IDENTIFICATION OF PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS IN DRIP IRRIGATION
Is your drip irrigation installation not what it used to be? Do you have sectors in the orchard or garden to which less water reaches them than before? It is very possible that after a while you will have clogged drippers. It is usually a fairly frequent problem in our garden and from time to time we must conduct inspections to evaluate the installation. We help you identify those problems and give you solutions.
It is very possible that after a while, your drip irrigation installation suffers blockages that decompensate both the pressure of the different points of the circuit and the amount of water emitted and reduce the good general functioning.
Some areas are watered more than others and we may have sectors of our garden or orchard, without adequate hydration. Let’s look at the most common shutter problems and their possible solutions:
PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS IN DRIP IRRIGATION
1. BLOCKAGE BY SOLID PARTICLES
Hoses, as well as emitters, can accumulate a significant amount of solid particles after a while. We must remove the clamps from the ends and let the water run so that the dirt comes out of the hoses.
If the clogging persists in the droppers, we must remove them and wash them with water or pressurized air.
2. SAND SEALING
If sand clogging is frequent, you should install a sand filter at the entrance to the installation. You will avoid future problems and headaches.
3. PRECIPITATION OF FE SALTS
This does not usually happen in small irrigation installations. If it is very severe, it would be necessary to deal with nitric acid solutions or change the entire irrigation system. In small installations the solution is sometimes more expensive than a new one.
4. PRESENCE OF ALGAE AND BACTERIA
It will not happen very often either, but if it does, it is best to have a specific filter installed. The other option is to use algaecides, although it is better to be safe than sorry, right?
5. MUD STUCK AND DRY ON THE EMITTER
It may happen that after a rain it is clogged on the outside, by mud splashes. With a little water we will solve it. If the installation is very large, we can do a small watering after the rain to eliminate it before it dries.
6. CALCIUM SALTS
The dreaded lime. It is undoubtedly the most common problem in the clogging of localized irrigation systems.
If you live in an area where the waters are very limestone, it is very possible that you suffer from this problem.
There are several options on the market, from expensive water softeners (not recommended for small and medium-sized installations) to magnets at the entrance of the circuit that momentarily change the polarity of the salts, preventing their crystallization to a certain extent.
One piece of advice that we give you at Gardenprue is that if the hoses are protected from the Sun with the padding , the crystallization of the sudden lime in the dropper due to the effect of the heat will be much less.
If the water we drink for drip irrigation is not of very good quality or is impounded (greater risk of algae and bacteria), the installation of mesh, sand or ring filters will increase the useful life of the irrigation system considerably.
It is also necessary to assess the size and meters of hose in the installation, because the maintenance of the filters is sometimes not cheap and it will be necessary to weigh whether to change the hoses and drippers every 4 or 5 years or invest in a filtering system. You will have to value it.
In any case, we always recommend to install hose can be irrigated by exudation . In a small orchard or garden installation and even in larger-scale crops, the problems derived from clogging in this type of irrigation system are very few or almost zero.
In addition, the fertilizers as such are salts, so we must also be especially careful with the amount we add by irrigation (to avoid burns and phytotoxicities), their solubility, and their incompatibility with other soluble fertilizers.
7. ORGANIC MATTER IN SUSPENSION
Whether it is added by fertilizer (be careful, not the typical compost we are used to, but the one that is soluble), or if we water from a well or reservoir, we can find all kinds of organic matter. Algae, fungi, bacteria, tiny plant debris. Everything that has not cleaned the filter.
HOW TO AVOID BLOCKAGES IN YOUR DRIP SYSTEM?
There are different products on the market, most of them acidic in nature, to clean our entire system. Basically we could differentiate between maintenance cleanings (those that are done, for example, once a month) and deep cleanings, where the amount of acidic matter is increased and all the droppers are closed.
To remove carbonates , a widely used product (and it is not expensive) is usually nitric acid . It has a very acidic pH, so it is good for those soils of a basic nature.
HOW MUCH NITRIC ACID IS USUALLY ADDED?
Although it is variable and will depend on how closed the installation is, we recommend a quantity of between 3 and 6 liters for each cubic meter and hour of irrigation.
One moment! And how do I know how much is a cubic meter of water that passes through my pipe?
Very easy. Count the number of drippers in your installation and their flow. If, for example, you have 250 drippers of 4 L / h, we would be talking about 1 cubic meter every hour of irrigation. Therefore, you would have to add between 3 and 6 L.
ORGANIC MATTER CLEANING
Although nitric acid achieves much improvement in the irrigation system, there are also other specific products, depending on the nature of the clog. For example, for fillings from accumulations of organic matter , sodium hypochlorite can be added , which we all know as bleach. Of course, it will be necessary to be very careful with the concentration and the quantity to avoid phytotoxicities in the crops.
In addition, sodium hypochlorite can be used, at higher doses, to combat an emerging nematode problem . It is usually applied at a rate of 1 liter per 1,000 square meters, always taking into account the number of drippers that we have to avoid phytotoxicities .
PRECAUTIONS TO CONSIDER
Finally, you must take into account the many precautions that must be taken when handling products of this nature. Both nitric acid and hypochlorite are dangerous and corrosive , and they release toxic gases. For handling it, the use of protective gloves, waterproof suits, boots, glasses, etc. is mandatory.