Friday, April 25, 2014

Drip Irrigation : Be ready for maintenance

Over the years, several users have inquired about pros and cons of drip irrigation. Though there is abundance of published information from an academic and marketing perspective, I will try to elaborate it from a practical perspective based on our experiences.
  • There is no doubt that drip is more efficient in terms of water usage. However, it comes with a cost. Such costs should be evaluated in the context of the intended crop and the value of the produced output. Often installation can become very expensive, especially for vegetables since laterals are closely spaced.
Typical Drip Irrigation System schematic
  •  Though drip irrigation requires less labor during irrigation, it requires manpower to maintain the system. This involves frequent cleaning of disc filters, periodic flushing of sub mains and laterals, checking of drippers for water flow and regular check for leaks. In our experience, it takes about 2-4 hours for 1 person to check and rectify leaks etc on a 5 acre Mango UHD plot. Obviously, it is subject to number of corrections to be done. We perform flushing, drip checks almost every other week.
  • Dissolved salts in the water pose a significant challenge with drippers getting blocked. Though online drippers are easier to clean, inline laterals are almost impossible to clean manually. Acid flushing is recommended by experts, however it is not easy to procure acid in open market in wake of the recent acid attacks. 
Standard assembly between water mains and drip line
  • Consideration should be given to the local geography and fauna. Rocky soil can hard on the laterals after a while. Often small ruminants or dogs may chew laterals which will immediately need replacements. At Savera Farms, we experienced pea cocks punching laterals for a quick shower during our hot summers!
  • In India, there are subsidies available by state governments for small acreages and NHB for a plantation project, but most of these programs may not be feasible for small or hobby farms.
  • If you are considering using 4 LPH drippers for irrigation, I would highly discourage from using them. They easily get blocked since the cavity in the drippers is smaller. You are better off using a 8 LPH dripper and decreasing your irrigation time by half. 
Hopefully, this helps and look forward to others adding their feedback and perspective to this list.

1 comment:

  1. Helpful information, I visit my farm occasionally and do not have first hand information of issues that should be adressed.your suggestion are practical and helpful.

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