Recommendations For Choosing The Right Irrigation System

Drip irrigation has typically been used in high-value fruit, nut, and vegetable crops. Recently, it has become popular in field crop applications, including corn/soybean rotations and alfalfa, cotton, and processing tomatoes. USDA’s recent Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey reported 3.76 million acres in the U.S. are under drip. This acreage is expected to be significantly higher in the 2013 report, which will be released this fall.

Drip is gaining in popularity because the systems are flexible and can accommodate diverse cropping and application demands. Systems consist of lateral pipes that emit water directly to the root zones of crops, and sub-main pipes that supply water to the laterals. For field and row crop applications, lateral and sub-main pipelines can be classified as seasonal or permanent. They are available in several configurations.

Pros And Cons Of Drip System Combinations
Lateral and sub-main components may be combined in different systems for various applications with relative pros and cons. When designing a drip system, factors to consider include crop germination and/or transplant setting, labor, system maintenance requirements, operational flexibility, initial cost, and annual operating cost.

Seasonal Laterals And Seasonal Sub-Mains
Pros: These systems are popular in crops like celery, onions, or strawberries. They may be used to germinate the crop, are portable, and have a low initial cost. Because they are expected to last only one season, they require moderate maintenance.

Cons: Labor is needed to move sub-mains and flush laterals. Plus, there are additional costs for lateral disposal and lateral replacement.

Permanent Laterals With Seasonal Sub-Mains
Pros:
Laterals can be used for years and yet the sub-mains are portable, making this system popular in processing tomato production. Initial system cost is higher compared to seasonal, portable laterals used on vegetable and strawberry crops since the permanent laterals need to be more robust. However, the submain costs are about the same since both are seasonal.

Cons: Lateral repairs are difficult, there may be a need for supplemental germination moisture, and there are heavier maintenance requirements as laterals are expected to last multiple seasons.

Permanent Laterals With Permanent Sub-Mains
Pros:
The advantages of systems with permanent laterals with permanent sub-mains (used for field crops) include multi-year use and amortization of both the laterals and sub-mains. Using permanent components also allows automated flushing and eliminates sub-main moving costs.

Cons: Drawbacks include difficult repairs, high maintenance requirements, the possible need for supplemental moisture for germination, and the need for winterization in cold climates. Initial costs are higher because the components must be durable for multiple-year use and the system must be trenched in.

Seasonal Laterals And Permanent Sub-Mains
Pros:
This combination is used in vegetable growing regions to avoid sub-main moving costs.

Cons: Sub-main repairs for these systems are more difficult, as is lateral replacement.

5 Components Of A Drip System

  1. Drip tape: a “line source” drip irrigation lateral product that incorporates a continuously produced flow path emission device into a thin- to medium-walled seamed or extruded tube.
  2. Flat emitter dripline: a “point-source” lateral product that incorporates injection-molded emitters into a thin- to medium-walled extruded tube.
  3. Oval hose: a sub-main pipe made from polyethylene that is flattened to an oval shape during production to simplify transportation.
  4. Layflat: a sub-main pipe made from flexible PVC that is coiled flat.
  5. PVC pipe: a rigid pipe available in various thicknesses and cut lengths.

Choosing The Right System 
Drip irrigation offers a number of benefits, but choosing the right system can be complex. Consult with reputable manufacturers and qualified dealers, for help determining the best combination of components for your specific conditions.

Source: Written by Inge Bisconer Technical Marketing & Sales Manager, Toro Micro-Irrigation. [email protected].

Topics:

Leave a Reply

Fruits Stories
Freeze protected peach trees in Florida
Citrus
January 19, 2017
New Technology Could Take Weather Intel to the Extreme for Farmers
Scientists aiming to make difficult climate-based production decisions easier for growers. Read More
Fruits
January 19, 2017
Funding Available to Improve Ag, Food Sciences Facilities at Land Grant Schools
USDA announces $18.9 million for ag education at 1890s land-grant colleges and universities. Read More
the sunset on a hot day
Citrus
January 18, 2017
NASA, NOAA Concur 2016 Was World’s Warmest Year on Record
For the third time in three years, the bar is raised on surface temperature statistics. Read More
Fruits
January 18, 2017
Spotted Wing Drosophila Control the Topic of Webinar
Research updates, recommendations to be presented on devastating pest. Read More
agriculture data graphic
Farm Management
January 17, 2017
Will Big Data Yield Big Returns for Farmers?
Modern tools of hort tech are ripe to inspire the next generation of productivity and profitability. Read More
Mobile technology farming
Citrus
January 17, 2017
The Future of Agriculture is in Your Hands — Literally [Opinion]
Can farmers actually reach the point of having too much information? Read More
Case IH autonomus tractor
Equipment
January 17, 2017
Agricultural Robots No Longer Science Fiction
New automated technologies could help specialty crop growers deal with labor crisis. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
January 19, 2017
Trump Taps Sonny Perdue for Secretary of…
Ag leaders applaud pick to head up USDA. Read More
Citrus
January 19, 2017
New York Representatives Introduce Bill …
Legislators say the move aligns the program in the department to better fit the needs of agriculture businesses. Read More
Citrus
January 19, 2017
New Technology Could Take Weather Intel …
Scientists aiming to make difficult climate-based production decisions easier for growers. Read More
Fruits
January 19, 2017
Funding Available to Improve Ag, Food Sc…
USDA announces $18.9 million for ag education at 1890s land-grant colleges and universities. Read More
Citrus
January 18, 2017
NASA, NOAA Concur 2016 Was World’s Warme…
For the third time in three years, the bar is raised on surface temperature statistics. Read More
Fruits
January 18, 2017
Spotted Wing Drosophila Control the Topi…
Research updates, recommendations to be presented on devastating pest. Read More
Farm Management
January 17, 2017
Will Big Data Yield Big Returns for Farm…
Modern tools of hort tech are ripe to inspire the next generation of productivity and profitability. Read More
Citrus
January 17, 2017
The Future of Agriculture is in Your Han…
Can farmers actually reach the point of having too much information? Read More
Equipment
January 17, 2017
Agricultural Robots No Longer Science Fi…
New automated technologies could help specialty crop growers deal with labor crisis. Read More
Citrus
January 16, 2017
First Bee in Continental U.S. Listed as …
Rusty patched bumble bee receives protection from activities that could cause it to go extinct. Read More
Fruits
January 16, 2017
Pollination Experts Host Webinar Series
Fruit and vegetable growers can prepare for spring by hearing about recent pollination research. Read More
Citrus
January 16, 2017
Precision Agriculture and Big Data Gaini…
Specialty crop adoption of hort tech to usher in new efficiencies and transparency. Read More
Crop Protection
January 16, 2017
Monsanto, NRGene Enter Agreement for Big…
Technology platform is designed to help Monsanto analyze, store, and mine its genomic data sets to enhance breeding and R&D opportunities. Read More
Citrus
January 15, 2017
New Transitional Certification Program t…
The program will be based on standards developed by the Organic Trade Association. Read More
Citrus
January 13, 2017
Vilsack Bids Fond Farewell in Early Exit…
With no clear-cut replacement in sight, U.S. agriculture secretary leaves one week before his term officially ends. Read More
Citrus
January 10, 2017
Was 2016 the Worst Weather Year Ever?
Near all-time records in average temperature and costly climate-related disasters make a strong case for dubious distinction. Read More
Farm Management
January 10, 2017
FSMA Training Available in Colorado
To be in compliance with the FDA’s Preventive Controls for Human Food rule, be sure farm personnel completes the required training. Read More
Farm Management
January 9, 2017
Fruit and Vegetable Sector Scores Winter…
15th annual Southeast Fruit & Vegetable Conference serves as port in the storm for growers, researchers, and industry vendors seeking to buy, sell, and learn. Read More