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-   -   Drip Tape Irrigation (http://www.tomatoville.com/showthread.php?t=19953)

JackE September 17, 2011 04:57 PM

Drip Tape Irrigation
 
Because of the drought in Texas, we are switching from pond to well irrigation, and also lowering our acreage substantially. I have an old 2" well that has plenty of water - flow rate of about 12 gals/minute. We have installed an air compressor on this well, but no pump or anything else.

I want to irrigate as much as I can with drip tape, using this well. I know very little about drip tape, except that it has to have a filter, runs on low pressure and is permanently buried in the ground under each row. I only know what I have read and have never actually seen a piece of "drip tape".

Before investing a lot of money on developing this well/system further, I need to do my homework. Any advice, links or, especially, personal experience with drip tape, or similar systems, would be greatly appreciated. We will be running 100 ft rows and and can adjust our machinery to work over buried irrigation lines as necessary.

We have always had abundant water around here and could afford to waste it by running sprinklers and furrow irrigation, but those days seem to be over - not just this drought, but increasingly drier for some years.

Thanking y'all in advance. Lots of data on the web, but no substitute for personal experience, They're all selling something.

Jack Ellis - Gardeners for Jesus, Hillister Baptist Church, Tyler County, Texas

SEAMSFASTER September 17, 2011 06:58 PM

I am acquainted with one of the developers of drip tape irrigation systems. He indicated that John Deere is the distributor for the design he worked on.

Check out:

[URL]http://www.deere.com/en_US/water/productsequipment/products_ttape.html[/URL]

I have seen the drip tape and attended a brief presentation about it, but have not yet used it myself - I would also be interested to hear from others who have used it.

Keiththibodeaux September 17, 2011 07:27 PM

I use Dripworks.com. One thing you need to do, especially with a well and drip tape, is to make sure you have a very good filter in place.

hank September 17, 2011 09:11 PM

We use trickl-eez. They have an on line catalog, and they wil send you the book. We are such small potatoes but they have always solved our problems.
Jack, Which crops are you growing where you wil bury the lines? We are learning like you. With vegetables we use plastic with a line laid under except for the pumpkins where we simply lay a line along the newly emerged plants. Blueberries have a burried line. The strawberries are under plastic, but the line is not burried just under the plastic. I guess what I'm saying is that almost everthing we do uses drip irrigation lines that are redone on a yearly basis.
Our well takes care of about 10 acres. It runs 24/7 for 2 months producing 20 gal/min.
Yes, I know, I am in Virginia. I feel pain when I read about Texas. It is like the tight feeling in my chest when I hear of someone's painful accident.
We hope to see your progress notes. We are fairly new and would like to compare notes.
Hank

JackE September 18, 2011 07:40 AM

Hi Keith and Hank--

I found the dripworks site - that's where I've been looking.

Hank, we have about 15 acres in our project. It's all shut-down now and has been since July 1st. We normally irrigate with pond water supplying the sprinklers with a 4" submersible pump, but those days may be over. This is the first year we've actually run out of water, but it's been getting a little drier every year for a decade or more. Thirty years ago we got a thundershower nearly every afternoon - haven't had that for many years. Anyway, we used sprinklers and liquid fertilizer, applying the fert with a 100 gal trailer sprayer.

I am amazed that you water 10 acres with only 20GPM. VERY impressive! We wasted more than that with leaks. -)

So with my 12 GPM flow I should be able to irrigate several acres with drip tape? We're going to start, though, with only 10-12 100 ft rows of spinach and carrots, which we plant on Feb 15 here. I guess I'll leave it on top the ground, like you do with pumpkins, so I can learn how it operates. Question: there's two flow rates - do I want the high flow (0.67GPM/100 ft) or the low flow (0.34GPM/100 ft.).

There's no plumbing on this well yet - just the compressor and a 300 gal storage tank. So we'll install the pump and pressure tank as normal, right?, and then install the filter in the line coming out of the pressure tank and then the low pressure regulator - or vice versa? How much pressure do you run? They say 15# is max.

So I guess you take up the lines to cultivate. They say you can bury them permanently - but it's hard to believe the cultivator or tiller wouldn't grab them! I'll put them on top like you do. I assume you reuse the tape? Just pile it up out of the way, prepare/plant the field and re-install, right?

Thanks so much for "coming to my aid"?

JackE September 18, 2011 10:37 AM

Hank - How about fertilizer injection? I'm REALLY ignorant on that one but would love to be enlightened. Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks! :-)

Keith - This well has quite a bit of sand - so I'm putting a trap in place to catch the sand as soon as it leaves the storage tank. There will likely still be some fine sand in the water
as it passes through the filter. So I need one with a fine mesh (I've read 200 micron minimum ?) filter. I would rather have one I can clean-out instead of having to buy filter elements all the time. Any specific recommendations on brands and models, Keith?

Jack

hank September 18, 2011 09:58 PM

A few notes
The vegetable lines and manifolds are discarded after one year.
The water goes straight from the well to a carrier pipe to the area being watered to the manifold to the lines.
We use a valve on each line.
We do not use filters.
The lines may be as long as 1000 feet.
We have used different flow rate lines. We adjust the total length of line being used so that they are pressurized to the very end of each line that is on. With the lower pressure lines you can leave more lines on but it takes longer to wet the ground.
We constantly move the water to the area most in need, sometimes switching every 12 hours. Often we water several areas at a time.
Most fertilizer is broadcast or sprayed. We do have an old sprayer jerryrigged to hook into a manifold. We fertilize the raised bed strawberries with it. Here again, it is a matter of adjusting the number of lines to fill them with enough pressure.
The pressure from the well is 30 to 40. We have no other pressure regulator. We turn it on to area with open lines and adjust that number so that the lines are full and functioning. The pressure in each line is unknown.
I need to remind everyone reading this that I am in VA. I'm probably
clueless about Texas.
Hank

Keiththibodeaux September 18, 2011 10:51 PM

[QUOTE=JackE;234064]Because of the drought in Texas, we are switching from pond to well irrigation, and also lowering our acreage substantially. I have an old 2" well that has plenty of water - flow rate of about 12 gals/minute. We have installed an air compressor on this well, but no pump or anything else.

I want to irrigate as much as I can with drip tape, using this well. I know very little about drip tape, except that it has to have a filter, runs on low pressure and is permanently buried in the ground under each row. I only know what I have read and have never actually seen a piece of "drip tape".

Before investing a lot of money on developing this well/system further, I need to do my homework. Any advice, links or, especially, personal experience with drip tape, or similar systems, would be greatly appreciated. We will be running 100 ft rows and and can adjust our machinery to work over buried irrigation lines as necessary.

We have always had abundant water around here and could afford to waste it by running sprinklers and furrow irrigation, but those days seem to be over - not just this drought, but increasingly drier for some years.

Thanking y'all in advance. Lots of data on the web, but no substitute for personal experience, They're all selling something.

Jack Ellis - Gardeners for Jesus, Hillister Baptist Church, Tyler County, Texas[/QUOTE]

Quick question, why tape instead of a drip system?

JackE September 19, 2011 07:55 AM

Hank - I'm sure glad you shared that with me - it's very different from what I have been reading. Seems to be a lot more flexibility than I thought - with pressure, etc. I also thought it was permanent stuff that you keep using over and over. Discarding it annually could be costly? And everybody talks about filters. It's not as complicated as the suppliers make-out!

One more question - can you run it slightly uphill by adjusting the pressure or does the field have to be level?

***************************

Keith - For years and years we used a gravity drip system with a 300 gal supply tank, 2" pvc supply lines and manifolds, and 1/2" pvc feeder lines with 1/8" holes drilled at various distances apart. It wasn't really a drip system, just "leaky pipes" basically. The drawback was lack of uniformity (fields not level) and we couldn't run long rows. It was very inefficient even compared to sprinklers. We don't have the water supply for that sort of thing anymore.

I have no experience with real drip sytems, with emitters etc. I've always thought they were only used on very small gardens and required a constant water supply with consistent pressure 24/7. I have also heard that they are nightmare to keep open, even with clean municipal water. I have an open mind and would appreciate any links or info -I have the well up and running but I want to take my time in selecting this system - may have to live with it for a long time! May never rain again in Texas. LOL

Jack

biscgolf September 19, 2011 08:38 AM

i installed 3000 feet of netafim dripperline this spring and have been very happy with it... stuff is really easy to work with. cost was around 300 bucks for the line, filter, pressure regulator, fittings and shipping.

i have it laid out in 120 foot lengths with valves on each line.

JackE September 19, 2011 09:29 AM

netafim dripperline - I'm googling it right now - Thanks!

J

JackE September 19, 2011 10:02 AM

Just got back from Netafim dealer, SprinklerMart, website. Very impressed. I see that their driplines only have emitters at 12" and 18". In our sandy soil, water goes straight down and doesn't spread-out much - 12" might be a little too far apart for some crops.

The selection of fertilizer injectors and filters is outstanding and reasonably priced. Everything on th site is of commercial quality - no junk!

Which dripperline do you use, Bisgolf?

Jack

Bud41 September 19, 2011 09:12 PM

Jack
I use EuroDrip 5/8", 8mil, 12" spacing, low flow. About $ 175 for a 7500' roll.

Bud

Heritage September 20, 2011 12:12 AM

Jack,

Just a few points that hopefully will be helpful:

- Drip Tape (T-Tape, John Deere, etc) and Drip Lines (Netafilm.etc) work similarly, but drip lines cost about 5-10 times as much as drip tape. The setup cost (filters. headers, pressure regulators) is probably about the same for each system, the difference is in the cost of the tape/dripper line itself. Dripper lines are a thick plastic tube with embedded (or individually installed) drippers, while drip tape is a thinner (commonly 8 mil) plastic tubing with holes in it. All of the flower farmers around here use the 8 mil drip tape w/ 8 inch spacing. It costs about $175 per 7500'. As a comparison, 7500' of Netfilm @ $68/250ft (from SprinklerMart website) would cost about $2000. Drip tape is rated for a single season (I get at least 2 years out of the cheapest T-Tape) while drip systems should last for years.

- You will have to figure your flow rate/supply to figure out how much line you can run. As an example, if you have a 12 GPM supply you could run about 17 100' rows using a high flow 8 mil .67 GPM /100 ' drip tape. Figure about 15 rows to allow for leakage, etc. So, every series of 15 rows would be run separately, either manually, or with a timer. A one-inch header poly pipe would be sufficient to supply the 12 GPM to the 15 rows. You could either use a pressure regulator inline, or adjust the flow with a manual valve. (what I do) Drip tape has to be run at low pressure (I believe 15 psi or less, check the specs), if it is under high pressure, it bursts. Too little pressure will give uneven water on fields with a slope, but I'm not sure what the recommended minimum pressure is. It is easy to adjust.

- With drip tape, expect to do repairs. I don't know how the varmit situation is in Texas, but here in So Cal I repair T-Tape holes almost every time I turn it on. Crows are so clever it doesn't take them long to discover there is water in the tape and they soon learn to poke holes in the tape to get a drink (usually at the end of the line). Coyote pups like to chew holes in tape just for the game. Similarly, if the tape is buried, gophers soon chew holes in it. If you incorporate a black plastic mulch it would take care of the crow problem. Also, black plastic mulch (or other mulches) are commonly used with tape to further conserve water and save on weeding labor costs. Repairs to the tape are easy and inexpensive. (except for the labor)

- If you use chemical fertilizers be sure to use a good pre-plant fertilizer. I use Apex slow release 14-14-14. You will also probably want an injector system to supplement fertilization as needed. However, soluble fertilizers, suitable for injector/tape systems are expensive, so use the pre-plant fert to cut down on this cost.

Good luck!
Steve

JackE September 20, 2011 04:04 AM

Thanks for all the invaluable info, Steve. The varmint problem is severe here. A couple years ago we built 4500 feet of hi-tension , 8 foot electric fence. Major project, but the deer were killing us. No more deer, but plenty of crows - who feasted this year when our lake pump started sucking air and 2500 tomato plants, laden with ripening fruit, withered and died in 100+ temps in late May. What a heartbreaker for our volunteers who had worked so hard with all that weaving etc! We got about 25% of expected yield.

Would the more expensive drip tape, with a harder wall, eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, the crow and gopher damage. The crows are so bad we can't grow melons anymore - they destroy every single one- and the covers didn't work-out very well for us.

*****************

Is this my old friend, Bud - from Bachelor, LA? I worried about you during the last flood on the Missisippi - Bachelor was ground zero according to TV reports! I think of you often - especially when weaving toms - you taught us so much about this business. The elderly volunteers hate the weaving system and want to go back to half cages- all that stooping is killing their backs. Some have quit. I myself have to walk on my knees - especially on that bottom run! All the younger members of our church have to work everyday!

We're finally being forced into drip tape :-)! Our 4 acre pond is virtually dry - the catfish have ticks on their backs! We were hoping for more rain from TS Lee, but y'all hogged most of it.LOL We did get a couple inches, which had no effect on the pond. And they are predicting a dry winter. We're completely shut-down - many volunteers have drifted away to other things and the church is losing interest in our project. We're just spending money now with no revenues! (mostly our personal money LOL - and Darlene is starting to apply the brakes). So, all in all, these are pretty tough times for market gardeners.

God bless you and your family - and thanks again for all your past help. Pray for rain over this way.

Jack


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