Monday, February 11, 2013

Moveable Drip Irrigation

I have recently had the privilege of learning about a portable irrigation system that can be used for home gardens or lasagna beds. This system was created by Jeffrey E. Banks who works with Utah State University. More pictures and information can be found by reading Designing a basic PVC home garden dripirrigation system.

One of the best irrigation systems for plant health, reduction in water and reduced disease pressure is a drip system. These polyurethane systems can be daunting to put into place and are usually not easily reusable if moved to a different location.
A moveable drip system is easy to install on a small or larger scale, can be rearranged each year based on the size of the garden or landscape bed and once begun can provide the homeowner with additional confidence to move forward in other areas of the yard.
The first line or main line (A) is glued to maintain pressure for the secondary lines (B) after the manual valves (C). Begin with larger PVC pipe such as 1” pipe and move to smaller sizes based on need. Secondary lines can be added as needed or end caps can be placed to close off a secondary line when a row is not in production.
A fertilizer injector can be placed in the primary line before the first manual valve so that fertilizer can be applied throughout the system.
Holes are drilled in secondary lines using a 1/16 drill bit. These are spaced based on the type of vegetables; tomato every 6 to 12” with one hole on each side of the plant while lettuce would be every 3 to 6 inches. This depends on how far apart you space plants.
Make sure that the ground is level where pipes will be placed. The sun will reduce impact strength of PVC pipe over time so straw or mulch may be used to protect the system or pipe can be covered with tape if it is a concern. The pipe will be taken apart and removed each fall to reduce sun exposure.
Before use each season clean out the pipe by placing holes face up and filling with water. Use a wire to clean out any plugged holes. Once clean the holes may be placed down or up. If they are left up then add a drainage hole every few feet to prevent algae from building up in the pipe.
By using this system you may see higher production, higher quality vegetables, healthier plants, up to 75% water savings, up to 90% time saved in weeding and up to 90% time saved watering.
(by Sarah Denkler, MU Extension Horticulture Specialist)

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