How to maintain and care for your irrigation system

The heavy investment when installing an irrigation system  makes it almost mandatory that we have to take care of it and last for many years. Laziness and continued use of fertilizers causes clogs, breaks and cracks in the irrigation system. We tell you how to avoid this type of situation.


Although some are more complicated than others, a common localized irrigation system is made up of the following elements:

  • Irrigation head
  • Irrigation network
  • Droppers or sprinklers
  • Control elements

In the  irrigation head,  the water can be obtained from wells or aquifers and then rises into reservoirs. In this way, it is possible to do a water treatment to guarantee the best sanitary conditions.

Often times, algae, bacteria and fungi proliferate in these types of reservoirs, which must be eliminated or treated so that they do not cause a problem in the crops.

When designing the water inlet in the reservoir , the water usually falls in a cascade. In this way, it is achieved, without energy expenditure, that the water becomes oxygenated, helps in the precipitation of iron and reduces the proliferation of ferruginous bacteria.

Another type of reservoir management is to reduce the entry of light into the reservoir. With this we avoid increasing the population of organisms that need light to proliferate. In this aspect, we reduce the presence of algae and organic matter.

In addition, we manage to reduce the evaporation of water , which in summer is a problem where large amounts of this liquid element are lost.

The water outlet pipe is usually installed quite far from the surface, where the penetration of light is less.

By placing said outlet at a certain depth (always greater than 50 cm) we prevent algae and other organisms that live longer on the surface from passing through the channel (in areas where there is more light).


A common use as an algaecide, due to its low cost, is copper sulfate . A mixture of sulfur and copper in different concentrations that inhibits the growth of organisms.

The disadvantage that it has is that the dose must be controlled very well, since in certain concentrations it can be lethal for plants and we can create phytotoxicity.

The dose to be used is between 0.05 to 4 ppm (mg / L or g / m3). Typically 2 grams are used for every cubic meter of water. Therefore, the special condition for this type of treatment is to properly cube the raft.  

Example. Having a basin with a capacity for 8,000 m3 of water, the dose of copper sulfate to be used is 16 kg (for 2 ppm). Copper sulfate pentahydrate is often used , usually in stone because of its lower cost.

Eye. We must take into account the naturalness of our irrigation system, especially the pipes and connecting elements. Copper sulfate attacks aluminum and affects all types of life, including fish.


Potassium permanganate provides a violet color in water that gradually disperses.

Copper affects the growth of bacteria, fungi, and algae. However, looking for a product as an oxidizing factor, there would be potassium permanganate .

In the market we can find different concentrations and its effectiveness is based on its ability to oxidize the permanganate ion, eliminating odors, destroying algae and microorganisms.

The dose of use depends on the concentration of potassium permanganate, since we can find products at 10% and 50%. The one that goes to 10% has a dosage that varies as follows:

  • Shock treatment: 1-2 L of product for every 50 m3 of water.
  • Maintenance treatment:  0.5-1.5 L for every 50 m3 of water.

Used to remove obstructions in pipes and irrigation systems, it can be used at a rate of 2-4 L / ha or for 20 m3 of water.

That is, if we have 20,000 drippers at 3 L / hour, 60 m3 of water per hour, we apply between 2 and 4 liters of 10% potassium permanganate in a 20-minute irrigation (20 m3 of water).

How often to treat our irrigation reservoir?

It depends, above all, on the severity of the problem. A widespread and common use of this product is in the application of the aforementioned dose every 10-15 days in summer and every 45 days in winter.


Chlorine is an element that kills bacteria and microorganisms very effectively. The problem is that plants are sensitive to high levels of this element.

Sodium hypochlorite (ClONE) is often used to reduce clogging and can be safely injected into the sprinkler head.

It is convenient, however, that the injection is done before the filtering equipment , in this way we make the aggregates that are removed from the walls of the pipes remain in the filters.


When we do not have a crop nor have we planted. With this we avoid any problem of phytotoxicity or loss of crop yield.

Very important to respect the dose. Let’s see it.

If we want to prevent obstructions …

  • Continuous chlorination: 3-5 ppm (mg / L)
  • Intermittent chlorination: 10 ppm (mg / L)

If we want to clean once the obstruction has occurred …

  • Continuous chlorination : 5-10 ppm (mg / L)
  • Intermittent chlorination: 15-50 ppm (mg / L)

If the sodium hypochlorite treatment is insufficient and we have a large blockage, we can make a special application above 50 ppm. It is important that there is no cultivation.


The pH of the water plus the fertilizer solution provides a final pH that varies depending on the type of fertilizer we use.

The irrigation water provides an initial pH that will depend on the hardness of the water and solids (such as calcium, magnesium, iron, chlorine, sodium, etc.).

You can see our article on how to decipher a water interpreter to see what water can contain and how to classify it.

In the technical recommendations for fertilizing and irrigation, it is suggested that the water circulating through the pipes be at a pH between 5.5 and 6.5 . With this, we reduce the formation of precipitates, obstructions and other problems in the irrigation system.

In addition, it is a very favorable pH for plants , maintaining a comfortable pH for root development in the saturated extract. We will reduce antagonisms between elements, immobilized and blockages.

The control of the pH of the water is done by injecting nitric acid (very acidic!), Using sulfates (acidic pH) or phosphoric acid as a source of phosphorus.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *