Operation and Maintenance of a Drip Irrigation System
The drip irrigation system is the most efficient irrigation system compared to other irrigation systems. However, it also requires more maintenance and operation measures compared to other irrigation systems. This is attributed to the fact that, drip it irrigation systems are prone to clogging and over-pressurization which reduces the performance and durability of the drip irrigation system. Additionally, the changing of the quality of water used in irrigation, limitations of filtration devices, and the general environmental conditions where the drip irrigation system is installed makes maintenance of these systems a priority.
At drip masters we, therefore, ensure that the drip systems we install are planned, designed, and installed as recommended. This is because poor installation of the drip irrigation system is the cause of major problems experienced by the system. As a result, the drip irrigation systems we install require minimum maintenance thus reducing the overall cost of production. We also advice our clients to adopt a regular inspection and maintenance schedule of the drip irrigation system so as to prevent minor problems from developing into major problems.
Operation of A Drip Irrigation System
Operating a drip irrigation system is very easy. However, the farmer should operate the system properly for longevity and trouble free utilization of the system. The farmer can follow the guidelines below while operating the drip irrigation system.
• The information from the drip irrigation system designer, installer, and dealer such as the design, evaluation and testing should be kept properly.
• The valves should be operated at specified quantities of water.
• The pressure at the pressure gauges should be checked regularly.
• The system should be inspected regularly to ensure all components are operating well.
• The emitters should be checked frequently to ensure that they are discharging water properly.
• If the farmer is doing fertigation, he/she should inspect the chemical and fertilizer injection equipment to ensure that they are operating properly.
Maintenance of a Drip Irrigation System
For the installed drip irrigation system to operate successfully and optimally, all its components should be properly maintained. Some of the maintenance practices that can be carried out on an installed drip irrigation system are outlined below.
The emitters are important component of the drip irrigation system. They should be inspected regularly to ensure that they are functioning well. The inspection should be able to confirm that the valves are working well, pipes are not leaking, and the wetting pattern is uniform. The position of the emitters should also be examined and if they have moved away from the root crop zone, they should be returned. Additionally, if the emitters are not discharging water correctly they should be cleaned either using chemicals or manually to unclog them. If the emitters remain faulty after cleaning, they should be replaced by new ones.
The heart of the drip irrigation system is the filter. If the filter is faulty, then the entire drip irrigation system becomes faulty since the emitters will be clogged. Filters should, therefore, be flushed at regular intervals and cleaned daily to remove any trapped dirt that accumulated when the system was being used the previous day. Drip irrigation systems are fitted with different types of filters such as sand filters, hydro cyclone filters, and disc/screen filters. The farmers should maintain the filter according to the instructions on the filter’s manual.
If the drip irrigation is fitted with a fertigation unit, it should also be maintained properly. To ensure uniform application of fertilizer, clean water should be allowed to flow through the fertilizer injectors before and after the application of fertilizer for approximately 10-15 minutes. The lid of the fertilizer tank should be closed properly while in operation.
Sub-main and lateral
When in operation for a period of time, silt and other inorganic materials settle in the sub-main and lateral pipes. Additionally, if the quality of water used is poor, slimes pastes can be formed in the sub-main and lateral pipes. Thus, these foreign materials in the sub-main and lateral pipes should be removed regularly to prevent them from clogging. These pipes are unclogged using chemicals such as chlorine.