problems with drippers and irrigation

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by IntensiveGardener, Jan 17, 2008.

  1. IntensiveGardener

    IntensiveGardener Junior Member

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    Hi all,
    Iv recently been trying drippers (for the first time) for several plants due to water shortages and also to reduce mildew problems caused by wet leaves.
    Until now i'v been using a combination of soaker hoses, hand watering and 13mm black poly with sprayers.
    I'v found the poly to be a waste of time and money because it bends in the sun and the sprayers get clogged even when putting the water through an expensive filter first.The drippers and soakas don't seem to have the same problem.

    I replaced the soakas on the snowpeas with drippers and continued watering. The mildew was a bit better but after a while the plants started to die off from lack of water.

    The dripper would drip in the middle of the bed and the water goes straight down. It doesn't spread out through the soil and reach the root zone of the plants properly. I was giving them lots of water through the drippers (up to 12 hours every 3 days) and it didn't seem to make any difference. When a swaped back to soakas the plants greened up again.
    Am i doing something wrong? or have my plants just spread their roots out to catch the soaka irrigation and therefore cannot adjust to drippers only.
    Also the soil is very good, about 50cm deep with plently of compost and a
    red clay subsoil.
    cheers,
    IG
     
  2. Tezza

    Tezza Junior Member

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    Drippers seamed such a good idea when i first got started 20 years ago,

    One problem that really Pi##ed me off was blocked drippers you can never real;ly tell if they working correctly, It only takes a small bit of grit to block em sometimes,JUST enough to kill a new seedling :( :( :( :( .

    As an extra, if mildew is/was your problem causing you to change watering methods, Try sorting out your mildew problems firstly


    Its not so easy sometimes watering plants,trees etc..Im still struggling to get it right..time and experience will help you sort your problems out better 8) 8)

    Tezza
     
  3. IntensiveGardener

    IntensiveGardener Junior Member

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    Thanks tezza,
    Re the mildew, i have been treating the peas with milk regularly and it sets the mildew back/keeps it under control but i think its a bit advanced to do anything more with this crop.
    We got 90mm of rain followed by a couple of 40 degree days here about a month ago and thats when the mildew set in.
    I'v been able to stop it spreading to pumpkin family though :)

    Your right about drippers, they are hardly the set and forget solution many had hoped for. some are better than others though. The type i was trialing you can just unscrew a blocked one and clean out the crud. Its a bitch having to check them all though :-/
    What watering method do you use now?
    cheers,
    ig
     
  4. teela

    teela Junior Member

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    I like the idea of that leaching hose type of irrigation. I haven't tried it yet myself but it looks promising.
     
  5. Tezza

    Tezza Junior Member

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    What type of way do i water by now???????????????????????????


    Well...............wait for it?????????????????????????????

    A hose open ended mainly, but with a spray nozzle.

    Ive found that over head watering on mulched areas is a waste of water mostly.specially in summer anyways....Keeping mulch damp helps the breaking down procceses....and feeds worms and good bugs...but lots is wasted by evaporation and wetting mulch instead or roots. :( :( :(

    I just lay my hose down and let it flow around any tree that needs a top up..
    Especialy in the fruiting seasons...

    A mixed fruiting season allows some fruits to be self watered by rainfall...

    Less rainfall in my area has made my garden a bit more water needy this year...

    Switching my vegies to Aquaponics will give me more food but use less water and give me yabbies and hopefully fish .

    I find im allways looking to improve my water usage every year...

    Unfortunatly or fortunatly i get Freshly Chemicalised water via the water mains..

    Tezza
     
  6. Duckpond

    Duckpond Junior Member

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    scape line sub teranian drip irrigation by a company called Netafim is the go.
    It is 13mm poly, with built in drippers. They do not clog, the system is cleaned by a diaphram valve installed at the end of the line.

    It is more expensive than poly hose, but no need for sprayers or anything so cheaper in the end, and uses standard 13mm poly fittings. B sells it, but better to go to a dedicated retic store for more info. Or ask me for advice, i am a retic installer with my own business, and install heaps of it, domestic, commercial and agricultural.

    There is 4mm miniscape, but it is crap. dont go near it.
     
  7. Jez

    Jez Junior Member

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    Is scape line an integral drip system with a limited life of a few years Duck, or am I thinking of a different product? I assume that it's not adjustable and best for row crops etc?

    Good to have an irrigation expert on board! 8)

    IG, I reckon you've hit the nail on the head when you suggest that the root system is beyond the drippers.

    You probably already know these things, but at the risk of belabouring the obvious, airflow is important in controlling mildew (perhaps an adjustment of row orientation to facilitate greater air flow could help?), and milk spraying is more of a preventative than helping that much once the mildew has already broken out. It helps a bit, but the horse has bolted so to speak. :wink:
     
  8. IntensiveGardener

    IntensiveGardener Junior Member

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    I water my trees in the same way Tezza,
    great for fruit trees but i was more asking about the vegies. Didn't realise you use Aquaponics. I'v heard lots of good stuff about the water efficientcy of Aquaponics but i'm afraid i'm perhaps old fashioned and prefer my vegies grown in real soil.

    I am a fan of overhead watering for some things as i don't have heavily mulched beds. Obviosly its no good for mildew effected plants.
    My vegie beds are generally raised beds of soil with a good addition of compost. I plant crops very close together so that they form a living mulch over the soil and provide it with complete cover. They are like mini forests with an over canopy and in some cases understories. When i water overhead i try to simulate rainfall and the canopy catches it and drips it down in much the same way as a forrest does with rain.

    Thanks for the confirmation Jez. Thats a shame though because that means that portions of my soil will dry out and be unproductive. It seems a waste of other resources like compost and lime since i give them to the whole bed.
    I'm not really into row cropping with most vegies but i guess drippers would be effective in that context if they were used from the start. All the same though there would be a dry section between the rows that would steal some moisture.

    The scape line seems a good idea and i'v considered it. My water is fairly good quality and i'm sure they'd work as well as other drippers minus the clogging. I'v seen them block before though on a permaculture nursery just north of here. He was using very muddy dam water.

    cheers
    IG[/quote]
     
  9. Duckpond

    Duckpond Junior Member

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    Scape line will last similar time to ordinary poly pipe. If buried it will last many years. The soil must have a good amount of organic matter to soak and spread the water. about 300mm apart is good. If you are using dirty water there is a type of scape line that has very laarge diffusers that do not clog as easily, or use a good pre filter.

    for large row beds long runs of scape line can be set up, and detached at one end and rolled up before cultivating to avoid damage. I have seen this on an organic avocado farm that was intercropping with veggies. It worked well
     
  10. TropicalRose

    TropicalRose Junior Member

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    T-tape

    DP do you know much about t-tape or horticultural tape as they called it on a hort course I did? It was a tape type of hose with multiple small holes in it and I can't recall it clogging up during the one crop we got off it. It kept things watered in a row of course and seemed ok.
     
  11. TropicalRose

    TropicalRose Junior Member

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    And of course there are the wicking beds, haven't tried it yet but it seems a very good idea especially if water is a problem.
     
  12. Andrew Clarke

    Andrew Clarke Junior Member

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    Great thread and highly topical as I am currently investigating water harvesting and irrigation for my own project. A friend runs a small fruit nursery and I was recently discussing the economics of his business, especially with regard to the irrigation of his grafted trees.

    Like most people he went for the cheapest option first but soon discovered that the drippers blocked/broke and were generally inefficient. Second time around he had the same problems - having spent a little bit more - but eventually had enough of that system too, so has now purchased a more expensive but reliable system. He could have probably have bought twice what he has now in drip lines with the money he wasted on the learning curve...

    I remember having the same problem with a very eco-sounding recycled car tyre leaky hose system in a polytunnel a few years back which never seemed to do the business, always seemed to block up and deposit the water right where it was not needed (e.g. the path!). Eventually I went back to using a hose from the tap or from the pond inside the polytunnel, giving the place a really good soaking every few days to encourage develoment of tap rather than surfce roots. (Incidentally the pond in polytunnel was a bad idea in practise, raising the humidity levels and encouraging green mould everywhere, despite supporting a few frogs to munch the slugs.)

    Anyway, I will get the name of this system when I next catch up with my fruit-bat mate and pass the details on, but please bear in mind that I am in North Wales, U.K. and supply may be difficult to the southern hemisphere.

    I hear good things about the flat tape, but am unsure of specific brands. Any comments on what works and what is a waste of time, energy, money and water would be very much appreciated.

    As some smug b*stard once said "it's better to learn from other people's mistakes than your own".

    :lol:

    All the best

    Andrew
     
  13. Jana

    Jana Junior Member

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    Gaviotas is a 40 year old community of the imagination in Columbia...the tech they built was mostly from scratch using the creative process...so it is "do it yourself style" very suitable for permaculture...I am not sure if there is a book out on the details of the inventions themselves...but you could join the friends of gaviotas and get in the loop.

    One of the inventions was self regulating drip irrigation using a nossel system...that comprises of a long hollow finger of porous fired clay...inside of which you put an expandable type clay and then a soft compressable plastic tubing is placed inside of this.
    Then you would have these feeder tubes running off a main hose, and have the system imbedded in the soil and gravity fed from a pond or ditch.
    As the soil dries out the clay inside the pottery finger dries and contracts allowing the plastic tubing to expand and permitting a flow of water into the soil. As the soil gets wet the water seeps into the porous finger and expands the clay cutting off the flow.

    You would have to experiment with sizes of tubes, fingers and expansion potential of the clay to get the system right for the type of crop, climate and soil water holding capacity etc.... Once set in place this system would ofter perfect permanent irrigation without any effort...ideal for perennials and fruit trees.

    To make the porous pottery finger tubes you could mix coffee grounds into the clay, and once fired the coffee grounds are combusted leaving the clay poked with holes...this way of making porous clay can also be used in making water filters.
     

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