.


A Systematic Approach to Optimizing SDI Operation and Maintenance

Abstract: An SDI system represents a significant investment which can reap substantial benefits if managed properly. Assuming system selection, design and installation were appropriate, proactive operation and maintenance techniques should be adopted to optimize SDI system performance. The discussion will focus on systematically addressing five critical Operation and Maintenance topics, and will draw upon both old and important new information recently published by leading universities, associations and companies..

The topics include:

  1. Establish baseline readings
  2. Monitor key system operating parameters
  3. Perform key maintenance activities routinely
  4. Apply fertilizers and chemicals properly
  5. Schedule irrigations strategically.

Data from these activities should be collected and organized such that trends may be monitored and adjustments in technique or frequency be made as necessary to optimize system and crop performance. Mastery of these and more advanced topics will very likely reap substantial increases in profitability, reduction of resource use, and sustainable success.


Summer Drip Irrigation System Maintenance

Summer is the time for many things, including drip irrigation system maintenance. Many drip systems have adequate filtration, chemical injection and flushing capabilities, but extra attention and diligence may be required this season. This is because growers are reporting that water and fertilizer quality is worse than ever before, creating a challenge for even the most experienced drip irrigators.

The attached document, “A Systematic Approach to Optimizing SDI Operation and Maintenance” was recently presented at the ASABE meeting in Reno and may be helpful. It provides information on several important topics and serves as a reminder that irrigators should:

  1. Routinely monitor system pressures and flows and compare them with target readings. If pressure or flow is too high or too low, several different problems may be occurring, such as leaks or clogging. Use the System Troubleshooting Guide on page five if the cause is not readily apparent.
  2. Apply maintenance chemicals if warranted to control pH and/or to control organic matter. Remember that pH control is especially important if chlorine is injected – at higher pH it is not effective. See page nine for a list of problems and treatment options.
  3. Flush the system at a high enough velocity and long enough duration to cleanse sub mains and laterals of debris. Flushing inlet pressures and flows may be significantly different than normal irrigation pressures and flows – refer to the charts on page 13-15 for guidance. Inadequate flushing will waste time and resources, create a false sense of security, and may lead to clogging that could have been prevented.
  4. Control pests such as insects or rodents that damage drip lines and electrical wires. Many strategies are presented on page 15, and excellent pictures are available in the second attached document, “Diagnosing and Avoiding Damage to Drip Tape” prepared for the Irrigation Association by the Irrigation Training and Research Center, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
  5. Apply fertilizers properly by injecting upstream of the filter, and performing a jar test prior to injection to insure compatibility with the water source and other fertilizers. In addition, refer to the Fertilizer Compatibility Chart on page 19 for an indication of whether certain combinations will create clogging problems. Fertilizer quality can change from year to year, and even batch to batch. Checking compatibility cannot be over emphasized!

Every situation is different, so it’s not unusual to need help. Give Toro’s staff a call if you’d like to discuss system maintenance, or
any other irrigation related topics – we look forward to your call.


Diagnosing and Avoiding Damage to Drip Tape

The evolution of drip tape materials, drip tape emitter pathways, and hardware to connect, install, and remove/retrieve drip tape has been nothing short of phenomenal since the early drip tape days of the 1970’s. Drip tape has been successfully used on millions of acres of cropland, often with exceptional savings in water and improvements in crop quality and yields.

A major advantage of using tape materials, as compared to harder wall hose and emitters, is a low price per foot. But this tremendous advantage brings with it a higher sensitivity to physical damage. Precautions must also be taken to minimize problems with plugging  the relatively small flow passageways of the emitters. This is not to say that problems will unavoidably occur with drip tape – but problems have occurred and they are often misunderstood or misdiagnosed.



Chlorine treatment for controlling algae, and/ or other organic buildup in drip tubing and emitters.

Chlorine is an effective treatment to kill or control algae and other organic buildup and is commonly used as an additive in municipal drinking water, swimming pools, hot tubs, etc. In small quantities there is minimal harm to humans, animals or plants. Quantities of chlorine exceeding 50ppm (parts per million) are toxic to plants, so reasonable care should be taken in how chlorine is used.