Drip Tape: An Efficient and Effective Irrigation Solution for Farmers
As a farmer, you know that irrigation is a critical part of growing healthy and productive crops. However, traditional irrigation methods, such as overhead sprinklers and flood irrigation, can be inefficient and wasteful, using up large quantities of water and leading to reduced crop yields. That’s where drip tape comes in.
What is Drip Tape?
Drip tape is a type of thin, flexible tubing that is used for drip irrigation, a method of delivering water and nutrients directly to the root zone of plants using a network of small tubing and emitters. Drip tape is typically made of a high-quality plastic material that is resistant to many chemicals and is injected into the ground directly. It is designed to deliver a consistent flow of water to plants over an extended period of time.
How Does Drip Tape Work?
Above ground drip tape is installed by laying the tape along the rows of plants in a field, with the emitters spaced out at regular intervals. The tape is then connected to a water source, such as a pump or a pressurized irrigation system, and the water is delivered to the emitters through the tape. The emitters release a small, steady stream of water directly to the root zone of the plants, providing them with the hydration and nutrients they need to grow. Below ground drip tape works in a similar fashion however, it is inject about 12 inches below ground.
Benefits of Using Drip Tape for Irrigation
Drip tape can be an effective and efficient way to irrigate crops, offering a range of benefits for farmers:
Reduced water usage: Drip tape systems can use up to 50% less water than traditional irrigation methods, making them more sustainable and cost-effective.
Improved plant growth: By delivering water and nutrients directly to the root zone of plants, drip tape systems can help improve plant growth and yields.
Reduced weed growth: Drip tape systems can help reduce the growth of weeds by delivering water directly to the plants, rather than watering the entire field.
Increased efficiency: Underground drip tape systems can help improve the overall efficiency of your irrigation system and boost your crop production, while also reducing water evaporation after the irrigation cycle is complete.
Tips for Using Drip Tape Effectively
To get the most out of your drip tape irrigation system, it’s important to follow a few best practices:
Use the right tape for your crops: Different crops have different irrigation requirements, so it’s important to choose a drip tape that is suitable for your specific crops. This can include the decision to use PC or NON PC emitters.
Plan your tape layout carefully: Properly positioning the drip tape and emitters in your field can help ensure that your plants receive the right amount of water and nutrients. Average tape installs in the Central Valley of California are spaced out between 30inch beds and 60inch beds.
Use a filter: A filter can help prevent clogging of the drip tape, ensuring a consistent flow of water to your plants.
Monitor and maintain your system: Regularly checking and maintaining your drip tape system can help ensure that it is operating at its best and that your crops are receiving the irrigation they need. Best on some data we have collected, it is normal to have one leak per acre per year. If you are irrigating tape on 100 acres, its best practice to prepare for a minimum of 100 leaks that year of irrigation.
Drip tape is a powerful tool for farmers looking to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their irrigation systems. By delivering water and nutrients directly to the root zone of plants, drip tape can help reduce water usage, improve plant growth, and increase crop production. Whether you’re a seasoned farmer or new to irrigation, drip tape is worth considering as a valuable addition to your farm.
Frost is a major threat to stone fruit, citrus, and nut trees. It will damage the blossoms of young fruit and potentially damage or completely kill young trees. Microsprinklers like Fan-Jets are an effective method to prevent the temperature from dropping too low around vulnerable fruit buds.
Citrus leaves damaged by freezing temperatures.
Fan-Jet® Microsprinklers are our recommended choice for frost protection, made since 1977 by Bowsmith out of Exeter, CA. They produce a fan-shaped spray pattern in varying patterns depending on the need of the crop. Streamline keeps in stock dozens of distinct Fan-Jet styles: a wide range of spray patterns (full circle, alternating, butterfly, half circle) and flow rates (4.4 GPH – 29.4 GPH per emitter). We sell assemblies with tubing and stakes, pressure compensating devices, and replacement heads.
A Bowsmith Fan-Jet disbursing 8.4 GPH (Gallons Per Hour) per tree.
Irrigation for frost protection works because heat stored in water coming from the ground is transferred to the field, limiting damage from a frost event. The water travels through the irrigation lines and is distributed across the field. Sprinklers cover the ground and trees with droplets of water. This reduces heat radiation away from the field and adds heat conduction toward the plants. Each water droplet loses its heat, conducting it to the surrounding crop, ground, and air. This can bring the temperature around the plants up to 2°F warmer.
Frost protection in the Central Valley can be set up with well water or reservoirs. It’s a good thing to consider the option for frost during the initial irrigation plan, as you may need to size the underground pipes to enable a higher flow rate. If your irrigation has already been installed without planning for frost protection, it may still be possible to install sprinklers every other row and every other tree, although it’s not as ideal as full coverage. Partial coverage still provides some manner of protection to the crop.
There are a few key factors to consider when using Fan-Jets for frost protection:
Timing: It’s important to start before the frost event occurs. If the water in the lines freezes before water is running, the ice will cause blockage. Test your system early enough to ensure it is running properly.
Duration: The Fan-Jets should be left on for the frost event to prevent temperature drop, preferably until sunrise.
Application rate: A higher application rate helps raise the temperature, which provides more protection against frost. When the application rate exceeds your well output, consider whether you should add a reservoir.
Keep in mind that a frost protection system can be used outside of frost events. Some farmers find it useful to hit the root zones in the middle of the row for irrigation and fertilizer. They can also be used to leach salts and settle beds after cultivating.
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP), both of which are programs administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that provide financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers to help them implement conservation practices on their land. While both programs can be a valuable resource for farmers and ranchers, they have some key differences that it is important to understand.
The main difference between the SWEEP program and the NRCS is the focus of the programs. The SWEEP program is specifically focused on providing financial assistance to farmers and ranchers to help them implement water conservation measures on their land, normally funding things like installing drip irrigation systems, upgrading irrigation systems, and implementing irrigation automation. The goal of the SWEEP program is to help farmers and ranchers conserve water, improve the efficiency of their irrigation systems, and reduce the risk of crop loss due to drought.
The NRCS, on the other hand, is focused on providing technical and financial assistance to farmers and ranchers to help them implement a wide variety of conservation practices on their land. This can include water conservation practices, as well as other practices such as soil erosion control, habitat restoration, and pasture management. The goal of the NRCS is to help farmers and ranchers protect and improve the natural resources on their land, including soil, water, and wildlife, while also improving the productivity of the land.
The eligibility requirements for the SWEEP program and the NRCS may differ slightly. To be eligible for financial assistance through the SWEEP program, farmers and ranchers must be engaged in agricultural production and must have a need for water conservation on their land. The NRCS has similar eligibility requirements, but also has additional requirements based on the specific conservation practices being implemented. For example, some conservation practices may have eligibility requirements related to the size of the operation, the type of crops being grown, or the location of the land.
The application process for the SWEEP program and the NRCS is similar however with SWEEP you can work with your preferred grant writer or use Streamline Irrigation to collect the required information to form a plan that outlines the conservation practices that will be implemented on the land. However, the specific requirements for the conservation plan may differ depending on the program. The SWEEP program may have specific requirements related to the water conservation practices being implemented, while the NRCS may have more general requirements that apply to a wide variety of conservation practices.
In both cases, the conservation plan is a detailed document that describes the specific conservation practices that will be implemented, the goals of the conservation practices, and the expected outcomes of the practices. It also includes information about the resources and materials needed to implement the practices and a timeline for implementing the practices, with the goal of reduced well pumping and greenhouse gas emissions.
Once the conservation plan has been developed, the farmer or rancher submits it to the NRCS for review. The NRCS reviews the plan to make sure that it meets all of the program requirements and that the conservation practices outlined in the plan will be effective in meeting the goals of the program. If the conservation plan is approved by the NRCS, the farmer or rancher can receive financial assistance to help cover the cost of implementing the conservation practices outlined in the plan. This financial assistance is provided in the form of cost-share payments, which are payments that cover a portion of the cost of implementing the conservation practices.
In addition to providing financial assistance, the NRCS also offers technical assistance to farmers and ranchers. This includes things like providing guidance on selecting the most appropriate conservation practices for a particular operation, helping to design and install the conservation practices, and providing ongoing support and monitoring to ensure that the practices are being implemented effectively.
Pressure Compensating vs. Non-Pressure Compensating Drip Systems: Which is Right for Your Farm?
Drip irrigation is a type of irrigation system that delivers water directly to the roots of the plants through a network of underground pvc pipes that deliver water to above ground drip hoses. There are two main types of drip systems: pressure compensating and non-pressure compensating.
Pressure compensating drip systems are designed to deliver a consistent flow of water to the plants, regardless of changes in the water pressure. This is achieved through the use of special pressure compensating emitters, which adjust the flow rate to maintain a consistent output.
The benefits of pressure compensating drip systems include:
Uniformity: The pressure compensating emitters help to ensure that the plants receive a consistent amount of water, even if the water pressure changes. This can help to improve crop yields and reduce the risk of under and over watering.
Less maintenance: Pressure compensating systems are generally more reliable and require less frequent maintenance compared to non-pressure compensating systems.
Better water use efficiency: By delivering water directly to the roots of the plants at a rate that is measurable regardless of water pressure, farmers can improve water use efficiency.
However, pressure compensating drip systems also have some limitations:
Higher cost: Pressure compensating systems are generally more expensive than non-pressure compensating systems, which may be a barrier for some farmers.
Limited flexibility: The pressure compensating emitters may not be suitable for all crops or growing conditions, and may not be able to deliver the optimal amount of water to the plants in all situations.
Non-pressure compensating drip systems, on the other hand, do not have pressure compensating emitters. This means that the flow rate can vary depending on the water pressure, which can affect the amount of water delivered to the plants. Non-pressure compensating systems are generally less expensive than pressure compensating systems, but they may be less reliable and may require more frequent maintenance.
The benefits of non-pressure compensating drip systems include:
Lower cost: Non-pressure compensating systems are generally less expensive than pressure compensating systems, which may be attractive to some farmers.
Flexibility: Non-pressure compensating systems may be more flexible and able to deliver the optimal amount of water to the plants in a wider range of situations.
However, non-pressure compensating drip systems also have some limitations:
Inconsistent water delivery: The flow rate can vary depending on the water pressure, which may result in inconsistent water delivery to the plants.
Higher maintenance: Non-pressure compensating systems may require more frequent maintenance and may be less reliable compared to pressure compensating systems.
Lower water use efficiency: The inconsistent flow rate may result in water waste and lower water use efficiency.
Both pressure compensating and non-pressure compensating drip systems have their own benefits and limitations, and the most appropriate type of system will depend on the specific needs and conditions of the crops being irrigated. Farmers should carefully consider the pros and cons of each type of system before making a decision.