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Few experiences from friends on drip irrigation US




  • 1.
    Where at in NE Texas. I have 194 acres of drip. My first drip was installed in 2004 on corners surrounding a half mile pivot. Are your old wells turbines with drip oil, Cost of a system is anywhere from 800 to 1000 dollars per acre. You can apply for equip money at your FSA office and they will do a cost share on 40 acres. At least in my county. 

    Rule of thumb for cotton is you want at least 3 gallons per acre per minute. Corn may be higher. We install our drip tape at about 12″ deep(level ground) every 80 inches. We are on 40 inch rows. I have heard of some systems being put in every 40 inches for corn. Drip has its problems just like any other irrigation systems. Rodents can be a big problems. Gophers love to go down and bite the drip tape. You also have to watch your water quality. We try to acidize our system every year and we have to watch for calcium buildup. There are some new products out that can assist you in keeping the emitters clean. 

    The heart of the system is the filter station and controller. There are a couple of types of filters. The first filter is usually a hydrocyclone which spins the water to settle out the sand or sediments. Then you can either use a disc filter or a sand media filter. Both work but you need to select the filter for your water. The filter flushes automatically by time or a pressure differential. You also have flush the systems periodically through the flush valves on the far end of the fields. 

    There are a lot of different drip tapes out there. I use Eurodrip but I think there are other brands that are just as good. 

    Finally, it is very important that you have a good design. You want all zones to be the same sizes. 

    Also, you will want to install the drip using RTK GPS. If you have a record of where you put the tape it is easier to keep the rows in the right place. My first 120 acres did not use GPS and it is a royal pain in the ass to keep your rows right. 

    Drip is more efficient than pivots and you can raise excellent crops with them. It is not really all that diffent form pivots. You will have breakdowns, leaks, stopped up tapes etc.

    2.
    Scott Boles is one of the best in the business and isn’t that far from you either. He’s like me dyslexic and very good with problems or making thing happen. I use Netafim drip tape, Morrill filters and injection equipment and Senninger pressure regulators. I use regulators for rolling terrain and even water distribution. There’s a lot of line cleaning junk out there today but what I find works best is chlorine. I have a hydrochloric acid injector to maintain 5.5 pH on the water at all times it also inject fertilizer with the system too. Maintaining the 5.5 pH keeps from locking up the NPK in the soils. I also make the chlorine very active and will basically nuke everything. If I want to get real mean with it drop the pH down to 3.0 and it gets violent. 
    Varmint control is an issue and will cause problems but there are several different insecticides that can be injected that make their live miserable. Regent SC is one of the better ones that I can think of. This can be used in a non-crop use. 

    We’re putting down drip tap here under the plastic. When we do corn or beans we plant double row on the top of the bed with 1 drip tape down the middle of them using our Monosem planter.

    3.
    I installed my first drip in 2000. I know guys who have had it in as long as 15 years. there is no need to deep rip. When the water moves up(at least down here in my sandy land) the water moves up. Compaction has not been a problem. Biggest problem is drift which is the crop row moving from away from where it should be. 

    60 inch spacing would probably be the way you would want to go. Good square fields with straight runs are the least expensive. 60 inch spacing will be a little more expensive than 80 inch spacing because it takes more tape. 

    Be careful about what you put in the drip tape. I have seen some problems that can occur when you put the wrong chemical in your drip tape. Some chemicals can have a reaction with some soils(rare but it can happen). Also, I have seen a man stop up his drip tape when injecting fertilizer and infuric acid. The chemicals formed a jell that stopped up the drip emitters. 

    There are chemicals that can work but let someone else make that mistake so you won’t. Afterall, you invest a great deal of money and you don’t want it messed up by injecting the wrong thing. 

    If you are running turbines with drip oil, you may want to take a look at that. I know some that had some problems with the drip oil in the drip irrigation system. They began using a synthetic or something different and solved the problem.

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