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MICRO IRRIGATION

TECHNOLOGY AND APPLICATION


Moshe Sne
Irrigation and Plant Nutrition Consultant
SECOND VERSION

NOVEMBER 2009
FOREWORD
Since my retirement from the Irrigation and Soil Field Service, on October 2001, after
24 years of service as field adviser and 12 years as its manager, I had been asked to
share my experience and know-how with local and foreign farmers. That had been
implemented in courses, surveys and counseling abroad, as well as in written
publications printed by CINADCO and ICID, and in personal exchange by mail and e-
mail. Irrigation technology is so dynamic that updated publication becomes partially
obsolete in two or three years. The opportunity of uploading professional material to
the web by means of the Scribd system enables me to distribute in real time recently
updated material.

The author
September 24 2009

AUTHOR'S NOTE

Since the upload of the first version of this document, on September 24th, I received
some dozens of e-mails from readers with comments and suggestions for
improvements in the document. I found some of the comments and suggestions
worthwhile to be embedded in the document. Additionally, I made adjustments on my
own initiative and replaced some outdated figures in this second version.
I would like to thank all the responders for their valuable contribution.

November 28 2009

I
Chap. CONTENT Page

FOREWORD I
CONTENT II
LIST OF TABLES V
LIST OF FIGURES VI
1 INTRODUCTION 1
2 MICRO IRRIGATION 2
2.1 Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………... 2
2.2 Micro-emitter Classification ……………………………………………………………… 2
2.3 Terminology ……………………………………………………………………………….. 3
2.4 Water Distribution Uniformity ……………………………………………………………. 4
3 DRIPPERS: STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION 7
3.1 Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………... 7
3.2 Types of Drip Systems …………………………………………………………………… 7
3.3 Lateral type ………………………………………………………………………………... 8
3.4 Water Passageway Structure and Characteristics ……………………………………. 8
3.5 Position on Lateral ………………………………………………………........................ 10
3.6 Dedicated Drippers ………………………………………………………………………. 11
3.7 Integral Filtration in Drippers ……………………………………………………………. 14
3.8 Auto Flushing Mechanisms ……………………………………………………………… 14
4 MICRO-JETS AND MICRO-SPRINKLERS 15
4.1 Introduction ……………………………………………………………………………….. 15
4.2 Static Micro-jets …………………………………………………………......................... 16
4.3 Vibrating Micro-jets ………………………………………………………………………. 16
4.4 Micro-sprinklers …………………………………………………………………………… 16
4.5 Bubblers …………………………………………………………………......................... 17
4.6 Water Distribution Patterns ……………………………………………………………… 18
4.7 Pressure Compensation …………………………………………………………………. 19
4.8 Emitter Mounting …………………………………………………………………………. 20
5 THE MICRO-IRRIGATION SYSTEM COMPONENTS 21
5.1 The Water Source ………………………………………………………………………... 21
5.2 The Delivery System ……………………………………………………………………... 21
5.3 Laterals ………………………………………………………………………………….. 22
5.4 Control and Monitoring Devices ………………………………………………………… 22
5.5 Sub Surface Drip Irrigation (SDI) ……………………………………………………….. 24
5.6 Low-Cost Drip Irrigation Systems ………………………………………....................... 25
6 PIPES AND ACCESSORIES 28
6.1 Polyethylene Pipes …..…………………………………………………………………… 28
6.2 PVC Pipes ………………………………………………………………………………… 29
6.3 Lay flat hoses …………………………………………………………………………… 30
6.4 Fiberglass Pipes ………………………………………………………………………….. 30
6.5 External and Internal Pipe Diameters ………………………………………………….. 31
6.6 Accessories ……………………………………………………………………………….. 31
7 WATER TREATMENT AND FILTRATION 37
7.1 Physical Quality Parameters ……………………………………………………………. 37
7.2 Chemical Quality Parameters …………………………………………………………… 37
7.3 Emitter Clogging Factors ………………………………………………………………… 37
7.4 Water Hardness …………………………………………………………………………... 38
7.5 Iron and Manganese in Water ………………………………………………………….. 38

II
7.6 Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) ………………………………………………….. 39
7.7 Filtration …………………………………………………………………………………… 39
7.8 Supplementary Water Treatments ……………………………………………………… 47
8 FERTIGATION 49
8.1 Fertilizer Tank …………………………………………………………………………….. 49
8.2 Venturi Injector ……………………………………………………………………………. 49
8.3 Injection Pumps …………………………………………………………………………... 50
8.4 Injection Site ………………………………………………………………………………. 51
8.5 Control and Automation ………………………………………………………………….. 51
8.6 Avoiding Corrosion Damage ……………………………………………....................... 52
8.7 Back-Flow Prevention ……………………………………………………………………. 52
9 MONITORING AND CONTROL 53
9.1 Monitoring …………………………………………………………………………………. 53
9.2 Irrigation Control ………………………………………………………………………….. 55
10 FLOW RATE – PRESSURE RELATIONSHIP 57
10.1 Water Pressure …………………………………………………………………………… 57
10.2 Head Losses ……………………………………………………………………………… 58
10.3 Operating Pressure ……………………………………………………………………… 61
10.4 Hydraulic Characteristics of Emitters …………………………………………………... 62
10.5 Calculation of the Head Losses ………………………………………………………… 64
10.6 Technical Data ……………………………………………………………………………. 64
11 WATER DISTRIBUTION 67
11.1 Soil Wetting Patterns ……………………………………………………………………. 67
11.2 Salt Distribution …………….…………………………………………………………….. 69
11.3 Soil Properties that Affect Water Distribution Pattern ………………………………… 69
11.4 Wetting Width and Depth ………………………………………………………………... 70
11.5 Nutrient Distribution ………………………………………………………………………. 70
11.6 Root System Development Under Drip Irrigation ………………………..................... 71
12 PLANNING OF MICRO IRRIGATION SYSTEMS 72
12.1 Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………... 72
12.2 Planning …………………………………………………………………………………… 72
12.3 Data Manipulation……………………..…………………………………........................ 74
12.4 Existing Equipment ………………………………………………………………………. 78
12.5 Planning of Drip Irrigation for Different Crops …………………………...................... 79
13 DESIGN OF MICRO IRRIGATION SYSTEMS 85
13.1 Basic Guidelines …………………………………………………………....................... 85
13.2 The Design Procedure …………………………………………………………………… 85
13.3 Design of Drip Irrigation System for Row Crops ………………………………………. 88
13.4 Sub-Surface Drip Irrigation (SDI) ………………………………………....................... 98
13.5 Design of Drip Irrigation in Protected Crops …………………………………………… 99
13.6 Design of Irrigation Systems in Greenhouses ………………………………………… 100
13.7 Drip Irrigation Design for Orchards …………………………………………………….. 100
13.8 Design of Micro-jet and Micro-sprinkler Systems for Orchards ……………………… 110
14 MAINTENANCE OF MICRO IRRIGATION SYSTEMS 117
14.1 General ……………………………………………………………………………………. 117
14.2 Critical Issues in Installation …………………………………………………………….. 117
14.3 Routine Inspection ………………………………………………………........................ 118
14.4 Routine Maintenance ……………………………………………………....................... 119
14.5 Chemical Water Treatments ……………………………………………………………. 122

III
15 NOMOGRAMS FOR ESTIMATION OF HEAD LOSSES IN PIPES AND
ACCESSORIES 123
16 BIBLIOGRAPHY 128
17 GLOSSARY 133

IV
No. LIST OF TABLES Page

6.1 PE (polyethylene) pipes for agriculture…………………………………………………. 28


6.2 LDPE pipe internal diameter and wall thickness………………………………………. 29
6.3 HDPE pipe inner diameter and wall thickness…………………………………………. 29
6.4 PVC pipes for agriculture………………………………………………………………… 30
6.5 Rigid PVC pipes internal diameter and wall thickness………………………………... 30
6.6 Spring actuated pressure regulators……………………………………………………. 34
7.1 Relative clogging potential of drip irrigation systems by water contaminants………. 38
7.2 Characteristics of water passages in drippers (example)…………………………….. 39
7.3 Screen Perforation Examples …………………………………………………………… 40
7.4 Sand particle size and mesh equivalent………………………………………………... 42
7.5 Nominal filter capacity – examples ……………………………………………………... 44
10.1 Pressure and water potential units ……………………………………………………... 57
10.2 Friction Coefficients ……………………………………………………………………… 52
10.3 Multiple outlets factor F ………………………………………………………………….. 62
10.4 Effect of dripper exponent on pressure – flow rate relationships ……………………. 63
10.5 Example of integral drip lateral technical data ………………………………………… 65
10.6 Max. Allowed lateral length for non-compensated line drippers (example) ………. 65
10.7 Allowed lateral length for pressure compensated drippers (example) ……………… 66
13.1 Compensating dripper (compensating pressure threshold – 4 m) data ……………. 89
13.2 Max. Lateral length – m, Model 16012, ID = 13.70 mm, Inlet pressure 3.0 bars ….. 89
13.3 Max. Lateral length – m, Model 16009, ID = 14.20 mm, Inlet pressure 3.0 bars ….. 89
13.4 Non compensating thick wall dripper pressure – flow rate relationship ……………. 90
13.5 Max. Lateral length in non compensating thick wall dripper …………………………. 90
13.6 Non compensating thin wall dripper ……………………………………………………. 91
13.7 . Max. Lateral length in non compensating thin wall dripper ………………………… 91
13.8 The compatible drippers ………………………………………………………………… 92
13.9 Design Form: COMPENSATING RAM DRIPPER 16012, 1.6 L/H, PRESSURE IN INLET 30 m 94
13.10 Thin-wall tape data ……………………………………………………………………….. 97
13.2 (Duplicate) Max. Lateral length – m 16012 compensating dripper laterals………… 103
13.11 Basic data …………………………………………………………………………………. 104
13.12 HEAD LOSSES CALCULATION FORM ………………………………………………. 106
13.13 Head Losses In The Control Head, flow rate 56 m3/h ………………………………... 106
13.14 Head Losses In The Hydraulic Valves On The Sub-Mains flow rate 14 m3/h ……... 107
13.15 Total requested dynamic head …………………………………………………………. 107
13.16 Second alternative – compensating dripper laterals – Basic data ………………….. 108
13.17 Head-loss calculation …………………………………………………………………….. 109
13.18 Total requested dynamic head …………………………………………………………. 109
13.19 The chosen emitter - Non regulated Jet sprayer performance data ………………… 111
13.20 Allowed length of laterals, Emitter type: Jet+ (Red) – lph ……………………………. 112
13.21 Basic data …………………………………………………………………………………. 113
13.22 Head-loss calculation …………………………………………………………………….. 115
13.23 Total requested dynamic head ………………………………………………………….. 115

V
No. LIST OF FIGURES PAGE

3.1 Point-source (left) and line-source (right) wetting patterns by drippers ……………. 8
3.2 In-line barbed semi-turbulent dripper and in-line integral turbulent dripper ……….. 9
3.3 Evolution of the passageway style …………………………………………………….. 9
3.4 Turbulent flow …………………………………………………………………………….. 9
3.5 Orifice dripper ……………………………………………………………………………. 9
3.6 Vortex dripper …………………………………………………………………………….. 9
3.7 Labyrinth button dripper …………………………………………………………………. 9
3.8 Tape dripper lateral: empty and filled with water ……………………………………... 10
3.9 On-line drippers ………………………………………………………………………….. 10
3.10 Button drippers connector design ……………………………………………………… 10
3.11 Adjustable dripper and flag dripper …………………………………………………… 11
3.12 Flexible diaphragm under pressure ……………………………………………………. 11
3.13 Button and inline PC drippers …………………………………………………………... 11
3.14 Cylindrical PC dripper: water passageway length changed under high pressure … 11
3.15 Flap equipped dripper …………………………………………………………………… 12
3.16 Woodpecker drippers ……………………………………………………………………. 12
3.17 Arrow dripper for greenhouses, nurseries and pot plants …………………………… 13
3.18 Six outlets dripper ……………………………………………………………………….. 13
3.19 Ultra low flow micro-drippers …………………………………………………………… 14
3.20 Integral dripper filters ……………………………………………………………………. 14
3.21 Auto flushing, pressure compensating dripper ……………………………………….. 14
4.1 Micro-emitters ……………………………………………………………………………. 15
4.2 Modular Micro-emitters …………………………………………………………………. 15
4.3 Static micro-jets ………………………………………………………………………….. 16
4.4 Vibrating micro-jet, micro-sprinklers and vortex micro-jet …………………………… 17
4.5 Modular micro-sprinkler …………………………………………………………………. 17
4.6 Bridge micro-sprinkler and bubbler …………………………………………………….. 18
4.7 Water distribution by micro-sprinkler at different flow rates …………………………. 19
4.8 Ray-jet (fan-jet) distribution patterns …………………………………………………... 19
4.9 Micro-emitters mounting alternatives ………………………………………………….. 20
5.1 Typical layout of drip irrigation system ………………………………………………… 22
5.2 Control head ……………………………………………………………………………… 24
5.3 Bucket and drum kits …………………………………………………………………… 25
5.4 Family Drip System (FDS) ……………………………………………………………… 26
5.5 Treadle pump at work and close-up …………………………………………………… 27
6.1 Plastic and metal connectors …………………………………………………………… 31
6.2 Start connectors, plugs and lateral ends ……………………………………………… 32
6.3 Lock fastened connectors ………………………………………………………………. 32
6.4 Connectors and splitters ………………………………………………………………… 32
6.5 Valves ……………………………………………………………………………………... 32
6.6 Hydraulic valve operating principle …………………………………………………….. 33
6.7 Pressure regulators ……………………………………………………………………… 33
6.8 Control valves ……………………………………………………………………………. 34
6.9 Air Relief Valves …………………………………………………………………………. 35
6.10 Atmospheric vacuum breakers …………………………………………………………. 36
6.11 Lateral-end flushing action ……………………………………………………………… 36
6.12 Lateral-end flusher components ……………………………………………………….. 36
7.1 Screen filter ………………………………………………………………………………. 40

VI
7.2 Head losses in clean screen filters …………………………………………………….. 40
7.3 Disc filter ………………………………………………………………………………….. 41
7.4 Media filters ………………………………………………………………………………. 41
7.5 Sand separator working pattern ………………………………………………………... 42
7.6 Hydro-cyclone sand separator – head losses and optimal flow rates ……………… 43
7.7 Automatic flushing of disk filter …………………………………………………………. 45
7.8 High capacity media filter array ………………………………………………………… 46
7.9 Back-flushing of media filters …………………………………………………………… 46
7.10 High capcity automatic filter …………………………………………………………….. 46
7.11 Compact automatic filter ………………………………………………………………… 46
1.12 Treflan impregnated disc filter and its discs stack ……………………………………. 47
8.1 Fertilizer tank ……………………………………………………………………………... 49
8.2 Venturi injector …………………………………………………………………………… 49
8.3 Piston and diaphragm hydraulic pumps ………………………………………………. 50
8.4 No-drain hydraulic pump ………………………………………………………………... 50
8.5 Mixer array ………………………………………………………………………………... 51
8.6 Electric pump …………………………………………………………………………….. 51
8.7 Tandem backflow preventer ……………………………………………………………. 52
9.1 Tensiometers …………………………………………………………………………….. 53
9.2 Watermark granular sensor …………………………………………………………….. 53
9.3 Time domain transmissometry sensor ………………………………………………… 53
9.4 . The pressure bomb …………………………………………………………………….. 54
9.5 Fertilizer and water controller …………………………………………………………... 55
9.6 Integrated monitoring and control ……………………………………………………… 56
10.1 On-line Dripper Connection …………………………………………………………….. 59
10.2 Head losses in hydraulic valves ………………………………………………………... 60
10.3 Relationship between the dripper exponent and lateral length ……………………... 63
10.4 Non-pressure compensating flow-pressure relationships …………………………… 64
10.5 Pressure Compensating dripper flow-pressure relationship ………………………… 64
11.1 Water distribution in the soil: in on-surface drip irrigation. And in SDI …………….. 67
11.2 Water distribution from a single dripper in loamy and sandy soil. 4 l/h and 16 l/h
flow rates, 4, 8, 16 l dose ……………………………………………………………….. 68
11.3 Salt distribution in the wetted volume …………………………………………………. 69
11.4 Leaching of salt into the active root-zone by rain …………………………………….. 69
11.5 Diverse root systems ……………………………………………………………………. 71
11.6 Typical root systems of field crops …………………………………………………….. 71
11.7 Root system in sprinkler irrigation vs. root system in drip irrigation .……………….. 72
12.1 Wetting patterns by drippers in different soil types …………………………………... 74
12.2 Ellipsoid …………………………………………………………………………………… 76
12.3 Drip irrigation layouts in orchards ……………………………………………………… 78
12.4 Dripper layouts in wide-spaced orchards ……………………………………………… 78
12.5 Mechanized deployment of drip laterals ………………………………………………. 80
12.6 Cotton root development ………………………………………………………………... 80
12.7 Potatoes - Laterals on top of hillocks ………………………………………………….. 81
12.8 Wide-scale drip irrigation in greenhouses …………………………………………….. 83
12.9 Drip irrigation of potted plants in greenhouse ………………………………………… 84
12.10 Roadside drip irrigation ………………………………………………………………….. 84
13.1 Different design layouts …………………………………………………………………. 86
13.2 Manifolds save accessories cost ………………………………………………………. 87
13.3 Maize retrievable drip irrigation system layout ……………………………………….. 93

VII
13.4 SDI layout ………………………………………………………………………………… 98
13.5 thin-wall non-compensating laterals in strawberries – excessive head losses … 99
13.6 Apple orchard – 9.6 Ha ………………………………………………………………….. 101
13.7 Non-compensating on-line drippers flow rate -pressure relationship ………………. 103
13.8 Two of the feasible layouts ………………………………………………………….. 104
13.9 Non- compensating drip system ……………………………………………………….. 105
13.10 Compensating drip system ……………………………………………………………… 108
13.11 Citrus grove - 11.5 ha. …………………………………………………………………... 111
13.12 Micro-jet irrigation system in citrus grove ……………………………………………... 114
14.1 Punch and holder ………………………………………………………………………… 117
14.2 Automatic lateral end flushing valve …………………………………………………… 119
14.3 Vertical stake …………………………………………………………………………….. 120
15.1 Nomogram for calculation of head losses in water flowing in pipes ………………... 123
15.2 Nomogram for calculation of head losses in LDPE pipes. Class designation
relates to the working pressure (PN) in bar …………………………………………… 124
15.3 Nomogram for calculation of head losses in HDPE pipes. The class designation
relates to the working pressure (PN) in bar …………………………………………… 125
15.4 Nomogram for calculation of head losses in PVC pipes. The class designation
relates to the working pressure (PN) in bar …………………………………………… 126
15.5 Nomogram for calculation of local head losses in valves and other accessories
and fittings ………………………………………………………………………………… 127

VIII
1. INTRODUCTION
Water scarcity, soaring energy costs, deterioration of agricultural land and
desertification, threaten agricultural development and food production for the fast
growing world population.
Irrigated agriculture increases yield per land unit twice up to ten-fold, compared to
non-irrigated farming.
The principle irrigation technologies are surface irrigation, mechanized irrigation,
sprinkler irrigation and micro irrigation.
Surface irrigation is regarded as the most wasteful technology. Irrigation efficiency is
mostly below 40%. In sprinkler and mechanized irrigation, the efficiency ranges from
60% to 85%. In micro irrigation, the efficiency can attain 90% - 95%.
Micro irrigation is well-suited to harsh environmental conditions. Partial wetting of the
soil volume, superior emission uniformity and a high level of water application control,
facilitate efficient utilization of restricted water resources.
The application of the water in partial, limited soil volume improves the leaching of
salts out of the active root-zone. This raises the upper threshold of permitted salt
content in irrigation water than with full surface wetting technologies. The frequent
applications of water that are mandatory in micro irrigation dilute the soil solution and
keep salt concentration low. Drip irrigation, in particular, minimizes evaporation
losses from the air and soil surface compared with sprinkler, border and furrow
irrigation.
Salinization of irrigated lands is one of the most widespread causes of desertification
(conversion of cultivated land to desert). More than one million hectares of arable
land are lost every year due to salinization. Micro irrigation, particularly drip irrigation,
facilitates the suspension of this process by leaching the accumulating salts out of
the active root-zone. The amount of water needed for adequate salt leaching is
significantly smaller than the leaching requirement in sprinkler, border and furrow
irrigation.
Wide-scale use of drip irrigation commenced in the Middle East, in arid regions in
Israel and disseminated extensively in arid and semi-arid areas all over the world.
The concept of Regulated Deficit Irrigation (RDI) - partial replenishment of the water
consumed by the crop is gaining momentum in arid and semi-arid regions. Under this
irrigation regime, the varying stress sensitivity in different phenological phases is
exploited to reduce water dosage. In the tolerant phases, the soil water deficit is only
partially replenished, maintaining the crop in mild stress that has no serious impact
on yield and the produce quality.
In some crops, salinity can be exploited to improve produce quality. High salt content
in irrigation water improves the produce quality in tomatoes and melons, at the
expense of yield. An economical balance point exists in which the premium for quality
compensates for loss in yield.

1
2. MICRO IRRIGATION
2.1. Introduction
The term micro irrigation refers to irrigation technologies employing water emitters
with tiny apertures that deliver water at a low flow rate. There is no definite distinction
between low volume sprinklers for irrigation and micro-sprinklers used in micro
irrigation, but emitters with flow rates lower than 200 l/h can be regarded as micro
emitters. Micro irrigation is one of the pressurized irrigation technologies alongside
sprinkler irrigation and mechanized irrigation technologies.
Four principal characteristics distinguish micro irrigation from the other pressurized
irrigation technologies:
a. Low flow rate
b. Localized, partial wetting of the soil surface and soil volume while in
sprinkler irrigation in field crops and vegetables the soil surface is wetted
entirely.
c. Frequent water applications are needed due to the limited wetted
volume.
d. Low operating pressure, compared with sprinkler irrigation.
2.2 Micro-emitters Classification
Micro-emitters are classified in two principal groups in respect to water emitting
patterns. The functional objectives of the emitters are distinctive in both groups.
In the first group, water is applied directly to the soil in discrete drops (by drippers) or
as a continuous stream (by bubblers). The objective of the water passageways is to
maximize pressure dissipation, to approach atmospheric pressure in the emitter
outlet.
In the second group, water is conveyed through the air and applied to the soil as
spray, mist or multiple discrete jets. Pressure dissipation is kept to a minimum in
order to enable the water to be adequately spattered on the desired surface area.
Each group is further subdivided in regard to the working patterns:
2.2.1. Emitters for direct application to the soil:
2.2.1.1 Drippers
2.2.1.2 Bubblers
2.2.2. Emitters for water application through the air:
2.2.2.1 Static emitters
2.2.2.1.1 Sprayers
2.2.2.1.2 Ray microjets (fan-jets)
2.2.2.1.3. Misters and foggers
2.2.2.2 Vibrating emitters
2.2.2.3 Rotating emitters

2
2.2.2.3.1. Micro sprinklers
2.2.2.3.2. Rotators
2.2.2.3.3. Spinners
Micro irrigation holds four obvious advantages over most other irrigation
technologies:
a. High efficiency in water application.
b. Improved plant nutrition management.
c. Better salinity handling.
d. Low energy requirement compared with sprinkler and mechanized
irrigation.
The basic planning and design procedures are similar in the two micro irrigation
technologies. Since drip irrigation is the most widespread technology, it receives
more coverage than spray technology in this publication.
2.3. Terminology
Certain terms relating to irrigation have different interpretations in micro irrigation
than in conventional sprinkler irrigation.
2.3.1. Application Rate
In full surface area wetting technologies such as sprinkler or border irrigation, the
application rate is designated as the volume of water applied over area unit during a
time unit. The application rate is expressed in units of l/m2/hour, m3/ha/hour or
mm/hour. The last unit indicates the depth of the applied water volume equally
spread on the irrigated area. E.g.: 1 mm water depth over 1 m2 area (1,000,000 mm2)
is: 1 mm × 1,000,000 mm2 = 1,000,000 mm3 (micro liters). 1,000,000 micro liters =
1000 milliliters = 1 liter/1 m2. Since 1 ha consists of 10,000 m2, 1mm water depth =
10,000 l/ha = 10 m3/ha.
In localized micro irrigation, the water does not spread evenly on the soil surface.
The term Irrigation Rate (IR) designates a virtual value. The applied water quantity
per hour over the irrigated area is addressed as if coverage is uniform.
The virtual irrigation rate per single emitter will be its flow rate over spacing between
emitters.
Example:
Emitter flow rate: 2 l/h
Spacing 3 × 0.5 m
Irrigation Rate = 2 / (3 × 0.5) = 1.333 l/m/h = 13.33 m3/ha/h
2.3.2. Water Distribution
The water that spread unevenly on the soil surface and in the soil volume makes it
impractical to consider Distribution Uniformity the same as in sprinkler and border
irrigation. The wetted volume by a single emitter has variable moisture levels as a
function of distance from emitter, soil properties and water dose. Hence the
uniformity of water distribution in micro irrigation is expressed differently than in
sprinkler irrigation. The common term is Emission Uniformity (EU) that indicates the
variance between emitters in a representative sample. The calculation for EU is the
same as the calculation for DU but it relates to variance between emitters and not to
application to area unit.

3
2.3.3. Distribution of Chemicals
The distribution of dissolved chemicals (salts, nutrition elements) in micro irrigation
has also different pattern than in other irrigation methods. This pattern is beneficial
for nutrition and salt management but obliges strict precautions to be taken in acute
climatic events like heat spells and early rains after a dry period.
2.4. Water Distribution Uniformity
2.4.1. Irrigation Efficiency
Irrigation Efficiency (IE) is an important parameter for the evaluation of irrigation
excellence.
Water beneficially used (Eq. 2.1)
IE = --------------------------------------------------
Total applied water
Water beneficially used is the sum of the water amounts applied for the
replenishment of water used for evapo-transpiration from the plant and the soil
surface, for fertilizer and pesticide application, for salt leaching, for frost protection
and for crop cooling.
Micro irrigation facilitates the application of even volume of water to every plant in the
irrigated plot. This requires suitable spacing between laterals and emitters as well as
an appropriate pressure regime.
Application Uniformity can be expressed by different indices. A uniformity of 100%
means that each point within the plot area gets exactly the same amount of irrigation
water. When uniformity is low, certain sections of the plot receive less water than
others. In order for those sections to receive sufficient amount of water, extra water
amount has to be applied to the plot as a whole. As the application uniformity is
lower, the required amount of extra water will be greater. Application uniformity is
particularly important with drip irrigation systems, due to the cumulative nature of
non-uniformity embodied in factors that determine the dripper's flow rate.
2.4.2. Distribution Uniformity
A common index of application uniformity is DU (Distribution Uniformity). For
calculating this value, the flow rate of a representative sample (40 - 100 emitters
randomly selected in different sections of the irrigated plot) is measured.
Q25%
DU = 100 × ------------------ (Eq. 2.2)
Qn
Where: Q25% is the average flow rate of 25% of the emitters with the lowest flow rate,
and Qn is the average flow rate of all the sampled emitters.
DU significance:
>87% - excellent distribution uniformity
75% - 87% - good uniformity
62% - 75% - acceptable
<62% - unacceptable.
Variability in the flow rate depends on the pressure regime, the manufacturing
variance of the emitters and partial emitter clogging.

4
2.4.3. Manufacturer’s Coefficient of Variation (Cvm)
No two emitters can be identically manufactured; there will be always a certain
variation. The flow rate uniformity of new emitters is evaluated with the
Manufacturing Coefficient of Variation (Cvm).
Cvm indicates the variability in the flow rate of a random sample of a given emitter
model, just off the production line before any field operation or degradation has taken
place.
The flow rate variation in manufacturing is determined statistically. Randomly
selected emitter samples or a lateral segment are tested under constant pressure.
The Cvm is defined as the standard deviation over the average flow rate of a sample
of emitters. It is expressed as a decimal fraction or percentage. (0.01 = 1%)
According to the formula:
Sdm
Cvm = -------- (Eq. 2.3)
Xm
Where: Cvm = manufacturer coefficient of variation,
Sdm = standard deviation,
Xm = mean flow rate.
A Cvm of 0.1 (10%) means normal distribution (a “bell shaped” curve), where 68 % of
all emitter flow rates are more or less within 10% deviation from the mean flow rate.
The emitter design, materials used in production, and manufacturing precision
determine the variance in any particular emitter type.
The standard ranking of variability is as follows:
a. For point source emitters:
Cvm <0.05 - excellent
0.05 - 0.07 – average
0.07 - 0.11 – marginal
0.11 – 0.15 – poor
>0.15 – unacceptable
With recent improvements in manufacturing technology, most emitters have Cvm <
0.10. Pressure compensating emitters have a somewhat higher Cvm than non-
compensating labyrinth path emitters, due to the cumulative variability of the
passageway and the compensating mechanism.
b. For line source emitters (comparison of 1 m length segments):
Cvm <0.10 - good
0.10 – 0.20 – average
> 0.20 – marginal to unacceptable
2.4.4. Emission Uniformity
The Emission Uniformity (EU) conforms to Distribution Uniformity.
A controversy still exists about whether or not to consider Cvm to determine Emission
Uniformity when designing irrigation systems.
The stringent attitude claims that Cvm is one of the cumulative factors that determine
the uniformity of water distribution and has to be taken into account.

5
In this case, Emission Uniformity will be calculated using the following formula:

1.27Cvm qm
[
EU =100 1.0 ----------------
√n
]q--------
a
(Eq. 2.4)

Where
EU = the design Emission Uniformity, %.
n = for a point-source emitter in a perennial crop, the number of emitters per plant; for
a line-source emitter in an annual or perennial row crop, either the horizontal rooting
diameter of the plants, divided by the same unit length of lateral line used to calculate
Cvm or 1, which of these variables that is greater.
Cvm = manufacturer’s coefficient of variation.
qm = minimum emitter flow rate in the sample, l/h.
qa = average or design emitter flow rate for the related sample, l/h.
The lenient attitude claims that since emitters with a dissimilar flow rate are randomly
located, the Cvm has to be ignored in evaluating Emission Uniformity in the design
process.
It has to be emphasized that the Design Emission Uniformity is relevant only for
new equipment before field operation. Once the system has been operated, there is
degradation of the Emission Uniformity due to full or partial clogging of emitters,
deformation of emitters and compensating membranes and damage to hoses and
tapes by environmental and mechanical factors. High-level maintenance, routine
periodical inspections and corrective measures are required to lessen the
degradation in water distribution uniformity within an irrigated plot over the long term.
2.4.5. Flow Variation of Emitters on the Lateral
This compares maximum and minimum emitter flow rates along a single lateral.
qvar = (qmax - qmin)/qmax (Eq. 2.5)
or
qvar = 1 – (qmin / qmax) (Eq 2.6)
Where qmax is the maximum emitter flow rate, qmin is the minimum emitter flow rate,
and qvar is the emitter flow rate variation. It is assumed that the manufacturer's emitter
flow variation follows normal distribution so that the mean value plus two standard
deviations is considered as the maximum flow rate, and the mean value minus two
standard deviations is considered as the minimum emitter flow rate. This range
covers over 95% of the emitter flow rates measured in the tests.
Relating test results to the manufacturer’s Cvm indicates that with a manufacturing
Cvm of 0.05 = 5%, the difference between maximum and minimum flow rates on the
lateral may be 15%.

6
3. DRIPPERS - STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION
3.1. Introduction
Drippers, the core of the drip irrigation system, are small water emitters made of
plastic materials. The design and production of high quality drippers is comprised of
delicate and complicated processes.
The basic indispensable attributes of a dripper:
a. Low flow rate (discharge): 0.5 – 8 liter per hour (l/h).
b. Low vulnerability to clogging.
c. Low production cost and durability.
Attaining low flow rate necessitates a high extent of pressure dissipation. The flow
rate is determined by the pattern and dimensions of the dripper’s water passageway
as well as the water pressure at the dripper inlet. The smaller the passageway cross-
section, the lower the dripper flow rate at a given pressure. However, the narrower
the passageway, the greater the risk of plugging by suspended solid particles and
chemical precipitates.
Since the dissipated water pressure en route to the dripper's outlet is a key factor in
determining its flow rate, sophisticated passageway patterns have been developed
for high pressure dissipation.
3.2. Types of Drip Systems
Drip systems can be classified in respect to a variety of parameters:
3.2.1 Spatial Placement of Laterals
3.2.1.1. On-Surface Drip Irrigation
The dominant drip technology is on-surface drip irrigation. In this arrangement,
monitoring and control of the drippers' performance is convenient and effective. On
the other hand, the laterals are prone to mechanical damage and degradation by
solar radiation and may interfere with farming activity. In annuals, seasonal
deployment and retrieval of the laterals is obligatory and annoying. In vineyards, kiwi
plantations and palmetta-shaped deciduous orchards, laterals are hanged on trellises
in order to relieve monitoring of dripper function and minimize mechanical damage.
3.2.1.2. Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI)
SDI has gathered momentum over the last two decades.
3.2.1.2.1. SDI Main Advantages:
a. Negligible interference with farm activity
b. Elimination of mechanical damage to laterals
c. Decreased weed infestation
d. Elimination of runoff and evaporation from soil surface
e. Improved uptake of nutrition elements by the roots, notably phosphorous.
3.2.1.2.2. SDI Main Disadvantages:
a. High installation costs
b. Plugging hazard by intruding roots and sucked-in soil particles
c. Inconvenience in monitoring the performance of drippers and laterals
d. Strict maintenance is mandatory

7
3.2.2. Layout of Water Outlets along the Lateral
Two typical layouts of drippers on laterals determine the water distribution pattern in
the soil.
3.2.2.1. Point Sources
In this layout, drippers are mounted or inserted along the laterals at length intervals
that create a discrete wetted soil volume by each emitter, without overlapping. In
orchard irrigation and in widely spaced annuals, thick walled hose laterals are
favored.

Fig. 3.1. Point-source (left) and line-source (right) wetting patterns


3.2.2.2. Line Sources
Drippers are densely positioned along the lateral, ensuring overlapping of the wetted
soil volumes by adjacent drippers. This layout is typical in tape design and is the
favored choice for densely grown annual crops.
3.3. Lateral Type
3.3.1. Thick-Walled Hoses
Thick-walled hoses, used as drip laterals are made of Low Density Polyethylene
(LDPE) of 12 – 25 mm external diameter and 1 – 2 mm wall thickness. The discrete
drippers are mounted on-line or inserted inline, 10 – 100 cm apart. The normal
working pressure (PN) is 1 – 4 bar (10 – 40 m).
3.3.2. Thin-Walled Laterals
Thin-walled laterals may be manufactured as hoses or tapes. The thin-walled hose
keeps its cylindrical cross section also when it is empty while the tape lies flat when it
is not filled with water. The tapes are also made of LDPE. However, the wall
thickness is only 0.1 – 0.9 mm and the PN is 0.1 – 1 bar (1 – 10 m). Laterals may be
fitted with discrete molded or inserted drippers. Some tapes have contiguous
pressure dissipating passageways as integral components.
3.4. Water Passageway Structure and Characteristics
3.4.1. Long Laminar or Semi-turbulent Path
The water flows through a narrow, long micro-tube. The micro-tube may be long
(spaghetti) or a built-in spiral in a capsulation. Water flow is laminar in the spaghetti
and semi turbulent in the built-in spiral. The friction of water with the tube walls plus
the internal friction between water molecules results in pressure dissipation. The flow
rate of laminar-flow drippers is specifically sensitive to changes in pressure. The long

8
water path and low flow velocity bring about deposition of chemical precipitates that
alter the dripper's flow rate. In extreme cases, the emitter is fully plugged.

Fig. 3.2. In-line barbed semi-turbulent dripper (left) and in-line integral turbulent dripper (right)

3.4.2. Labyrinth Path Preliminary


laminar
The water flows along a design
labyrinth in which the flow
direction changes abruptly. Semi
The recurrent changes in turbulent
direction result in turbulent dripper
flow, high-energy losses and
decreased flow rate. The Labyrinth
labyrinth passageway is wider passageway
and shorter than the laminar
path of the same flow rate. The Toothed
turbulent flow flushes the (zigzag)
corners of the twisted water passageway
path, decreasing clogging
events. The flow rate in a TurboNet
labyrinth dripper is less passageway
affected by changes in Fig. 3.3. Evolution of the passageway style Courtesy “Netafim”
pressure, compared with
laminar flow. The short path
facilitates fabrication of
smaller, cheaper drippers. Fig. 3.4. Turbulent flow from "DIS" brochure
3.4.3. Zigzag (toothed) Path
This passageway form has higher pressure dissipation and better self-cleaning
attributes. Enhanced version of the toothed passageway - TurboNet - allows for
shorter, wider water passageways.

Fig. 3.5. Orifice dripper Fig. 3.6. Vortex dripper Fig. 3.7. Labyrinth button dripper
Adapted from Karmeli & Keller, 1975 Adapted from Karmeli & Keller, 1975 Courtesy "Netafim"

9
3.4.4. Vortex Drippers
In vortex drippers, water enters tangentially into a circular chamber, creating a spiral
whirlpool that generates high head losses along a relatively short path. This allows
for a wide-outlet orifice that decreases clogging hazard.
3.4.5. Orifice Drippers
Pressure dissipation occurs at a tiny inlet in the bottom of the dripper, rendering it
prone to plugging.
3.4.6. . Tape Laterals
Trickling tapes are made of thin walled plastic tubes. When empty, the pipe lies flat. It
gets a cylindrical cross section when filled with water. Water emission can take place
directly through tiny perforations in the wall or through molded labyrinth
passageways. The first-mentioned design is prone to partial or full clogging of the
perforations and its emission uniformity degrades with time.

Fig. 3.8. Tape trickling lateral: empty (left) and filled with water (right) Adapted from "T-Tape" brochure

3.5. Position on Lateral


Drippers can be mounted externally on the lateral (on-line), or inserted in-line.

Fig. 3.9. On-line drippers Courtesy "Netafim"

3.5.1. On-Line Mounted Drippers


On-line drippers are mounted through
punched holes. Drippers can be added to the
laterals with time to answer changes in crop
development and water requirements.
The dripper has a threaded or barbed joint
that is screwed or inserted into thick-wall
hoses. Because it protrudes from the lateral,
it is prone to damage in delivery, installation
and retrieval. Fig. 3.10. Button drippers connector design

10
3.5.2. In-Line Inserted Drippers
In-line drippers leave the outer face of the lateral smooth. Two versions are available:
3.5.2.1. Built-in Drippers
The drippers are fused into the lateral during its extrusion process.
3.5.2.2. Barbed Drippers
Each dripper joins two segments of the lateral.
3.6. Dedicated Drippers
3.6.1. Adjustable Drippers
3.6.2. Flag Emitters
The dripper has a twisting locker that facilitates
cleansing of clogged drippers while water continues
to flow in the lateral.
3.6.3. Pressure Compensating (PC) Drippers
The flow rate of compensating emitters remains uniform provided the pressure in
dripper's inlet is kept above a given minimum threshold. The compensating
mechanism narrows or lengthens the internal water passageway as the pressure
rises, adjusting the friction head losses that keep the flow rate constant.
3.6.3.1. Flexible Membrane above
Water Path
As the pressure above the diaphragm
rises, the water passageway below the
diaphragm narrows, increasing head
losses and decreasing the flow rate.

Fig. 3.12. Flexible diaphragm under


Fig. 3.13. Button and inline PC drippers
pressure Courtesy "Netafim"

3.6.3.2. Changing the Length of the


Water Flow Path
Pressure compensation is accomplished by changing the effective length of the water
path. The higher the pressure the longer the effective passageway, rendering higher
head loss.

Fig. 3.14. Cylindrical PC dripper: water passageway lengthened under high pressure
From "Mezerplas" brochure

11
3.6.4. Non-Leakage (No Drain) Drippers
Draining of drip laterals after water shutdown promotes accumulation of precipitates
at the bottom of the laterals and in the dripper's water passageway. Additionally, time
elapses from the renewal of water supply until the laterals are filled with water and
the desired working pressure builds-up. During this interval, the flow rate of the initial
drippers in the lateral is significantly higher than that of the drippers at the distal end.
Frequent small water applications, makes this time segment of uneven emission a
significant part of the irrigation time length, decreasing application uniformity.
These results generate a substantial variance in water dosage between the initial and
the distal ends of the laterals and in the irrigated plot as a whole.
Non-leakage drippers eliminate drain of the laterals
after water shutdown by sealing the dripper's outlet
as the pressure drops. This facilitates rapid
pressure build-up in the laterals at the start of
irrigation.
3.6.5. Flap Equipped Drippers
Drippers equipped with a flap on the water outlet Fig. 3.15. Flap equipped dripper
eliminate suction of small soil particles into the dripper by back siphonage at
shutdown, as well as the intrusion of roots into drip laterals in subsurface drip
systems.
Bug cover Woodpecker
3.6.6. Woodpecker Drippers

These drippers are used in areas prone to


woodpecker activity. The birds, while
looking for water, drill holes in the laterals.
Preventive action is taken by burying
laterals with the woodpecker drippers
underground and connecting thin micro-
tubes to the dripper outlet. The distal end
of the micro-tube is laid on the soil surface.
3.6.7. Trifluraline Impregnated
Drippers
For long-term prevention of root intrusion Fig. 3.16. Woodpecker drippers
into subsurface drip laterals, the herbicide Trifluraline (TreflanTM) is impregnated into
the drippers during the production process. After the installation of the subsurface
laterals, small amounts of the herbicide are released with each water application into
the soil adjacent to the dripper, sterilizing its immediate vicinity. Drippers
impregnated with Trifluraline can substitute routine Treflan application for up to 15
years.

12
Fig. 3.17. Arrow dripper for greenhouses, nurseries and pot plants Courtesy "Netafim"
3.6.8. Arrow Drippers
Arrow dippers are used for the irrigation of potted plants. The stake-styled dripper is
inserted into the growing bed. A high capacity built-in filter and efficient zigzag
turbulent water passageway keep the tiny dripper unplugged and reliable for long-
term use.
3.6.9. Multi-Outlet Drippers
Each dripper has 2 – 12 outlets onto which small diameter
micro-tubes are connected. The drippers are used mostly in
landscaping and for irrigation of potted plants.
Fig. 3.18. Six outlets
3.6.10. Ultra Low-Flow Drippers dripper
The exceptionally low water
emission rates of 0.1 – 0.3 l/h per
dripper alters the water
distribution pattern in the soil and
other growing media. The water-
to-air ratio in the wetted bed
volume is altered in favor of the
air. Water horizontal movement is
more pronounced than with
drippers of conventional flow rate.
In this technology, water can be
applied to shallow rooted plants
with minimized drainage beneath Fig. 3.19. Ultra low flow micro-drippers
the root-zone. Adapted from "Plastro" brochure

Due to the narrow water


passageways and low flow velocity, these tiny drippers are prone to clogging.

13
The minute flow rate is achieved in two techniques:
a. A conventional button dripper releases water into a secondary micro-tube with 10
– 30 molded or inserted micro-drippers.
b. Water is applied in pulses through conventional drip laterals. The pulses are
created by the irrigation controller or by dedicated pulsators. To correspond with the
short pulses and long time intervals, drippers should be of the non-leakage type.
3.7. Integral Filtration in Drippers
Modern high quality drippers are fitted with built-in integral filters. The filtering area
increased significantly in the new models to ensure long-term high performance with
reduced clogging.

Other anti-clogging means are:


a. Dual water inlets and outlets per dripper.
b. The barbs of on-line drippers protrude deep into the lateral, keeping the water inlet
away from the dirt that accumulates on the lateral's walls.
Anti-siphon devices such as the abovementioned flaps also decrease clogging
occurrence.
3.8. Auto Flushing Mechanisms
Certain compensating drippers are fitted with unique flexible diaphragms for
releasing the debris that clog the dripper. When a solid particle blocks the water path,
the diaphragm arches to widen the passageway and the clogging object is released.

Static state Pressure compensation Flushing


Fig. 3.21. Auto flushing, pressure compensating dripper Courtesy "Netafim"

14
4. MICRO-JETS AND MICRO-SPRINKLERS
4.1. Introduction
Micro emitters that disperse water through the air are used extensively in orchard
irrigation. Unlike sprinkler irrigation used in field crops and vegetables where water is
distributed evenly over the entire irrigated area, in orchard irrigation, full soil surface
coverage and even distribution of water is unattainable and is not necessary. The
objective of orchard irrigation is to deliver equal amounts of water to each tree and to
distribute it in compliance with the root system distribution pattern in the soil.
Under-canopy irrigation is common in orchard
irrigation. It can be carried out by low-volume, low-
angle mini sprinklers as well as by micro-sprinklers,
micro-jets, sprayers, drippers and bubblers.
Recently, the use of micro-sprinklers had been
extended to irrigation of vegetables and field crops.
Micro-emitters built of rigid plastic materials are
much smaller and cheaper than conventional
sprinklers.
Four emitter types are available:
a. Static micro-jets
b. Micro-jets with vibrating deflector
c. Micro-sprinklers - spinners and rotators
d. Vortex Emitters Fig. 4.1 Micro-emitters

The operating pressure is 10 – 30 m., somewhat higher than in drip systems. The
water distribution range at a given pressure depends on the nozzle geometry,
emission pattern flow rate and water pressure (head).
Many types of micro-sprinklers are modular. Components are interchangeable and
facilitate low cost modification of flow rate, droplet size, distribution pattern and
range. Changing the deflector and nozzle makes the difference.

Fig. 4.2. Modular Micro-emitters Courtesy "Naan-Dan"

15
Deflectors in diverse configurations allow sectorial coverage from 450 to 3600.
4.2. Static Micro-jets
Static micro-jets have no moving components and are classified into three groups:
4.2.1. Sprayers – the water stream is fragmented into tiny droplets by means of a
static deflector. Water is distributed in a relatively short range and the tiny drops are
wind sensitive.
4.2.2. Misters and Foggers – water droplets are smaller than in sprayers. Spread
range is shorter. Wind sensitivity and evaporation losses are higher than in sprayers.
This type is mostly used to increase the humidity in greenhouses and poultry coops,
as well as for frost protection in orchards.
4.2.3. Ray-Jets (Fan-Jets) – the water stream is spitted into 4 – 20 discrete jets.
The range is extended and wind sensitivity is reduced.

Static sprayer Mister Fogger Ray-jet


Fig. 4.3. Static micro-jets
4.3. Vibrating Micro-jets
Water ejected from a circular orifice strikes a deflector and triggers it to vibrate. The
vibration of the deflector creates larger drops than in sprayers, increases the
distribution range and reduces evaporation and wind sensitivity.
4.4. Micro-sprinklers
4.4.1. Rotators are manufactured in different configurations. The central shaft with
the nozzle is static. The water jet hits a rotating deflector that distributes water in
larger area than the vibrating emitters.
4.4.2. Spinners - the nozzle rotates and further increases the jet range.
The movement of components in micro-sprinklers increases their sensitivity to the
interference of factors like weeds, precipitates and splashed soil particles. It also
accelerates wear and tear. The damage hazard from herbicide sprayer booms and
other tillage equipment is particularly increased during harvest operations.
4.5. Vortex Emitters
These emitters have no moving parts. The water revolves in a circular vortex
chamber that delivers a low flow rate through a relatively large opening that reduces

16
the clogging hazard. The area wetted by this emitter is smaller than in other emitter
types.

Vibrating sprayer Rotator Spinner Vortex sprayer


Fig. 4.4. Vibrating micro-jet, micro-sprinklers and vortex micro-jet

Micro-sprinkler components Interchangeable components


Fig. 4.5. Modular micro-sprinkler

Pressure compensating and flow regulated micro-emitters are particularly suitable for
irrigating steep sloping plots.
Micro-sprinkler systems require a higher volume of water supply compared to on-
surface or buried drip systems.
4.6. Bubblers
In Bubblers, as with drippers, the water pressure dissipates almost fully on its way to
the outlet, but the discharge is much higher: 20 – 200 l/h. The water flows from the

17
bubbler along its stake or spreads adjacent to it. The pressure is dissipated through
diaphragms and small orifices.
Bubblers may be pressure compensating.
Multiple outlets are available. In some
cases the use of bubblers requires the
excavation of small basins around the
emitter to prevent runoff.
Micro-emitters are mostly connected to
the laterals by means of a plastic micro
tube. They are mounted on a stake or a
rod to stabilize their vertical position at
10 - 25 cm above ground level.
Threaded micro-emitters are installed
on 1/2" – 3/4" rigid PVC risers. Barb
micro-emitters can be mounted directly Unilateral bridge
on the lateral. In greenhouses, micro-
emitters may be installed upside down
for overhead irrigation and misting.
Weights are hung to stabilize them
vertically.
Bridge type micro-emitters provide
improved support to the rotating spinner
or deflector, but the vertical supports of
the bridge creates dry sectors behind
them.
Micro-emitters are as prone to clogging
as drippers, but when clogging occurs it Bi-lateral bridge Bubbler
is quickly noticed and easily cleaned. Fig. 4.6. Bridge micro-sprinkler and bubbler
Some emitters are equipped with a
small integral valve to enable local water shutdown during the cleaning process.
Some types of micro-sprinklers are prone to clogging by the eggs and excretions of
spiders, ants and other insects. Insect-proof devices have been developed to prevent
these obstructions. Ant and bug caps may be added to discourage ants and other
insects from intruding into the system. Spiders are capable of tying up spinners and
halt their rotation. Micro-sprinkler operation can be disturbed by sand that is splashed
upward from the soil surface when hit by droplets from adjacent emitters.
Plugs that are not removed on time in orchards that employ one emitter per tree may
result in lower yields and reduced produce quality.
4.6. Water Distribution Patterns
The emitter’s water distribution pattern depends on its outlet (nozzle) and deflector
geometry, trajectory angle, droplets size, pressure and flow rate. The higher the
trajectory angle (up to 450) and the larger the droplet size and flow rate, the larger will
be the wetting diameter. The patterns of water distribution and wetting depth in the
wetted area vary with the emitter type. In some emitters the wetting pattern is
triangular. These emitters are suitable for overlapping and full wetting of the soil

18
surface. In some emitters the deeper wetting depth is adjacent to the emitter while in
others it is uniform in most of the wetted area.

Fig. 4.7. Water distribution by micro-sprinkler at different flow rates (example)

Fig. 4.8. Ray-jet (fan-jet) distribution patterns From "Bowsmith" Brochure


4.7. Pressure Compensation
Like drippers, micro-sprinklers and micro-jets can be pressure compensating. That
facilitates longer laterals and uniform application in harsh topographic conditions.

19
4.8. Emitter Mounting
Emitters can be mounted directly on the lateral attached by a barbed or threaded
protrusion. The preferred connection to the lateral is by means of a small diameter
micro-tube. The vertical position is secured by a stake, stabilizing rod or stabilizing
tube. The emitter is raised 10 – 25 cm above soil surface to prevent halt of rotation of
the moving parts by weed interference and splashed soil particles. The micro-tubes
are 50 – 100 cm long and 4 – 8 mm in diameter. Diameter of 6 - 8 mm is preferred for
emitter flow rates over 60 l/h and when the micro-tube length is over 60 cm, to
prevent excessive head losses.
In greenhouses, micro-sprinklers, misters and foggers are frequently used to
increase the relative humidity and lower the temperature of the ambient atmosphere.
The misters and the foggers emit tiny droplets and are operated intermittently in
pulses. These emitters are often mounted upside-down with the trajectory angle
slanted downwards, in order to avoid hitting the glass or plastic ceiling.

Sprayer on Upside-down misters Micro-sprinkler on rod Upside-down


stake with stabilizing tubes Micro-sprinkler
Fig. 4.9. Micro-emitters mounting alternatives

20
5. THE MICRO IRRIGATION SYSTEM
Water emitters are the end devices of the micro irrigation system which is composed
of a variety of interconnected components.
The constituents of the system are classified into six principal categories:
a. Water Source: river, lake, reservoir, well, or connection to a public, commercial
or cooperative water supply network. Micro irrigation is a pressurized irrigation
technology in which water is delivered from the source by increasing its internal
energy (pressure) by pumping.
b. Delivery System: Mainline, submains and manifolds (feeder pipes).
c. Emitter Laterals
d. Control Devices: Valves, flow meters, pressure and flow regulators, automation
equipment, backflow preventers, vacuum and air release valves, etc.
e. Filtration Devices
f. Chemical Injectors: for introduction of plant nutrients and water treatment
agents into the irrigation water.
5.1 The Water source
5.1.1. The Water Supply Control Head
There are two alternative sources of water supply:
a. Direct withdrawal from an on-surface source (such as a river, stream, pond or dam
reservoir) or from an underground source (such as a well).
b. Connection to a commercial, public or cooperative supply network.
If pumping is needed, the pump will be chosen according to the required flow rate
and pressure in the irrigating system.
When connected to a water supply network, the diameter of the connection, main
valve and the delivering line should correspond with the planned flow rate and
working pressure in the irrigated area.
5.2. The Delivery System
5.2.1. Mainlines for Water Delivery and Distribution: Pipes are made of PVC
or polyethylene (PE). Ordinary PVC pipes have not UV protection and should be
installed underground. Recently, unplasticized PVC (UPVC) pipes are manufactured
with reduced sensitivity to UV and better endurance than common PVC pipes. PE
(polyethylene) pipes can be installed inside or above ground, as they are
impregnated with carbon black that provides counter UV protection. The pipes’
nominal working pressure (PN) has to be higher than that of the drip laterals,
particularly if the system has to withstand pressure fluctuations with while valves are
closed. The common PN of delivery and distribution mainlines is 6 – 8 bar (60 – 80 m
dynamic head).

21
5.2.2. Submains
Submains are installed underground (PVC or PE) or above ground (PE only). In
retrievable drip systems in annual crops, above-ground pipes are made of PE,
aluminum or vinyl “lay flat” hose.
5.2.3. Manifolds
In certain circumstances, when rows are very long or in harsh topography, sub-
division of the plot by submains is insufficient. In these cases secondary partition is
carried out by manifolds. Manifolds are used also to simplify operation and to lower
accessories costs.

Fig. 5.1. Typical layout of micro irrigation system


5.3. Laterals
Laterals are made mostly of LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene). PVC laterals are
used on a limited scale. The laterals may be laid on the soil surface or underground.
Shallow burying of drip laterals, 5 – 10 cm below soil surface is suitable to vegetables
grown on hillocks or under plastic mulch.
5.4. Control and Monitoring Devices
5.4.1. Valves and Gauges
5.4.1.1. Manual or automatic valves are used for the opening and shutdown of
water and for splitting the irrigated area into sectors. Water-meters (flow meters) are
used to measure the amount of water delivered.
5.4.1.2. Pressure regulators prevent excessive pressure beyond the working
pressure of the system.
5.4.1.3. Check valves and backflow preventers are required when fertilizers or
other chemicals are injected into the irrigation system, if the irrigation system is
connected to potable water supply network.

22
5.4.1.4. Air-release/relief valves are installed in the higher points of the system to
eliminate air flow in the pipes. High air content in the pipes may interfere with water
flow, increase friction with pipe walls, distort water measurement and may cause
water hammer and pipe burst.
5.4.1.5. Vacuum breakers prevent the collapse of pipes in steep slopes and drip
laterals in Sub-surface Drip Irrigation (SDI) systems. In SDI they also eliminate the
suction of soil particles into the drippers after shutdown of the water supply.
5.4.2. Filtration
In micro emitters, the narrow water passageways are susceptible to clogging by
suspended matter and chemicals that precipitate from the irrigation water. Clogging
can be eliminated by:
a. Preliminary separation of suspended solid particles by settling ponds, settling
tanks and sand separators.
b. Complimentary chemical treatments for decomposition of suspended organic
matter; to hinder the development of slime by microorganisms; to prevent
chemical precipitates deposition and to dissolve previous deposited
precipitates.
c. Filtration of the irrigation water.
Filtration devices are usually installed at the control head. If the irrigation water is
heavily contaminated, secondary control filters are installed at the sectorial valves.
Filters should be flushed and cleaned routinely. Flushing can be done manually or
automatically. Automatic back-flushing of media filters is performed with filtered
water, hence, the filters are installed in arrays of two or more units and the filters are
flushed in sequence one after another.
5.4.3. Chemical Injectors
Three categories of chemicals are injected into irrigation systems: fertilizers,
pesticides, and anti-clogging agents.
• Fertilizers are the most commonly injected chemicals; the capacity to “spoon-
feed” the crop with nutrients, increases yields with micro irrigation.
• Systemic pesticides are injected into drip irrigation systems to control insects
and protect plants from a variety of diseases.
• Chemicals that clean drippers or prevent dripper clogging.
Chlorine is used to kill algae and different microorganisms and to decompose organic
matter, while acids are used to reduce water pH and dissolve precipitates.
The different types of injectors are described in the chapter on fertigation.

23
Fig. 5.2. Control head Courtesy " Netafim"

5.5. Sub-surface Drip Irrigation (SDI)


Since the early eighties, sub-surface drip irrigation technology has gained
momentum.
Advantages of SDI:
a. Elimination of interference with farming activities
b. Reduced soil compaction
c. Elimination the burden of laying and retrieving laterals in annual crops
d. Protection of laterals from mechanical and environmental damage
e. Water conservation, Avoidance of direct evaporation from soil surface
f. Decreased weed infestation
g. Improved nutrient application efficiency
h. suitable for utilization of reclaimed water for irrigation of edible crops
Limitations of SDI:
a. High initial cost
b. Inconvenient monitoring of water application and expensive maintenance
c. Increased emitter clogging hazard by penetrating roots and sucked soil
particles
d. Water "surfacing" – unintended soil surface wetting by capillary upward water
movement
e. High water loss by deep percolation in cracking soils
f. Germination irrigation has to be with sprinklers in some crops
g. Limits the depth of land tillage
h. difficulties with crop rotation
i. Prone to damage by rodents

24
In Sub-Surface Drip Irrigation (SDI), drip laterals are buried 10 – 50 cm below the soil
surface.
5.6. Low-cost Drip Irrigation Systems
In many developing countries, irrigation is used for growing fruit and vegetables for
own consumption in family-owned gardens, some of which on area of 20 – 500 m2.
These gardens are mostly furrow-irrigated with water drawn from shallow wells,
rivers, lakes and reservoirs; either by hand, animals or by small motor-driven pumps.
In the last decade, productivity has impressively improved by replacement of furrow
irrigation with small scale systems of drip irrigation.
Conventional drip technology is not suitable for these small gardens. It is expensive
and out of the reach of small producers. Cheap low-pressure drip systems were
developed for these small-holders by "Netafim" and "Ein Tal" of Israel, "Watermatics"
of Mr. Chapin in the USA and Africa, and "IDE International" in the USA and India.
Local simplified versions were also developed in other developing countries.
"Watermatics" supplies bucket-kits and drum-kits. The bucket kit is comprised of an
ordinary bucket, a filter, delivery tubes and two 15-m long drip laterals. The bucket is
hung at height of one meter above ground, and the two laterals deliver water by
gravity to the garden. The irrigated area is 25 – 30 m2. The bucket-kits cost six
dollars each to non-profit organizations and to individual farmers.
Super Bucket Kit provides drip irrigation for 10 rows, 10 meters long each, covering
100 m2. This area can be watered from a 250-l container filled once a day.

Fig. 5.3. Bucket kit (left) and drum kit (right) From "IDE International" Brochure
"IDE" supplies a five-dollar starter kit that irrigates 25 m2 with one lateral and with two
laterals that irrigates 50 m2. A $25 drum kit employs a 200 – 300 l' drum tank for
irrigation of 125 m2. The largest version irrigates up to 4000 m2.
Shift-capable and simplified systems reduce capital cost by using more labor. Each
lateral can be shifted up to ten rows. In the most basic systems, water is emitted from
baffled holes or curled micro-tubes, as a substitute to emitters.

25
Larger low-cost drip systems for irrigation of 1000 to 10,000 m2 of cotton and other
field crops, cost $600-$700/ha. One lateral can irrigate four rows using attached
micro-tubes.
"Netafim International" developed two gravity-pressurized Family Drip Systems (FDS)
models for irrigating 400 m2 of vegetables.
Both types include a tank, filter, valves, main line, manifold and laterals. One model
has a 50 m long mainline and fifty 7.5 m long lateral tubes suitable for greenhouse or
low-tunnel cropping. The second model has a 9 m long main pipe and nine 20 m
long lateral tubes on both sides. The tubes are heavy-duty, durable, of small-
diameter, 5–9 mm OD. The system costs $150 per 1,000 m2.
Complementary to these systems, a human-powered treadle pump priced at only $30
(compared to $300 for a diesel pump) was developed. There are two treadle pump
models: one is powered by walking on two bamboo treadles, while the other is
comprised of steel treadles connected to concrete platforms and tubes. The treadles
activate two steel pistons that can be manufactured in any local village blacksmith's
workshop.
Two attitudes prevail regarding simplified drip systems for a disadvantaged small-
holder. The first attitude looks for the cheapest equipment and compromises on
emission uniformity and durability, assuming that the individual farmer cannot afford
high quality products.
The other attitude advocates the reduction of system costs by elimination of
sophisticated components like automation, fertigation and high level filtration;
keeping durability and considerable uniformity of water distribution. The systems are
somewhat more expensive than in the first alternative but more cost effective in the
long run.

Fig. 5.4. Family Drip System (FDS) Courtesy "Netafim"

26
Fig. 5.5. Treadle pump (left – close-up, right – at work) Courtesy "Netafim"

27
6. PIPES AND ACCESSORIES
Pipes used in micro irrigation are made primarily of Polyethylene (PE) and
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC).
6.1. Polyethylene Pipes
The prevalent material, Polyethylene (PE) has four material density categories:
Type I – Low Density (LDPE), 910 – 925 g/l
Type II – Medium Density (MDPE), 920 – 940 g/l
Type III – High Density (HDPE), 941 – 959 g/l
Type IIII – High Homo-polymer, 960 g/l and above
Carbon black 2% is added to reduce the sensitivity of the pipes to ultraviolet (UV) sun
radiation.
Another classification relates to the working pressure that the pipe withstands (PN).
Common grades of PN used in irrigation are: 2.5, 4, 6, 10, 12.5 and 16 bars (atm).
Certain thin-walled laterals withstand lower PN: 0.5 – 2 bar. The pressure tolerance
depends on pipe material density and wall thickness. Tolerance data published by
the manufacturers relate to temperature of 20 C0. At higher temperatures, the
tolerance decreases significantly, hence pipes are tested at twice the designated
working pressure and have to withstand three times the working pressure.
Plastic pipes are designated according to their external diameter, in mm. In the USA
and other countries, pipe diameter is marked in imperial inch units (“). 1” = 25.4 mm.
Pipe wall thickness is designated in mm units (in the USA by mil units. Mil = 1/1000
of inch).
1 mil = 0.0254 mm.
Laterals are commonly made of LDPE. Delivering and distributing pipes with
diameters larger than 32 mm are mostly made of HDPE.
Table 6.1. PE (polyethylene) pipes for agriculture

PE type ND (Nominal Diameter) Applications PN - m


LDPE 6 mm Hydraulic command tubing 40 – 120
LDPE 4 – 10 mm Micro-emitter connection to laterals 40 – 60
LDPE 12 – 25 mm Thin-wall drip laterals 5 – 20
LDPE 12 – 25 mm Thick-wall drip laterals 25 – 40
LDPE 16 – 32 mm Micro and mini emitter laterals 40 – 60
HDPE 32 – 75 mm Sprinkler laterals 40 – 60
HDPE 40 – 140 mm Main lines and submains 40 – 100
HDPE 75 – 450 mm Water supply and delivery networks 60 - 160

28
Table 6.2. LDPE pipe internal (inner) diameter and wall thickness
PN 
25 m 40 m 60 m 80 m 100 m
OD ↓
mm ID Wall ID Wall ID Wall ID Wall ID Wall
thickness thickness thickness thickness thickness
12 9.8 1.1 9.6 1.2 9.2 1.4 8.6 1.7 8.0 2.0
16 13.2 1.4 12.8 1.6 12.4 1.8 11.6 2.2 10.6 2.7
20 17.0 1.5 16.6 1.7 15.4 2.3 14.4 2.8 13.2 3.4
25 21.8 1.6 21.2 1.9 19.4 2.8 18.0 3.5 16.6 4.2
32 28.8 1.6 27.2 2.4 24.8 3.6 23.2 4.4 21.2 5.4
40 36.2 1.9 34.0 3.0 31.0 4.5 29.0 5.5 26.6 6.7
50 45.2 2.4 42.6 3.7 38.8 5.6 36.2 6.9 33.4 8.3
Adapted form Plastro brochure
ND = Nominal Diameter
OD = External (Outer) Diameter. In plastic pipes, mostly equivalent to the ND.
ID = Internal (inner) Diameter
Table 6.3. HDPE pipe internal (inner) diameter and wall thickness
PN  25 m 40 m 60 m 80 m 100 m 160 m
OD 
mm ID Wall ID Wall ID Wall ID Wall ID Wall ID Wall
thickness thickness thickness thickness thickness thickness
12 8.6 1.7
16 12.8 1.6 11.6 2.2
20 16.8 1.6 16.2 1.9 15.4 2.8
25 21.8 1.6 21.1 1.9 20.4 2.3 18.0 3.5
32 28.8 1.6 28.2 1.9 27.2 2.4 26.2 2.9 23.2 4.4
40 36.8 1.6 35.2 2.4 34.0 3.0 32.6 3.7 29.0 5.5
50 46.8 1.6 46.0 2.0 44.0 3.0 42.6 3.7 40.8 4.6 36.2 6.9
63 59.8 1.6 58.2 2.4 55.4 3.7 53.6 4.7 51.4 5.8 45.8 8.6
75 71.2 1.9 69.2 2.9 66.0 4.7 64.0 5.5 61.4 6.8 54.4 10.3
90 85.6 2.2 83.0 3.5 79.2 5.5 76.8 6.6 73.6 8.2 65.4 12.3
110 104.6 2.7 101.6 4.2 96.8 6.6 93.8 8.1 90.0 10.0 79.8 15.1
125 118.8 3.1 115.4 4.8 110.2 8.1 106.6 9.2 102.2 11.4 90.8 17.1
140 133.0 3.5 129.2 5.4 123.4 9.2 119.4 10.3 114.6 12.7 101.6 19.2
160 152.0 4.0 147.6 6.2 141.0 10.3 136.4 11.8 130.8 14.6
180 172.2 4.4 166.2 6.9 158.6 11.8 153.4 13.3 147.2 16.4
Adapted form "Plastro" brochure

6.2. PVC Pipes


PVC (PolyVinyl Chloride) is a rigid polymer. Addition of plasticizers renders flexibility
to tubes made of soft PVC. PVC pipes are sensitive to UV sun radiation. Soft and
flexible, they are used mainly in gardening and landscape. In agriculture, rigid PVC
pipes are mainly used for water delivery and distribution. PVC pipes are installed
exclusively underground to avoid damage from UV radiation. Currently, unplasticized
PVC (UPVC) pipes are manufactured with improved UV resistance and better
tolerance to pressure fluctuations. PVC pipes appear in discrete 4 – 8 m long
segments and have to be jointed in the field. The working pressure of rigid PVC pipes
is 6 – 24 bars (60 – 240 m).

29
Table 6.4. PVC pipes for agriculture
ND Applications PN - m
PVC type
Soft PVC 6 mm Hydraulic command tubing 40 – 80
Soft PVC 6 – 10 mm Micro-emitter connection to laterals 40 – 60
Soft PVC 12 – 25 mm Tapes and thin-wall drip laterals 5 – 20
Rigid UPVC ½” – 4” Risers 40 – 100
Rigid UPVC 63 – 1000 mm Supply networks, main lines, submains 40 – 240
When PVC pipes are installed in heavy or stony soil, it is recommended to pad the
trench with sand to prevent damage to the pipe wall by swelling soil and stone
pressure.

Table 6.5. Rigid PVC pipes internal diameter and wall thickness
PN  60 m 80 m 100 m
OD – mm ID – mm Wall thickness – ID – mm Wall thickness – ID – mm Wall thickness –
mm mm mm
63 59.0 2.0 58.2 2.4 57.0 3.0
75 70.4 2.3 69.2 2.9 67.8 3.6
90 84.4 2.8 83.0 3.5 81.4 4.3
110 103.2 3.4 101.6 4.2 99.4 5.3
140 131.4 4.3 129.2 5.4 126.6 6.7
160 150.2 4.9 147.6 6.2 144.6 7.7
225 210.2 6.9 207.8 8.6 203.4 10.8
280 262.8 8.6 258.6 10.7 253.2 13.4
315 295.6 9.7 290.8 12.1 285.0 15.0
355 333.2 10.9 327.8 13.6 321.2 16.9
400 375.4 12.3 369.4 15.3 361.8 19.1
450 422.4 13.8 415.6 17.2 407.0 21.5
500 469.4 15.3 461.8 19.1 452.2 23.9

6.3. Lay-flat Hoses


Flexible PVC lay-flat hoses can be used as mainlines and submains. The hose is
impregnated with anti-UV radiation protecting agents. When water shuts-down, the
hose lies flat on the ground and can be driven over by tractors and other farm
machinery. Lay-flat hoses can be positioned on the soil surface or in a shallow
trench. These hoses are available in diameters of 75 – 200 mm.
6.4. Fiberglass Pipes
In addition to UPVC and HDPE pipes, reinforced fiberglass pipes are used as a
substitution for steel and asbestos-cement pipes to deliver water under high pressure
from the water source to the irrigated area.
GRP (Glass Reinforced Polyester) fiberglass pipes are manufactured in diameters of
300 – 3600 mm and PN grades of 40 – 250 m. They are particularly useful in delivery
of reclaimed water.

30
6.5. External and Internal Pipe Diameter
The internal diameter (ID) of a pipe can be calculated by deducting twice the wall
thickness from the external diameter (OD). In most cases, the designated nominal
pipe diameter (ND) is its external diameter. Friction head losses of water flow in the
pipe are determined by the internal diameter.
It is imperative to check whether the designated diameter is nominal (mostly external)
or internal, when using nomograms, on-line calculators and design software.
6.6. Accessories
Accessories are classified into four categories:
a. Connectors (fittings)
b. Control, monitoring and regulation devices
c. Chemical injectors and safety devices
d. Soil moisture measuring and monitoring instrumentation.
6.6.1. Connectors (Fittings)
Connectors are made of metal or plastic materials. They may be two-sided straight-
through or angular units, T or Y shaped triple outlets, four-sided crosses or multi-
outlet splitters.

Fig, 6.1. Plastic and metal connectors

31
Fig.6.2. Start connectors, plugs and lateral ends Fig. 6.3. Lock fastened connectors

Connectors to control devices are threaded


or barbed. Connectors between pipes and
laterals are mostly barbed or conic. Simple
barb connectors and sophisticated
connectors with inner barb and external
locking cap are available. HDPE pipes are
jointed with locking connectors and may be
jointed on-farm by heat fusion. If properly
performed, fusion is reliable and durable.
6.6.2. Control Devices
Valves are the basic control devices.
6.6.2.1. Gate Valves are used for on-off
tasks and are unsuitable for water gradual
opening and closing or for flow regulation.
6.6.2.2. Ball Valves are used for on-off Fig. 6.4. Connectors and splitters
tasks. They have low head losses but are
unsuitable for flow regulation.

Y valve Globe valve Ball valve Hydraulic valve Metering automatic


valve
Fig. 6.5. Valves

32
6.6.2.3. Globe Valves feature precise flow regulation but create relatively high head
losses.
6.6.2.4. Angular and Y Shaped Valves are suitable for flow regulation and have
lower head losses than globe valves.
6.6.2.5. Butterfly Valves have throttling capability and modest head losses.
6.6.2.6. Hydraulic Valves are manufactured in a variety of models and have a built-
in control chamber. Water pressure from the command line actuates a piston or
diaphragm that can regulate the flow by narrowing or widening the water
passageway of the valve.
Functionally, hydraulic valves fall into two categories: Normally Open (N.O.) and
Normally Closed (N.C.).
a. Normally Open (N.O.) valves stay open until the control chamber is filled with
water under system pressure. When the chamber is full, the valve shuts-off.
b. Normally Closed (N.C.) valves are kept closed by the water pressure in the
mainline. In case of a rupture in the command line, the closure is secured by
pressure of a spring. The valve is opened when a tiny valve at the top of the control
chamber opens, releasing water from the control chamber into the atmosphere.
The pressure exerted by water flowing on the lower face of the diaphragm reopens
the valve.
Normally Closed (NC) valves
create higher head losses,
but they are safer to use as
the valve remains closed
even if the command tube is
torn or plugged.
6.6.2.7. Flow Meters are
essential for accurate water
measurement. Routine bi-
annual check and calibration
are required. Fig 6.6. Hydraulic valve operating principle after Y. Dvir

6.6.2.8. Pressure Regulators are used to maintain a constant downstream pressure


independent of upstream pressure fluctuations, provided that the pressure in the inlet
is above the designated regulating pressure.

Inline ¾" Low flow 1½" × 2 2" × 4 2" × 6 3" × 10


Fig. 6.7. Pressure regulators Courtesy "Netafim"

33
Pressure regulation is essential in Table 6.6. Spring actuated pressure regulators
micro irrigation, particularly in drip Model Flow rate – m3/h
irrigation. Certain thin wall laterals Min. Max.
have a PN of 4 – 15 m, and burst ¾" Low flow rate 0.11 3.0
at higher pressure. When using ¾" (One spring) 0.8 5.0
non-compensating drippers,
1½" (2 Springs) 1.6 10.0
pressure regulators installed on
2"×4 (4 Springs) 3.2 20.0
the manifolds or lateral inlets can
2"×6 (6 Springs) 4.8 30.0
maintain uniform pressure under
harsh topographic conditions. 3"×10 (10 Springs) 8.0 50.0

Mechanical devices regulate the pressure against a spring while in more


sophisticated designs pressure is controlled hydraulically by a diaphragm or piston.

The metering valve is a combination of a flow meter and hydraulic valve. The
desired volume of water to be applied is preset. The valve is opened manually or by
command from controller and closes automatically when the assigned water volume
has been delivered.
Metering valves are used extensively in micro irrigation. They facilitate gradual
opening and shutdown of the water, in order to avoid the collapse of thin-walled
laterals. They are handily compatible with automation.

Horizontal metering valve Angular metering valve Electric valve


Fig. 6.8. Control valves
The actuator in the metering valve can be a diaphragm or a piston. A diaphragm is
less sensitive to dirt in the water, but prone to tearing and collapse by pressure
surges and may wear out due to chemical degradation.
6.6.2.10. Electric Valves
Electric valves are commonly used in automation. They are actuated by a solenoid
that converts electric pulses into mechanical movement. In small diameters – up to 1”
(25 mm) – the solenoid can function as a direct actuator. In greater diameters, the

34
solenoid commands hydraulic actuators. Energy sources are batteries, solar cells
and AC current, when applicable.
6.6.2.11. Pressure Relief Valves instantly release water under excess pressure to
protect the irrigation system. Two types of valves are available:
a. Mechanical valves, working against a spring.
b. Hydraulic devices that are more reliable but more expensive.
6.6.2.12. Air Relief Valves
Air relief valves and atmospheric vacuum breakers are essential components of
micro irrigation systems.
Air relief valves release air from the pipelines when they are filled with water and
introduce air into pipelines when they are drained on sloppy terrain. Plastic pipes,
that withstand pressure of 6, 10 bars and higher can by damaged badly when the
pressure falls below atmospheric pressure. “Double action" air relief valves release
air from the pipeline, even when the floating device is lifted by pressure buildup as
the pipeline is filled with water.
Three basic types of air relief valves are available:
6.6.2.12.1. Automatic Valve: releases small volume of air in ordinary operating
conditions.
6.6.2.12.2. Kinetic Valve: releases large volume of air while the system is filled with
water and allows a substantial volume of air to enter into the system at shutdown.
6.6.2.12.3. Combination Valves: Automatic and kinetic valves mounted together in
one assembly.

Automatic Kinetic Combination


Fig. 6.9. . Air Relief Valves

35
6.6.2.13. Atmospheric Vacuum
Breakers are small devices, ½” – 1” in
diameter that break the vacuum at water
shutdown and allow air to enter into the
system when water drains from the
irrigation system and the pipeline
pressure falls below atmospheric
pressure.
Certain types of air relief valves also Fig. 6.10. Atmospheric vacuum breakers
introduce air into the irrigation system
when pressure equalizes or falls below the atmospheric pressure – functioning as
vacuum breakers.
6.6.2.14. Check-Valves and Backflow Preventers
When the irrigation system is connected to a potable water supply network, check
valves and backflow preventers are used to eliminate backflow of water containing
chemicals from the irrigation system to the potable water network.
6.6.2.15. Lateral-End Flush Devices
In drip irrigation, the highest amounts of precipitates accumulate in the lateral distal
end. Automatic lateral-end flush devices release water at the start of irrigation before
the working pressure builds-up in the system. This enables automatic routine flushing
of the laterals, eliminating the need for manual flushing.

Fig. 6.11. Lateral-end flushing action Fig. 6.12. Lateral-end flusher components

36
7. WATER TREATMENT AND FILTRATION
Irrigation water quality is defined by its physical, chemical and biological
characteristics. The narrow water passageways in drippers and micro-emitters are
particularly sensitive to irrigation water quality.
7.1. Physical Quality Parameters:
7.1.1 Suspended solid mineral particles
7.1.2 Organic matter
7.1.3 Live zooplankton
7.2. Chemical Quality Parameters:
7.2.1. Nutrition elements content
7.2.2. Salt content
7.2.3. The concentration of precipitate-forming ions
7.2.4. pH level
7.3. Emitter Clogging Factors
7.3.1. Particulate matter
7.3.2. Biological living organisms and their debris
7.3.3. Chemical precipitates
7.3.4. Combinations of the above mentioned factors
Poor system design and management increase dripper clogging. Preventive water
treatments against clogging are comprised of sedimentation, filtration and
complimentary chemical treatments.
7.3.1. Particulate Matter
Micro-emitters are clogged by particles of sand, limestone and other debris too large
to pass through the narrow water passageways. Clogging may also occur when small
particles stick together to form larger aggregates. Even tiny particles such as
suspended clay, which would not cause problems as discrete particles, can initiate
clogging if they flocculate to form larger aggregates.
7.3.2. Biological Substances
Emitters are clogged by particles of organic matter that block the water
passageways. Clogging may be induced by secretions of organisms such as algae
and microscopic bacteria. Certain algae are small enough to pass through filters and
emitter passageways as discrete entities, but may flocculate in pipelines to form
aggregates large enough to clog emitters. Bacteria are small and do not cause
clogging; however, they can precipitate compounds of iron, sulfur and other chemical
elements that clog the emitters. Some bacteria secrete slime that acts as an
adhesive platform for the buildup of clay, algae and other small particles into
aggregates.
Iron and sulfur bacterial slime is a widespread problem. Iron-precipitating bacteria
grow in the dissolved ferrous iron in irrigation water. These bacteria stick to the
surface of suspended soil particles and oxidize the dissolved iron. The oxidized iron

37
precipitates as insoluble ferric iron. In this process, a slime called ochre is created,
which attaches with other substances in pipelines and clogs the emitters.
Specific bacteria that oxidize hydrogen sulfide and convert it into insoluble elemental
sulfur, create sulfur slime, a white or yellow stringy deposit formed by oxidation of
hydrogen sulfide that is present mainly in shallow wells. The slime clogs emitters
either directly, or by acting as an adhesive agent for other small particles.
7.3.3. Chemical Precipitates
Chemical clogging of emitters frequently results from precipitation of one or more of
the following ions: calcium, iron, magnesium and manganese. These materials may
precipitate from the solution and form scales that partially or fully clog emitters.
Precipitation can be triggered by changes in pH, temperature, pressure and reaction
with ions that are injected into the irrigation water by fertigation as well as by
exposure to atmospheric oxygen.
Table 7.1. Relative clogging potential of drip irrigation systems by water contaminants
Water characteristic Minor Moderate Severe
Suspended solids (ppm) <50 50 -100 >100
pH <7.0 7.0-8.0 >8.0
Total dissolved solids (ppm) <500 500-2000 >2000
Manganese (ppm) <0.1 0.1-1.5 >1.5
Iron (ppm) <0.2 0.2-1.5 >1.5
Hydrogen sulfide (ppm) <0.2 0.2-2.0 >2.0
Bacteria population (per ml) <10,000 10,000-50,000 >50,000
After Blaine Hanson. 1997

7.4. Water Hardness


Water containing substantial concentrations of Ca++, Mg++ and Fe++ is regarded as
“hard water”. Hard water is prone to the precipitation of carbonates as low-soluble
salts in the irrigation system.
Water “hardness” is expressed as a calcium carbonate concentration equivalent in
mg/l units. Hardness is calculated by measuring the content of the above mentioned
Cations, summing up their concentrations expressed in meq/l and multiplying by 50
(the equivalent weight of calcium carbonate).
The most prevalent precipitate from hard water is calcium carbonate. However when
fertigating with fertilizers that contain phosphorous and sulfur, calcium phosphate and
calcium sulfate (gypsum) may also precipitate.
Similar reactions occur with soluble magnesium bi-carbonate.
7.5. Iron and Manganese in Water
Iron is often dissolved in groundwater as ferrous bi-carbonate. When exposed to air,
the iron is oxidized, precipitates and can plug the emitters.
Manganese is occasionally present in irrigation water, but at lower concentrations
and with lower activity as a clogging factor than iron.

38
7.6. Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD)
Organic matter suspended in the water is decomposed by microorganisms that
consume oxygen along the process. The quantity of oxygen consumed by these
organisms in breaking down the waste is designated as the Biochemical Oxygen
Demand or BOD. BOD is a consistent indicator for dripper clogging hazard by
suspended organic matter.
Raw sewage and low-quality reclaimed water have high levels of contamination.
Water pumped from ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, canals and dam reservoirs, also
contains a high load of impurities. Water pumped from sand aquifers contains great
amounts of suspended sand.
Sand and silt separation is often performed as a pre-treatment in settling ponds and
tanks or by vortex sand separators. For circulated water in greenhouses, slow sand
filter systems are used to eliminate water-borne pathogens.
7.7. Filtration
Due to the narrow water passageways in micro-emitters and the slow water-flow
velocity, micro irrigation systems are susceptible to clogging. As mentioned before,
Clogging prevention requires high-level filtration and complimentary chemical and
physical water treatments.
Table 7.2. Characteristics of water passages in drippers (example)
Non-compensated Flow Water passageway Compensated Flow Water passageway
drippers Rate* Length Width Depth Cross drippers rate Length Width Depth Cross
section section
l/h mm mm mm .mm2 L/h mm mm mm mm2
Inline 8.0 220 1.95 1.84 2.80 PC button 8.0 13 1.39 1.45 2.00
Button 8.0 48 1.39 1.45 2.02 ” 4.0 60 1.39 1.49 2.07
Inline 4.1 258 1.35 1.45 1.95 “ 2.0 60 1.25 1.09 1.38
Button 3.8 50 1.15 1.05 1.22 Ram PC 3.5 15 1.22 1.22 1.46
Tiran 4.0 95 1.38 1.38 1.90 “ 2.3 15 1.04 1.04 1.08
Typhoon 2.8 17 0.81 0.81 0.65 “ 1.6 19 1.00 1.00 1.00
Tiran 2.0 135 1.00 1.00 1.00 “ 1.2 19 0.91 0.91 0.83
Inline 2.0 280 1.10 1.18 1.30 Midi button PC 4.0 30 1.20 1.25 1.50
Button 2.0 53 0.90 0.80 0.72 “ 2.0 32 0.98 1.00 0.98
Typhoon 1.75 20 0.71 0.71 0.5

*In non-compensated drippers – nominal flow rate at 1 bar (10 m) pressure head. Courtesy "Netafim"
7.7.1 Screen (Strainer) Filters
Screen filters are designated by filtration degree, filtration surface area and filtration
ratio.
Filtration degree is designated in microns or mesh number. The filtration degree in
microns indicates the diameter of the biggest ball-shaped particle that can pass
between the screen wires.
The mesh number counts the number of wires along a 1" length of the screen The
two concepts are not fully inter-convertible.

39
Perforation width may differ in two screens with the
same mesh number due to different wire thickness.
Conversion from one system to another is done by rule
of thumb: mesh number x microns ≈ 15,000.
When selecting the filtration degree, the dimensions of
the water passageways in the dripper and the
character of water impurities should be considered.
When the impurities are suspended inorganic solids
(sand, silt, chemical precipitates), the maximum
perforation diameter should be 25%-30% of the
narrowest dimension (width or depth) in the emitter's
water passageway. When the impurities are organic
and biological materials, the maximum perforation
diameter should not be greater than 10%-20% of the
water passageway width. Screen filters are most
suitable for water with inorganic impurities, while high
loads of organic and biological impurities may clog the
screen temporarily. Fig. 7.1 Screen filter Courtesy
"Netafim

Fig. 7.2. Head losses in clean screen filters Adapted from "Odis" brochure

One of the main disadvantages of Table 7.3. Screen Perforation Examples


screen filters is the rapid accumulation Mesh no. Hole size – microns Wire thickness -
of dirt on the screen's surface. The microns
accumulated dirt increases the head
40 420 250
losses and may trigger collapse of the
50 300 188
screen. Monitoring the pressure
80 177 119
difference between the filter inlet and
outlet is necessary to prevent 100 149 102
excessive dirt accumulation on the 120 125 86
screen. The filter has to be flushed 155 100 66
when the pressure difference between 200 74 53
inlet and outlet approaches 0.5 bar (5 m).

40
7.7.2. Disc Filters
Disc filters are suitable for filtration of water containing mixed, inorganic and organic
impurities. The casing is made of metal or plastic materials. The filtering element is
a stack of grooved rings, tightened firmly by a screw on cap or by a spring that is
compressed by a water-piston. Water is filtered as it flows from the perimeter into
the stack inner space through the grooves. The intersections of the grooves provide
in-depth filtering. Coarse particles are trapped on the external surface of the stack.
Finer particles and organic debris stick to the inner grooves. Disc filters have a
higher dirt-retention capacity than screen filters. The definition of the filtration degree
is identical to that of screen filters and can be indicated by the color of the discs.

Fig. 7.3. Disc filter

7.7.3. Media Filters

Fig. 7.4. Media filters

41
Media filters protect emitters Table 7.4. Sand particle size and mesh equivalent
when using water with a high
organic load from open water Sand No. Effective sand Mesh equivalent
bodies or reclaimed water. size – mm range
Wide-body (0.5 - 1.25 m in Crushed Silica 12 1.1. – 1.2 80 - 130
diameter) media containers are Standard Sand 0.9 – 1.0 100 - 140
made of epoxy-coated carbon 6/20
steel, stainless steel or Crushed Silica 16 0.6 – 0.7 155 - 200
fiberglass. U.S. Silica 80 0.6 – 0.7 160 - 200
Crushed Silica 20 0.28 170 - 230
The filtering media are 1.5 - 4
size mm basalt, gravel, crushed granite particles or fine silica sand. The organic
impurities adhere to the surface of the media particles. The accumulated dirt should
be back-flushed routinely in order to eliminate excessive head losses. The filtration
degree is defined equivalently to that of screen and disc filters.
7.7.4. Sand Separators
High loads of sand and
other solid particles
should be removed
before getting to the
main filtration system.
There are two methods
for sand separation.
The traditional practice is
based on sedimentation
of solid particles by
slowing-down water flow
in settling tanks or
basins. Closed tanks
conserve the water
pressure while the use of Fig. 7.5 Sand separator Working pattern
open settling basins requires re-pumping of the treated water into the irrigation
system.
Centrifugal (vortex) sand separators sediment sand and other suspended particles
heavier than water by means of the centrifugal force created by tangential flow of
water into a conical container. The sand particles thrown against the container walls
by the centrifugal force settle down and accumulate in a collecting chamber at the
bottom. The collector is washed out manually or automatically. Clean water exits
through an outlet at the top of the separator. Each separator has an optimal flow rate
range in which the most of the suspended particles are removed without excessive
head-losses. At lower flow rates, more sand remains suspended in the water.

42
Fig. 7.6. Hydro-cyclone sand separator – head losses and optimal flow rates From "Odis" brochure

7.7.5. Filter Characteristics


7.7.5.1. Reliability
Disc filters are highly reliable. Collapse of the filtration element is uncommon
compared to screen filters. In screen filters, the screens are prone to be ripped due
to corrosion and to collapse because of pressure fluctuations. The screen-supporting
frame must withstand pressure surges.
7.7.5.2. Capacity and Head Losses
Water loses pressure as it flows through a filter. The extent of head losses depends
on the filter design, filtering degree, flow rate and the degree of dirt accumulation.
Normally, for a specific filter type and size, the finer the filtration degree, the lower the
nominal discharge. This is due to higher head losses and faster dirt accumulation.
7.7.5.3. Key Screen Filter's Properties:
7.7.5.3.1. Diameter: Designates the water inlet and outlet diameter.
7.7.5.3.2. Filtration Area: The total surface area of the filtration element. The
required filtration area for moderately dirty water is 10 - 30 cm2 for each 1 m3/h of
flow rate for sprinkler irrigation, 25 - 60 cm2 for micro-jets and 60 - 150 cm2 for drip
irrigation.
7.7.5.3.3. Perforation Area: The total open area of perforations.
7.7.5.3.4. Effective Filtration Ratio: The ratio between the perforation area and the
filtration area.
7.7.5.3.5. Filter Ratio: The ratio between the perforation area and the inlet cross-
section area.

43
The higher the above mentioned parameters, the higher the filter capacity. The
nominal capacity of other types of filters is defined according to the permissible head
losses.
Table 7.5. Nominal filter capacity – examples

Make Filter type & diameter Filtration grade- Capacity m3/h


microns
Odis 2” screen 60-400 15-25
Arkal 2” disc 100-400 25
Arkal 2” disc 75 16
Arkal 2” disc 25 8
Amiad 3” screen 80-300 50
Amiad 3” disc 100-250 50
Odis 4” screen 60-400 80
Netafim 4” gravel 60-200 60-120
Netafim 6” sand separator 140-230
Nominal filter capacity designates the flow rate at a head loss of 2 m (0.2 bars) in a
clean filter. As dirt accumulates, the head loss increases. Filter cleaning is required
when head loss amounts to 5 m (0.5 bars). A minimal head loss of 1.5 m (0.15 bar) is
required for acceptable sand separation by hydro-cyclone sand separators but the
recommended head loss range in these separators is 2.5 - 5 m (0.25 - 0.5 bar). Dirt
accumulation capacity is the lowest in screen filters, higher in disc filters and the
highest in media (sand and gravel) filters.
7.7.6. Flow Direction
The direction of the water flow through the filtration element is an important feature.
In disc filters, water flows from the perimeter inwards. This pattern exposes the
greater external surface area of the disc stack that is able to retain a much greater
quantity of coarse particles than the smaller inner surface area. However, in screen
filters, flow from the inside out is more suitable for self-cleaning mechanisms and is
less vulnerable to screen collapse by pressure surges. Some models of screen
filters have two filtering elements: a preliminary coarse strainer that traps the coarse
particles, and a second finer screen for final filtration. Some filter designs include
nozzles in the inlet to induce tangential flow of water that drives the dirt to the distal
end of the filter where it is flushed-out intermittently or trickles out continuously.
In media filters, water enters from the top and exits from the bottom after crossing the
filtering media that lies on a perforated plate. Back-flushing is accomplished in the
opposite direction – from the bottom upwards. To facilitate proper back-flushing, the
media fills no more than 2/3 of the tank volume, so that it can be lifted and agitated
during the back-flushing process.
7.7.7. Automatic Flushing and Cleaning
Diverse automatic cleaning mechanisms have been developed. Most of them
measure the pressure differential and activate the self-cleaning procedure when a
preset head differential had built-up. The intervals between flushing events may be
controlled by a timer.

44
Continuously self-flushing screen filters maintain a flow of filtered water without the
build-up of head losses. The dirt is continuously removed from the screen by a
tangential, spiraling downward water flow, which flushes the debris into a collecting
chamber at the bottom of the casing. The accumulated dirt is drained manually or
constantly by a bleeder, or is automatically released when the preset water difference
between the water inlet and outlet had been built. The cleaning process is carried on
for a preset time length. The cleaning and flushing mechanism is powered by the
inherent pressure of the system or by an electric motor. Rotating brushes or sucking
nipples clean the screen. For coarse screens, over 200-micron, brushes are
sufficiently efficient while for finer screens under 200 microns, cleaning by rotating
suckers is more effective.
Automatic flushing of disc filters requires release of the discs in the stack. The Spin-
Kleen mechanism combines release of the stack tightening screw, back-flushing by
water counter-flow, and spinning of the separated discs by the water stream that
flushes the dirt from the grooves through a draining valve that opens automatically.

Fig. 7.7. Automatic flushing of disk filter Adapted from "Arkal" brochure
Media filters are flushed automatically by backflow from the bottom that floats the
accumulated dirt out through the drain valve on top. The reverse flow automatically
begins when the preset pressure differential has been reached.
Automatic flushing of media and disc filters requires counter-flow of filtered water. To
meet this requirement, filters operate in arrays while the flushing of filters is
sequential, one after another.

45
Fig. 7.8. High capacity media filter array Fig. 7.9. Back-flushing of media filters

Fig. 7.10. High capcity automatic filter Fig. 7.11. Compact automatic filter
Fron "Amiad" Brochure

7.7.8. Filter Location


Sand settling tanks are installed ahead of the pump while sand separators are
installed just downstream of the pump.
In highly contaminated water, multi-stage filtration is required. An automatic screen,
disc, media filter or a filtration array of several filters should be installed at the
pumping site. A backup control screen or disc filters should be installed at the head
of each irrigating sector.
With moderately contaminated well water, one filtration stage at each sectorial valve
may be sufficient.

46
7.7.9 Filters for SDI
Dedicated disc filters
have been developed in
which the discs are
impregnated with the
herbicide Trifluraline.
The herbicide is
released slowly in low
concentration into the
irrigation water,
preventing root intrusion
into the drippers.
Effective release lasts
for 2-3 years, after
which the discs stack
should be replaced.
Fig. 7.12. Treflan impregnated disc The discs stack Courtesy Netafim
Replacement discs are filter
packed in opaque bags,
as Treflan (Trifluraline) decomposes quickly when exposed to light.

7.8. Supplementary Water Treatments


In addition to filtration, complementary chemical treatments should be performed on
the irrigation water to prevent clogging of micro irrigation systems.
Oxidation and acidification are the prevalent complementary treatments. Oxidation
decomposes organic matter, prevents formation of slime by sulfur and iron bacteria,
blocks development of algae and eliminates infestation by pathogens. Acidification
eliminates chemical precipitation and dissolves inherent precipitates in the irrigation
system.

7.8.1. Chlorination
Chlorine, the common oxidizing agent appears in three forms:
a. Solid tablets containing 90% chlorine.
b. Liquid sodium hypochlorite (NaOCI) containing 10% chlorine.
c. Gaseous chlorine. This form is cheap and efficient but is unsafe in use and
commits caution in application.
When ferrous iron is present in the water, one ppm (part per million) of chlorine per
each ppm of iron is required to kill iron bacteria and precipitate the iron from the
water. When hydrogen sulfide is present, 9 ppm of chlorine are needed per each
ppm of sulfur to kill the sulfur bacteria, prevent slime growth and precipitate the sulfur
from the water. The precipitates formed must be retained by the control filters at the
sectorial irrigation control heads to prevent clogging of the emitters.
Effective chlorinating decomposes organic materials and blocks the development of
algae and plankton present in the laterals and the emitters. 1 - 2 ppm of residual
chlorine detected at the distal ends of the laterals indicates adequate chlorination. To
maintain these residual levels, chlorine concentrations in the water at the injection

47
point should range between 3 – 15 ppm, depending on the impurity load and duration
of injection. Levels higher than 15 ppm can harm the diaphragms in certain pressure-
compensated emitters and hydraulic valves.

7.8.2. Acidification
Acidification of water is required when "hard" water containing a high concentration of
bi-carbonates is used for irrigation. The acid injected neutralizes the transient
hardness and immerse calcium carbonate precipitates. Acid can be applied with
ordinary fertigation equipment or by a dedicated metering pump. The common
acidifying agents are sulfuric, nitric, hydrocloric and phosphoric acids.
Chlorination of acidified water is more effective than chlorination of alkaline water,
reducing the chlorine requirement. Hence if both chlorination and acidification occur
simultaneously, acidification will be applied first, followed by chlorination. Mixing acid
with chlorinating agents is forbidden since it can induce a toxic chemical reaction.
Chemical treatments are implemented upstream from the filtration system. The
impurity load is reduced and decomposed material trapped in the filters. The
narrower the water passages in the emitters, the greater the need for chemical
treatments.

48
8. FERTIGATION
The combined application of water and fertilizers through the irrigation system
increases yields and minimizes environmental pollution caused by excess
fertilization.
A variety of technologies have been developed for injecting fertilizers into the
irrigation system.
8.1. Fertilizer Tank
A pressure differential is created by throttling the water
flow in the control head and diverting a fraction of the
water through a tank containing the fertilizer solution. A
gradient of 0.1 – 0.2 bars (1 – 2 m) is required to
redirect an adequate stream of water through a
connecting tube of 9 – 12 mm diameter. The tank, made
of corrosion resistant enamel-coated or galvanized cast
iron, stainless steel or fiberglass, has to withstand the
network working pressure. The diverted water is mixed
with solid soluble or liquid fertilizers. When solid
fertilizers are used, the nutrient concentration remains
more or less constant, as long as a portion of the solid
fertilizer remains in the tank. Once the solid fertilizer had
been fully dissolved, continuous dilution by water
gradually decreases the concentration of the injected
solution.
The device is cheap and simple. A wide dilution ratio Fig. 8.1. Fertilizer tank From
"Odis" brochure
can be attained with no need for an external source of
energy.
Drawbacks: nutrient concentration in the irrigation water cannot be precisely
regulated. Prior to each application, the tank has to be refilled with fertilizer. Valve
throttling generates pressure losses, and the system is not straightforwardly
automated.
8.2. Venturi Injector
Suction of the fertilizer solution is generated by water
flow through a constricted passageway. The high flow
velocity of water in the constriction reduces water
pressure below the atmospheric pressure so that the
fertilizer solution is sucked from an open tank into the
constriction through a small diameter tube.
Venturi devices are made of corrosion-resistant
materials such as copper, brass, plastic and stainless
steel. The injection rate depends upon the pressure
loss, which ranges from 10% to 75% of the system's
pressure and is controlled by the injector type and
operating conditions. Venturi devices require excess
pressure to allow for the necessary pressure loss. Fig. 8.2. Venturi injector Courtesy
Maintaining a constant pressure in the irrigation "Netafim"

49
system guarantees uniform long-term nutrient concentration. Common head losses
are above 33% of the inlet pressure. Double stage Venturi injectors have lower
pressure losses downward to 10%. The suction rate depends on the inlet pressure,
pressure loss and pipe diameter. It can be adjusted by valves and regulators. Suction
rates vary from 0.1 l/h to 2000 l/h. Venturi injectors are installed in-line or on a by-
pass. In greenhouses, the water flow in the bypass may be boosted by an auxiliary
pump.
Advantages: cheap open tanks may be used; a wide range of suction rates; simple
operation and low wear; easy installation and mobility; compatibility with automation;
uniform nutrient concentration; corrosion resistance.
Limitations: significant pressure losses; injection rates affected by pressure
fluctuations.
8.3. Injection Pumps

Fig. 8.3. Piston (left) and diaphragm (right) hydraulic pumps From "Amiad" Fig. 8.4. No-drain
Brochure hydraulic pump From
"Dosatron" brochure

Fertilizer pumps are driven by electricity, internal combustion engines, tractor PTO or
hydraulically by the inherent water pressure in the irrigation system.
8.3.1. Hydraulic Pumps are versatile, reliable and feature low operation and
maintenance costs. A diaphragm or piston movement injects the fertilizer solution
into the irrigation system. Water-driven diaphragm and piston pumps combine
precision, reliability and low maintenance costs.
8.3.1.1. Injection Control
Hydraulic pumps used in fertigation can be automated. A pulse transmitter is
mounted on the pump. The movement of the piston or diaphragm spoke sends
electrical signals to the controller that measures the delivered volume. Measurement
can also be performed by small fertilizer-meters installed on the injection tube. The
controller allocates fertilizer solution according to a preset program.
In glasshouses, simultaneous application of a multi-nutrient solution is routine. When
the distinct chemical compounds in the fertilizers are incompatible and cannot be
combined in a concentrated solution due to the risk of decomposition or precipitation,

50
two or three injectors are installed in-
line one after another, in the control
head. The application ratio between
the injectors is coordinated by the
irrigation controller.
In high-income crops grown in
glasshouses on detached media, the
irrigation water is mixed with fertilizers
in a mixing chamber (mixer).
8.3.2. Centrifugal Pumps are used
when high capacity is needed or the
fertilizer solution is turbid. Fig. 8.5. Mixer array From "Odis" brochure

8.3.3. Roller Pumps are used for precise injection of small amounts of a nutrient
solution. Their life span is relatively short due to corrosion by the injected chemicals.
8.3.4. Electric Pumps
Electric pumps are inexpensive and reliable. Operation
costs are low and they are readily integrated into automatic
systems. A wide selection of pumps is available, from small
low-capacity to massive high-capacity pumps. The injection
pressure is 1 - 10 bars.
Electric piston pumps are exceptionally precise and
appropriate for accurate mixing in constant proportions of Fig. 8.6. Electric pump
several stock solutions.
Variable speed motors and variable stroke length allow for a wide range of dosing
from 0.5 to 300 L/h. The working pressure is 2 - 10 bars.
8.4. Injection Site
Options:
8.4.1. Injection at the Main Control Head - the most convenient and cost-
effective alternative.
8.4.2. Injection at Submain Heads - a common practice in field crops.
8.4.3. Injection at the Control Head of Each Block – the cost is higher than in
the abovementioned alternatives.
8.5. Control and Automation
Dosing patterns:
8.5.1. Quantitative Dosing: a measured amount of fertilizer is injected into the
irrigation system during each water application. Injection may be initiated and
controlled automatically or manually.
8.5.2. Proportional Dosing: maintains a constant predetermined ratio between the
irrigation water and the fertilizer solution. Pumps inject the fertilizer solution in a
pulsating pattern. Venturi injectors apply the fertilizers continuously and in constant
concentration.

51
8.6. Avoiding Corrosion Damage
Most fertilizer solutions are corrosive. Accessories exposed to the injected solution
should be corrosion-resistant. The injection device and irrigation system must be
thoroughly flushed after fertilizer injection.
8.7. Backflow Prevention
Whenever the irrigation system is connected to a potable water supply network, strict
precautions should be taken to avoid backflow of fertilizer containing irrigation water.
8.7.1. Back-siphonage occurs when low pressure in the supply line is created by an
excessive hydraulic gradient in undersized pipes in the supply line, a break in the
supply line, pump or power failure.
8.7.2. Back-pressure occurs when the pressure in the irrigation system is higher
than in the water supply network. This happens when booster pumps are used for
irrigation or when the irrigated area is topographically higher than a local water
supply tank.
An atmospheric vacuum breaker installed beyond the last valve allows air to enter
downstream when pressure falls. A pressure vacuum breaker has an atmospheric
vent valve that is internally loaded by a spring. This valve is unsuitable for fertigation
systems operated by an external source of energy. Vacuum breakers are effective
only against back-siphonage and do not prevent back-pressure.
A double check valve
assembly has two check
valves in tandem, loaded
by a spring or weight. The
device is installed
upstream from the injection
system and is effective
Fig. 8.7. Tandem backflow preventer
against backflow caused by
both back-pressure and back-siphonage.
A reduced pressure backflow preventer consists of two internally loaded check
valves separated by a reduced pressure zone. When pressure downstream is higher
than the pressure upstream, water is released to the atmosphere and does not flow
backwards.

52
9. MONITORING AND CONTROL
Water and fertilizer can be managed at different levels of monitoring and control. At
the basic level, management is based on personal experience, guess-work and
intuition without performing actual measurements. In more advanced management
levels, soil moisture and nutrient content are monitored, and water and fertilizers are
replenished to pre-defined values.
9.1. Monitoring
9.1.1. Soil Moisture Monitoring
9.1.1.1. Tensiometers
The tensiometer is the simplest, most
widespread mean for monitoring the
performance of micro irrigation systems. In
on-surface drip irrigation, two units are
installed at each monitoring site. The
ceramic tip of one tensiometer that is
installed within the upper layer, at a depth of
15 – 30 cm in the active aerated root-zone,
is used for irrigation timing. The second Fig. 9.1 Tensiometers
tensiometer is inserted into the lower limit of
the active root zone or the desired wetting
depth. Twelve – 24 hours after water
application It indicates whether the applied
water did indeed replenished the depleted
water in the relevant soil volume.
A drawback of the tensiometer is its limited
range of tension measurement. It does not
measure beyond 80 centibars which in
certain crops is lower than the irrigation
Fig. 9.2 Watermark granular sensor
threshold. Above 80 centibars it may dry out
and require reactivation.
9.1.1.2. Granular Sensors
To overcome this discrepancy, new sensors
have been developed. Instead of a ceramic
tip that is equalized with soil water, a
granulated matrix mixed with gypsum
encased in stainless steel housing is
employed. The measured parameter is the
electrical resistance between two electrodes
inserted within the matrix. As the soil
moisture increases, the resistance
decreases. A conversion table translates
resistance readings to water potential
values. The sensor measures water tension
up to 200 centibars. Fig. 9.3 Time domain transmissometry
sensor

53
9.1.1.3. TDR and TDT Sensors
Other soil water measurement technologies are: Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR)
and Time Domain Transmissometry (TDT). Both technologies determine the
dielectric permittivity of the soil by measuring the time required for an
electromagnetic pulse to propagate along a transmission line within the soil. Since
the dielectric constant of water is much higher than that of the soil, higher moisture
will increase the permittivity and shorten the time gap between pulse emission and its
hit in the target receiver. In TDT, one mode (direction) of the pulse is measured while
in TDR the pulse is measured after its reflection to the source. The readings are
converted to a percentage of water content in the soil, according to prior calibration.
More soil moisture measurement techniques such as gypsum blocks, soil
capacitance and neutron probing are rarely used by farmers.
9.1.2. Plant Water State
Monitoring
9.1.2.1. Leaf Water Potential
Midday leaf water potential indicates
the water state of the plant.
Measurements are taken at midday.
Leaves are cut with their petioles
intact. The leaf is then inserted into a The selected leaf The cut leaf
pressure chamber (designated
pressure bomb). Pressured air is
released from a pressurized container
into the chamber. A pressure gauge
reading is taken when the first drop of
sap appears on the petiole tip. The
measured value indicates the water
potential of the plant. In cotton, midday
leaf water potential higher than 20
bars indicates water stress. This
measurement technique is suitable for
field crops and certain fruit crops Fig. 9.4. The pressure bomb
From "ICT International" brochure
9.1.2.2. Stem Water Potential
In some perennial crops the parameter of leaf midday water potential is not a
satisfactory indication. In these crops, stem midday water potential is indirectly
measured. The leaves for the test are wrapped for two hours with aluminum foil to
equalize the leaf and the stem water potentials. The leaves are cut and checked in
the abovementioned way. In almonds, stem water potential of 18 – 20 bars is allowed
towards harvest but in the stress sensitive phase of fruit set; stem water potential is
kept as low as 10 – 12 bars.
9.1.2.3. Trunk Contraction
In certain fruit crops such as avocadoes, mangoes and nectarines, daily fluctuations
of trunk diameter indicate the water potential of the tree. Measurements are
performed by means of dendrometers, using a micrometer to measure the changes
between two metallic plates fixed into the trunk on opposite sides.

54
9.1.3. Plant Organs Elongation and Expansion
In field crops, the rate of inter-node elongation measurement indicates the level of
water stress in the plant. In certain fruit crops the rate of fruit expansion is a good
indicator of the water state of the tree.
9.2. Irrigation Control
9.2.1. Manual Control
Manual opening and closing of valves is the lowest level of control and is rarely used
in modern irrigation.
9.2.2. Quantitative Automatic Water Shutdown
Valves are opened manually but shutdown is automatic after the preset water
amount has been delivered.
9.2.3. Fully Controlled Irrigation
Irrigation is regulated by local and central controllers. The controllers are preset to
open the valves in the desired time and to close the system when the preset water
amount has been delivered.
Central controllers can manipulate weather data – rainfall, temperature and
evaporation for irrigation scheduling. Weather stations directly deliver data
parameters like relative humidity, radiation and wind velocity, by line or cellular
communication or the internet, for fine-tuning of the water application.
9.2.4. Integrated Irrigation and
Fertigation Control
Integrated control of irrigation and fertilizer
application is one of the main advantages
of automated micro irrigation.
In field crops, open field vegetables, and
plantations, the controller simultaneously
activates the water valves and the fertilizer
injectors.
In greenhouses, particularly when using
detached beds, higher precision is required
in synchronizing water and nutrient supply. Fig. 9.5. Fertilizer and water controller
For this, dedicated controllers have been from "Gavish" brochure
developed to control multi-nutrient supply relying on chemical monitoring of the
nutrient solution and drainage.

55
9.2.5. Integrated Monitoring
and Control
The highest level of control
integrates monitoring of soil
moisture, salinity and pH levels
by sensors. All soil moisture
sensors described above can
be integrated with local or
central controllers
The central controller receives
weather data from weather
stations and the Internet.
All the data are processed and
used to adjust the preset
irrigation program. Remote
plots can be connected to the
central computer by telephone,
wireless radio transmitter or
Internet.
Fig. 9.6. Integrated monitoring and control Coertesy "Netafim"

56
10. FLOW RATE - PRESSURE RELATIONSHIP
10.1. Water Pressure
Water pressure is a key factor in pressurized irrigation systems performance.
Pressure can be expressed in different unit systems.
Table 10.1. Pressure and water potential units
Definition Unit Sub units Conversion
Pressure/water potential Bar =100 Centibars 0.99 Atm.
Pressure/water potential Atmosphere (Atm) ≈100 Centibars 1.01 Bar
Pressure/water potential Kilopascal (kPa) = 1000 Pascal 0.01 Bar=1 Centibar
Pressure/water potential PSI ≈0.068 Atm. ≈0.68 m
Dynamic Head Meter =100 cm 0.1 Atm. ~ 0.1 Bar
For simplicity and convenience in irrigation system design, the preferred unit system
is the dynamic head, expressed in meters (m) height of water column.
This unit system incorporates the effects of topography and friction losses in pipes on
the dynamic head, at each point of the irrigation system. Water dynamic head can be
referred to as the hydraulic potential energy of the water.
The total water head, measured at a specific point of the irrigation system, has three
components:
10.1.1. Elevation Head (z)
Elevation head is derived from the topographical position, the relative height of a
given point above or below a point of reference. For example, if the main valve in the
plot is positioned 5 m above the distal end of the plot, the measured static (elevation)
head at the distal end will be 5 m higher than the measured static head at the valve.
Static head is the pressure measured at a point in the water system when no water
flow is taking place.
10.1.2. Total Dynamic Head
The total dynamic head is the sum of the operating pressure, the friction head losses
within the irrigation system and the pumping lift, if applicable. The total dynamic head
is a feature of water in flow. In a well-designed irrigation system, the total dynamic
head should be the same for each subunit to ensure uniform water distribution in the
concurrently irrigated sub-plots.
10.1.3. Velocity Head
Flowing water has kinetic energy (velocity head) represented by V2/2g where V is the
velocity expressed in m/sec and g is the gravitational constant 9.81 m/sec2.
The velocity head can be expressed in m units. Squaring V by itself (V x V = V2)
results in units of m2/sec2 which divided by g in m /sec2 units, expresses velocity
head in the same units as dynamic head, namely the height of water column in m
units.

57
10.2. Head Losses
Head losses result from friction between the pipe walls and water as it flows through
the system. Obstacles - turns, bends, expansions and contractions, etc., along the
way, increase head losses.
The degree of head losses is a function of the following variables:
a. Pipe length
b. Pipe diameter
c. Pipe wall smoothness
d. Water flow rate (discharge)
e. Water viscosity
10.2.1 Friction Losses
There are two types of friction losses:
Major losses: losses in water flow along straight pipes.
Minor (local) losses: created by the flow at bends and transitions. If the flow
velocities are high through many bends and transitions in the system, minor losses
can build up and become substantial losses.
The universal equation used to calculate friction losses of water flow along a pipe is
known as the Hazen-Williams equation.
Q (Eq. 10.1)
J( ‰) = 1.131 × 10 12 × ( )1.852 × D −4.87
C
Where:
J (‰) = head loss (m per 1000 m length)
D = inner pipe diameter (mm)
C = friction coefficient (indicates inner pipe wall smoothness, the higher the C
coefficient, the lower the head loss).
Q = flow rate (m3/h).
The Hazen-Williams equation is valid in a limited range of temperature and flow
patterns.
In small diameter laterals, the Darcy-Weisbach equation gives better results in
calculating head losses. Most commonly it takes the following form:
 LV 2  (Eq.10.2)
Hf = f  
 D2g 
Where:
Hf = Headloss – m.
f = Darcy-Weisbach friction factor
D = Inner pipe diameter – m.
L = Pipe length – m.
V = Flow velocity – m/sec
g = gravitational acceleration (9.81 m/sec2)

58
In drip laterals having smooth inner wall surface, the friction factor and the
gravitational acceleration can be incorporated in one coefficient and the equation is
simplified, correlated with the flow rate and the inner diameter only (Diskin equation).
( 00) = 8.31× 10
J0 7
× Q1.76 × D −4.76 (Eq. 10.3)

Where:
J = the friction loss, m per 1000 m of pipe length
Q = the flow rate in the pipe, m3/hour
D = the inner diameter of the pipe in mm
Both the Hazen-Williams and Darcy-Weisbach equations include a parameter for the
smoothness of the internal surface of the pipe wall. In Hazen-Williams, it is the
dimension-less C coefficient and with Darcy-Weisbach the roughness factor f,
expressed in mm. As the C coefficient is higher, head loss will be lower. On the
opposite, in the Darcy-Weisbach equation, higher values of f indicate higher head-
losses.
Table 10.2. Friction Coefficients
Pipe material f - mm (Darcy-Weisbach) C (Hazen-Williams)
PVC and PE 0.0015 - 0.007 140-150
Asbestos-cement 0.3 130-140
New steel 0.045 – 0.09 110-120
5 year old steel 0.15 – 4.0 80-90
Steel with internal concrete coating 0.3 – 1.0 110-120
Concrete 0.3 – 5.0 90-100

10.2.1.1. Minor (local) Head Losses


Minor head losses are expressed as an equivalent length factor that adds a virtual
length of straight pipe of the accessory diameter to the length of the pipe under
calculation.
Particular cases of local pressure losses exist:
10.2.1.1.1. Emitter Disturbance to Water Flow in Lateral
On-line drippers are connected to laterals by a barbed or screwed protrusion.
These protrusions disturb water flow in
the laterals and induce increased head
losses. In-line drippers, discrete and
integral can also upset the water flow
regime in the lateral, generating head
losses. The rate of disturb to the flow is
designated by the coefficient Kd. The Fig. 10.1. On-line Dripper Connection
range of Kd is 0 – 2.00 (and sometimes
higher). As this value is higher, head losses increase. The value of Kd depends on
the size and nature of the protrusion and the inner cross section of the lateral. The Kd

59
of the same dripper will be higher when the internal cross section is smaller. Drip
system manufacturers take the Kd into account in calculating the allowed length of
laterals.
10.2.1.1.2. Head Losses in Connecting Tubes
Microsprinklers, microjets, and multiple outlet drippers utilize small diameter micro
tubes of 4 – 8 mm inner diameter for connection between dripper and application
point in drippers, and between the lateral and the emitter in micro sprinklers and
micro jets. The small cross-section may generate considerable head losses in
relatively short tubes of 50 – 100 cm. Drippers have no head loss problem, but in
area wetting emitters, a decrease of pressure below the operation pressure may
disturb the optimal distribution pattern. To prevent excessive head losses, emitters
with a flow rate higher than 30 l/hour will be connected to a lateral with tubes having
a minimum inner diameter of 6 mm.
10.2.1.1.3. Head Losses in Valves and Accessories
Head losses in accessories are often designated as the losses of equivalent length of
a virtual pipe having the same diameter as the accessory. Nomograms of head
losses as a function of flow rate appear in commercial brochures and manuals.
Certain producers designate a flow
factor to valves and similar
accessories. This value indicates the
flow rate that creates head losses of 1
bar (10 m) while flowing through the
accessory.
Q
Kv = (Eq. 10.4)
(∆p )0.5
Where:
Kv – flow factor, m3/hour flow rate with
head loss of 1 bar
Q – flow rate, m3/hour Fig. 10.2. Head losses in hydraulic valves
∆p – pressure drop, bars (example)

Example:
Kv = 50; What is the head loss when Q = 30
Manipulation of Eq. 10.04: ∆dp = (Q/Kv)2
∆dp = (30/50)2 = (0.6)2 = 0.36 bar = 3.6 m.
10.2.1.2. Total Dynamic Head
The total dynamic head that has to be created by the pump is the sum of the
pumping suction lift (the difference between water surface height at the source, and
pump height), the requested working pressure in the emitters, and friction losses
within the irrigation system.

60
The energy consumed per pumped unit of irrigation water depends on the total
dynamic head output of the pump and its pumping efficiency. The total dynamic head
depends on:
a. The vertical distance that the water is lifted
b. The pressure required in the emitters inlets
c. The friction losses that are created by the water flow from the water source
through the pipelines and accessories such as valves and filters.
Pumping system efficiency depends upon the pump maintenance level, its power unit
effectiveness, and the efficiency of power transmission between them.
The power input required by the pump is calculated with the formula below:
Q ×H
N= Eq. 10.5
270 × η
Where:
N = required input - HP
Q = pump discharge – m3/h
H = total dynamic head – m
η = pump efficiency – expressed as a decimal fraction
Example:
Q = 200m3; H = 150 m; η = 0.75.
N = 200 X 150/(270 X 0.75) = 148 HP
When measuring pressure, it should be remembered that the pressure gauges
are calibrated to read 0 (zero) at atmospheric pressure (about 1 bar). This is
important in the operation of devices such as Venturi suction injectors.
10.3. Operating Pressure
The operating pressure is the pressure required at the emitters to guarantee effective
performance and uniform water distribution. The range of the appropriate operating
pressure of the emitter is defined and published by the manufacturer in the operating
manual. The type of emitter and its operating pressure have to be taken into account
in irrigation system design and irrigation scheduling. The design of the distributing
pipelines has to ensure the appropriate operating pressure in the emitters.
The term ‘working pressure’ (PN) refers to the maximal allowed pressure in a
component of the irrigation system (pipe, filter, etc.) that will not result in damage to
the component by excessive pressure.
There are different procedures for calculation of head losses. In the past, slide rulers
and nomograms were routinely used. Nowadays, most system designers use
dedicated software and on-line calculators.
Head losses in non-distributing pipes differ from head losses in distributing pipes with
multiple outlets. When using m (meters) as head units, head loss values are
expressed in % or ‰ of length. The actual head losses are obtained by multiplying
the percentage/ per-mil value by the pipe length.

61
Christiansen friction factor (F) is used to calculate the head losses in pipes with
multiple outlets such as distributing mains and submains, manifolds and drip laterals.
This factor accounts for the decrease in flow along the lateral and depends upon the
number of outlets (N) and the exponent (m = 1.76) of the flow rate (Q) in Hazen-
Williams equation. The formula to calculate this factor is as follows:
F = 1/(m+1) + 1/(2N) +((m-1)0.5/(6N)2) (Eq. 10.6)
For a lateral with more than 10 emitters, F ≈ 0.40 can be used Table 10.3. Multiple
regardless of the friction loss formula utilized. The head loss outlets factor F
due to friction in drip laterals is then determined by:
Number. F
×Hp
Hf = F× (Eq. 10.7) of outlets
Where: 1 1.00
Hf is the head loss due to friction in the drip lateral. 5 0.410
Hp is the head loss due to friction of the same flow rate in a 10 0.384
non-distributing pipe of the same diameter and length.
20 0.373
In dripper laterals where drippers are inserted, molded inside
or nailed with the stem protruding into the inner cavity of the 40 0.368
lateral, the drippers disturb the water flow and increase the 100 0.366
head losses. These additional head losses are designated by
Kd – the disturbance coefficient. The values range from zero to 2.0 and higher.
When the value is higher, the disturbance to flow and the derived head loss is greater
and commits a shorter lateral length.
10.4. Hydraulic Characteristics of Emitters
Pressure variations have a different effect on the flow rate of various emitter types.
The impact depends on design and construction. The relationship between the
operating pressure and the flow rate of the emitter is calculated via the following
equation:
× Px
Q = k× (Eq. 10.8)
Where:
Q = emitter flow rate – l/h
k = emitter discharge coefficient – depends on the configuration of the water
path in the emitter and the units of pressure and flow rate
P = Pressure at the emitter's inlet – m.
x = emitter discharge exponent

62
The dripper exponent Table 10.4. Effect of dripper exponent on pressure – flow
indicates the relationships rate relationships
between the pressure and the
flow rate of the emitter. The Exponent 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8
range of emitter exponents is
Pressure Flow rate change - %
0 – 1. Laminar flow drippers
change - %
have high exponents, in the
range of 0.7 – 1.0. Drippers 10 3.9 4.8 5.9 6.9 7.9
with exponents in the 0.6 –
20 7.6 9.5 11.6 13.6 15.7
0.7 range, are considered
semi-turbulent. Drippers with 30 11.1 14.0 17.1 20.2 23.3
turbulent flow have exponents
40 14.4 18.3 22.3 26.6 30.9
between 0.4 and 0.6.
Compensating drippers have 50 17.6 22.5 27.5 32.8 38.3
exponents that approach zero
in the regulated pressure range.

Fig. 10. 3. Relationship between the dripper exponent and lateral length Courtesy “Netafim”
The larger the dripper exponent, the more sensitive is the flow rate to pressure
variations. A value of 1 means that for each percentage change in pressure there is
an identical percentage change in flow rate. An exponent value of 0 (zero) means
that the emitter's flow rate is not affected by pressure changes.
When laterals are laid above the soil surface, the ambient temperature affects the
dripper flow rate. As the water temperature increases, water viscosity decreases and
the flow rate of the emitter rises. Lateral heating is more pronounced at the distal
ends due to the lower flow velocity. As a result, emitters at the end of the lateral may
have a higher flow rate than emitters at the beginning of the lateral. On the opposite,
regularly, the flow rate decreases along the lateral due to friction head losses
In pressure compensating (PC) drippers, pressure fluctuations above the threshold of
the regulating pressure do not affect the flow rate. The regulating pressure is the
head range in which regulation of flow rate takes place. The graphs below show that

63
in compensating Ram PC drippers, for example, the regulating pressure threshold is
about 5 m.

Fig. 10.4. Non-pressure compensating flow- Fig. 10.5. Pressure Compensating dripper flow-
pressure relationship pressure relationship
10.5. Calculation of Head Losses
As mentioned before, slide rulers, tables, nomograms, hand-held and on-line
calculators as well as dedicated software can be used to calculate head losses.
Manufacturers publish tables and nomograms showing the head losses in their
products. Valve producers use the Kv Flow Factor that designates the discharge of
the valve in m3/h units at 10 m (1 bar) head loss.
10.6. Technical Data
Dripper manufacturers provide detailed technical data in catalogs or on-line, about
the flow rate - pressure relationships of their products. These data should be used for
determining lateral length and the pressure required at the lateral inlet. Low dripper
exponents allow higher pressure differences between drippers, keeping the
convention of flow rate difference under 10% between emitters in a simultaneously
irrigated area.

64
Table 10.5. Example of integral drip laterals technical data
EMITTER FLOW DIAMETER - DRIPPER DH=7.5% DH=10%
MODEL RATE mm CONSTANTS
l/h
NOMINAL INTERNAL COEFFICIENT EXPONENT Pmin-m Pmax- Pmin-m Pmax-
m m
12-/26/40 2.1 12 10.4 0.6442 0.506 9.25 10.75 9 11
16/18 1.6 16 15.2 0.5300 0.4830 9.19 10.81 8.91 11.09
2.2 16 15.2 0.7260 0.4840 9.19 10.81 8.91 11.09
3.6 16 15.2 1.1940 0.4792 9.19 10.81 8.90 11.10
16-/25/35 1.7 16 15.2 0.5212 0.5090 9.24 10.76 8.97 11.03
16-/40/45 2.3 16 15.2 0.7646 0.4704 9.17 10.83 8.88 11.12
3.6 16 15.2 1.1940 0.4792 9.19 10.81 8.90 11.10
20- 1.7 20 17.6 0.5212 0.5090 9.24 10.76 8.97 11.03
/24/36/44
2.3 20 17.6 0.7646 0.4704 9.17 10.83 8.88 11.12
3.6 20 17.6 1.1940 0.4792 9.19 10.81 8.90 11.10
25-/17/34 1.7 25 22.2 0.5212 0.5090 9.24 10.76 8.97 11.03
2.3 25 22.2 0.7646 0.4704 9.17 10.83 8.88 11.12
3.6 25 22.2 1.1940 0.4792 9.19 10.81 8.90 11.10
Adapted from "Plastro" CD-Rom

This example shows that a large difference in pressure head – up to 20% - is


tolerated in drippers with a dripper exponent of 0.5 and below.
Manufacturers provide tables indicating the acceptable lateral length in a plateau and
designated slopes for a given dripper and lateral combination that keeps the head
differences in the allowed range of ± 5% around the average flow rate.

Table 10.6. Max. Allowed lateral length for non-compensated line drippers (example)

65
Table 10.7. Allowed lateral length for pressure compensated drippers (example)

66
11. WATER DISTRIBUTION
In drip irrigation, water is applied from point or line sources. Micro-sprinklers and
micro-jets wet discrete soil volumes with or without partial overlapping. In on-surface
drip irrigation, a small pond is created beneath each emitter. The wetted soil surface
area is a small fraction of the total soil surface area in the plot. Water movement
within the soil follows a three-dimensional flow pattern, contradicting the one-
dimensional, vertical percolation pattern typical of flood and full surface coverage
sprinkler irrigation. In subsurface drip irrigation, the wetting pattern is quite different:
water moves downward, laterally and in some extent, upwards.

Fig. 11.1. Water distribution in the soil: (a) on-surface drip irrigation. (b) SDI
Two driving forces affect simultaneously the flow of water in the soil: gravity and
capillarity. Gravity drives the water downwards. Capillary forces drive the water in all
directions. The equilibrium between these two forces determines the pattern of water
distribution within the soil.
The wetting pattern affects the distribution of roots in the soil as well as the
dispersion and accumulation of dissolved nutrients and salts.
11.1. Soil Wetting Patterns
The key factors affecting the distribution pattern of water and solutes in the wetted
soil volume with micro irrigation are:
a. Soil Properties
b. Lateral Placement
c. Emitter Flow Rate
d. Emitter Spacing
e. Water Dosage
f. Chemical Composition of the Water
In fine textured soil, capillary forces are more pronounced than gravity; therefore the
horizontal width of the wetted soil volume is greater than its depth. The shape of the
wetted volume resembles an onion. In medium textured soils, the wetted volume is

67
pear-shaped and in coarse texture, the vertical water movement is more pronounced
than the horizontal one so that the wetting volume resembles a carrot.
Soil structure also affects water distribution. Compact layers and horizontal
stratification increase the horizontal flow of water at the expense of vertical
percolation. On the other hand, vertical cracking in compacted soils amplify a
preferred downward flow of water followed by incomplete wetting of the upper soil
layers.
11.1.2. Lateral Placement
a. The maximum diameter wetted by drippers in on-surface drip laterals
is just under the soil surface is, namely at depth of 10 – 30.
b. The maximum diameter wetted by drippers in sub-surface drip laterals
is at the depth of the lateral.
In sub-surface drip Irrigation (SDI), the vertical dimension of wetted soil above the
emitter in sandy soil is about ¼ of the wetted width. In silt and clay soils this amounts
to ½ of the wetted width.
11.1.3. Emitter Flow Rate
For the same application time length and the same volume of water:
a. A lower flow rate renders a narrower and deeper wetting pattern.
b. A higher flow rate renders a wider and shallower wetting pattern.
Higher flow rates in on-surface drippers create wider on-surface ponds and a larger
horizontal wetted diameter than lower flow rates.
11.1.4. Emitter Spacing
For the same application time
length and the same volume of
water:
a. Narrow spacing between
drippers on the lateral, renders
a narrower and deeper wetting
pattern. The width wetted by
the drippers increases until
adjacent wetted volumes
overlap. After the occurrence
of overlapping, the majority of
the water flow is directed
downwards.
b. Wide spacing between
drippers renders a wider and
shallower wetting pattern.
11.1.5. Water Dosage Fig. 11.2. Water distribution from a single dripper in loamy
The wetted volume expands and sandy soil. 4 l/h and 16 l/h flow rates, 4, 8, 16 l dose
After Bressler 1977
and gets deeper as the
amount of applied water increases.

68
11.1.6. Chemical Composition of the Water
Dissolved chemical compounds in the water may affect the wetting pattern.
Detergents and other surfactants contained in reclaimed and storm waters reduce
water surface tension and decrease the horizontal flow. The lower surface tension
increases the effect of gravity at the expense of the capillary forces, resulting in a
narrower and deeper wetted volume.
11.2. Salt Distribution
In arid and semi-arid regions, salt accumulation may damage the soil and the crop.
Dissolved salts accumulate at the perimeter of the wetted zone, particularly at the soil
surface where the water content of the soil is relatively low. A visible saline loop
builds up on the soil surface in the margins of the wetted area, along with a shell of
salt accumulated at a depth that depends on the leaching efficiency. Appropriate drip
irrigation management fully replenishes the water removed by the crop, so that the
soil water content remains high enough to address a low concentration of soluble
salts. The nutrients applied with the irrigation water follow the same distribution
pattern.

Fig. 11.3. Salt distribution in the wetted volume Fig. 11.4. Leaching of salt into the active root-zone
by rain Adapted from Kremmer & Kenig, 1996
Salt accumulated on the soil surface and in the uppermost soil layer commits
preventive measures with the first rains after the dry season. Irrigation should be
applied as long as the rain lasts, to prevent salts leached from the soil surface to
build up in the active root-zone.
11.3. Soil Properties that Affect Water Distribution Patterns
Soil characteristics affect the flow of water in the soil and the derived pattern of the
wetted zone.

69
The equilibrium between the vertical and the horizontal movement in the soil is
determined by infiltration and percolation rates that are derived from the soil’s
hydraulic conductivity. Hydraulic conductivity is expressed in units of velocity
(length/time) m/sec per unit cross section. A given soil type does not have a constant
value of hydraulic conductivity. In a specific soil the hydraulic conductivity is greater
when the soil is saturated than in an unsaturated state. It also depends on the degree
of stratification, the presence of compact soil layers and the moisture content of the
soil prior to irrigation. Though different mathematical models have been developed to
predict soil water distribution patterns, the use of empirical field techniques to assess
the size and volume of the wetted soil is imperative.
When plants are irrigated at night when water consumption of the plant is negligible,
the volume of the wetted soil depends on the amount of water applied by the dripper
and the change in water content of the wetted volume.
V = L × [100/(Mf-Mi)] (Eq. 11.1)
Where:
V = Soil wetted volume, l.
L = Amount of the applied water, l
Mf = the average percentage of water content per unit volume in the wetted zone
after irrigation.
Mi = the average percentage of soil water content per unit volume of soil prior to the
irrigation.
Example
100 l of water were applied at night and the soil water content in the wetted
volume increased by 10% per volume.
Mf – Mi = 10%
V = 100l × (100/10) = 1000l. The wetted volume would be 1000 l (1 m3) of soil.
11.4. Wetting Width and Depth
In order to select the optimal dripper and to determine the spacing between laterals
and between drippers on the lateral, a thorough assessment of the soil wetting
pattern by drippers is highly recommended.
A simplified assessment claims that capillary forces drive the flow of water in the soil
at the same rate in all directions and gravity pushes the water downward only. The
balance between these two forces determines the dimensions of the soil wetted
volume and the ratio between the vertical and horizontal axis. During wetting of dry
soil, gravity initially drives the water downwards through the empty, non-capillary
voids much faster than the lateral capillary movement. As the capillary voids are filled
with water, the horizontal flow becomes more pronounced. This happens faster at
higher flow rates, therefore the horizontal diameter of the volume wetted by drippers
with higher flow rate is larger. In fine textured soil, vertical gravity-driven percolation
is relatively slow, faster filling the capillary voids with water.

70
11.5. Nutrient Distribution
Distribution of nutrients applied by fertigation in the soil depends on the interaction
between the nutrition elements and the soil.
Potassium ions are absorbed on the surface area of clay minerals and their transport
with irrigation water in fine and medium textured soils is limited. The majority of the
applied potassium remains in the upper soil layer.
In alkaline and neutral soils, phosphorous precipitates from the soil solution with
calcium and magnesium as sparsely soluble salts. In acid soils, it precipitates with
iron and aluminum and remains in the upper soil layer. Therefore application of
phosphorous in deeper soil layers by subsurface drip irrigation (SDI), increases its
availability to the root system.
11.6. Root System Development under Drip Irrigation
Water application regime and water distribution pattern in the soil affect the root
system development and distribution.
Each plant family has a typical root dispersal pattern deriving from the growing
conditions in the plant’s site of origin and the adaptation of the plant to the local
growing environment.

Fig. 11.5. Diverse root systems


As depicted in the illustration above,
root systems can be shallow or deep,
dense, branched or sparse, unrelated
to the shape of the plant's canopy.
The root system distribution pattern,
along with soil properties are key
factors in determining dripper spacing
and the scheduling of the irrigation
regime. Shallow and sparse root
systems require dense dripper spacing
and frequent water applications. Deep
and branched root systems allow wider
spacing between emitters and longer
Fig. 11.6 Typical root systems of field crops
time intervals between irrigations.

71
Frequent and small water applications with drip irrigation lead to the development of
shallow and compact root systems. This increases crop sensitivity to heat spells and
water stress. Large plants with shallow root systems are prone to uprooting by strong
winds.
On the other hand, due to improved aeration and nutrition in the drip irrigated soil
volume, the density of the active fine roots is significantly higher than the density of
root systems growing under sprinkler irrigation.

Fig. 11.7. Root system in sprinkler irrigation (left) vs. root system in drip irrigation (right)
Courtesy "Netafim"

The active root system and the majority of the root-hairs in drip-irrigated orchard
trees, converge in the wetted volume. The highest density of the active roots is in the
aerated upper layers, provided there is no accumulation of salts there. At the margins
of the wetted volume, where salt accumulates, active roots are sparse.
Evergreen fruit trees such as avocadoes and citrus develop shallower root systems
under drip irrigation than deciduous orchards and vineyards. This determines the
irrigation regime and necessitates the addition of a second drip lateral per row on
coarse textured soils.
With SDI, the root distribution pattern differs. Roots are mainly concentrated under
and beside the laterals. Very few roots develop above the laterals due to the higher
salinity in the upper soil layers.

72
12. PLANNING OF MICROIRRIGATION SYSTEMS
12.1. Introduction
Setting up a new irrigation system has two phases:
a. Planning
b. Design
Planning is the preliminary stage and consists of collecting data, taking decisions
about the irrigation regime, choosing the layout and the components of the system,
especially the emitter type and flow rate.
The hydraulic design is the next stage and comprises of mapping the irrigation
system layout, locating control units, mains and laterals, calculating and determining
the pressure-flow regime and programming the operative timetable. This phase can
be supported by dedicated computer software provided the programmers have a
sound understanding of the fundamentals of hydraulic design.
12.2. Planning
Basic pre-design data to be collected: plot boundaries and topography, soil
properties, climate data, cropping technology, water-supply capacity and quality,
existing equipment.
The topographic map of the plot will be scaled to 1:500 (for small plots) – 1:2500 (for
large blocks). It will incorporate plot borders, crop spacing, row direction and partition
into sub-units, if applicable. Intervals between elevation contours will not exceed 1 m.
12.2.1. Soil Properties
a. Soil depth
b. Soil texture and structure
c. Bulk density
d. Saturation Percentage, Field Capacity, Wilting Point
e. Infiltration rate and hydraulic conductivity data, if available
f. Presence of stratified layers and cracks
g. Soil salinity
12.2.2. Climate Data
a. Rainfall – amount and seasonal distribution
b. Reference Evapo-transpiration (ET0) – calculated from climatic parameters
(Penman-Monteith method) or measured in Class A pan.
12.2.3. Cropping Data
a. Growth season
b. Phenological stages – dates, time-length, foliage coverage, root-zone depth,
sensitivity to water stress.
c. In-row and between row spacing.
d. Peak season Crop coefficient (kc): the ratio between ETc (crop water loss by
evapo-transpiration) and the ET0.
The crop coefficient kc has been elaborated for use in fully wetted soil surface
technologies like sprinkler irrigation. For partial soil surface wetting technologies, the
ETc may be adjusted downwards. The component of evaporation from soil surface is
significantly reduced due to the small fraction of wetted soil surface.

73
The adjustment can be made using the equation:
ETca = ETc × [0.1(GC)0.5] (Eq. 12.1)
Where:
ETca = Adjusted ETc
GC = Percentage of ground cover, The percentage of ground cover relates to the
shaded soil surface by the crop foliage at midday.
12.2.4. Water Supply Capacity
a. Water source characteristics (river, dam, pond, well, public/commercial supply).
b. Hours of supply (if by external supplier or due to restrictions on electricity supply)
c. Maximum available hourly/daily flow rate (discharge)
d. Pump pressure-discharge curve (if applicable).
e. Pressure at supply connection (if by external supplier)
f. Water quality (physical contamination, hardness, salinity)
12.3. Data Manipulation
The capacity of the irrigation system has to correspond with the most demanding
crop water requirements, namely peak water consumption by the crop taking place
when foliage coverage is maximal, and/or evaporation is in its peak and/or crop
sensitivity to water stress is the highest. In the case of annual crop rotation, data
relating to the most demanding crop will be taken into account.
The optimal irrigation regime of a given plot has to be based on the water
consumption by the crop, soil water retention and the irrigation system layout.
12.3.1. Soil Wetting Pattern
The partial soil wetting pattern by micro irrigation requires assessment of the
percentage of soil volume that is wetted.
Diverse models for estimating the
wetted volume were developed in
which the wetting pattern is
determined by:
a. Dripper flow rate
b. Infiltration rate of the soil
(expressed in mm/h)
c. Soil hydraulic conductivity
(expressed as mm/s).
The difficulty with the last two
parameters is that the first is not Fig. 12.1.. Wetting patterns by drippers in different
constant and decreases in irrigated soil types
soil along time. The second
parameter is measured in the laboratory on disturbed saturated soil. Frequently, the
results of the modeling do not coincide with the actual wetting pattern in undisturbed
soil in the field.
In drip irrigation, a significant water movement occurs in unsaturated soil, where the
equilibrium between gravity and capillary hydraulic forces differs significantly from the
equilibrium prevailing in disturbed saturated soil in the laboratory.

74
Shani (1987), developed a model for comprehensive design of drip irrigation systems
that combines models of water and salt distribution in the soil with models of root
development and dispersal in the soil. The hydraulic parameters of the soil are
indicated by measuring the radii of the ponded area around drippers, the saturated
and residual moisture and the capacity of the capillary space.
The advantage of this model is that it enables direct measurement in undisturbed soil
- but the final results do not justify the ample work required. Water depletion from the
soil is uneven, due to variable root density, unevenness of plant size in the same
plot, and soil variability.
A customary compromise made in localized irrigation is the estimating the
percentage of wetted area. This facilitates use of methodology that had been
developed for determining the irrigation regime in full surface wetting technologies,
corrected with multiplication by the cover percentage factor.
12.3.1.1. Units of Water Consumption
Water depletion and replenishment amounts are expressed in two alternative values:
a. mm/day (mm/hour in greenhouses) – designates virtual coverage of the whole
surface area in the plot by a uniform water layer of a designated depth in mm.
b. m3/ha./day (or inch/acre/day)
Conversion formula: (mm/day) × 10 = m3/ha./day.
12.3.2. Manipulation Steps
12.3.2.1. Calculation of the permitted depletion of water from the soil:
MAD = (FC – PWP) × BD × Waf × Sd × D × Sl (Eq. 12.3)
Where:
MAD = Management Allowed Depletion - the permitted water deficit – mm = l/m2(×10
= m3/ha)
FC = Field Capacity % w/w (weight of water per weight of soil)
PWP = Welting Point % w/w
FC – WP = Available water % w/w
BD = Bulk Density g/ml
Waf = Permitted depletion fraction of the available water
Sd = Desired wetting depth
D = Maximum horizontal wetting diameter
Sl = Spacing between laterals

Example:
FC = 20% w/w
PWP = 15% w/w Available Water (AW) = 20% - 15% = 5% w/w#
BD = 1.4 Available Water = 5% × 1.4 = 7% v/v##
Waf = 0.4 Allowed deficit = 7% × 0.4 = 2.8% v/v
Sl = 1.60 m
D = 0.60 m Percentage wetted area = 0.60/1.60 = 37.5%*
Sd = 0.90 m Wetted volume per ha = 10,000 m2 × 0.90 m × 37.5% =
3375 m3

75
Allowed deficit per 3375 × 2.8% = 94.5 m3 = 94.5/10 = 9.45 mm
ha.
#
w/w = Weight of water per weight of soil
##
v/v = volume of water per volume of soil.
12.3.2.2. Assessing the Wetted Volume
Assuming full overlapping of the wetted volume by adjacent emitters and ignoring the
non-wetted volume due to its bulb shape. The wetted soil volume has no regular
geometric shape. Nevertheless, some researchers suggested relating to the wetted
volume as an ellipsoid. In that case, wetting depth and the maximum wetted radius
can be calculated with the formula:
V = 4/3π × a × b × c (Eq. 12.4)
The definition of the wetted volume by a single dripper is not a
simple assignment. It is needed for selecting the dripper type, its
flow rate and the operating pressure, spacing between laterals and
between drippers, as well as for determining water dosage in
irrigation.
Due to the difficulties in precise calculation of the wetted volume,
data related to wetting volume are only assessments. System
designers rely on their experience or rules of thumb regarding Fig. 12.2.Ellipsoid
wetting diameters that allow a relatively wide range of wetting
diameter for each soil class.
a. Coarse sand: 20 – 30 cm.
b. Fine sand: 30 – 60 cm.
c. Loam: 60 – 90 cm.
d. Heavy clay: 90 – 120 cm.
The diversity is attributed to variability in soil texture and structure in each class.
Great variability may be found in the same irrigating block.
The best way of estimating wetting volume is on the spot field examination of the
chosen emitter in undisturbed soil in the specific plot.
12.3.2.3. Determining the Irrigation Regime
When deciding the irrigation regime the allowed deficit should be compared to the
crop water requirement.
The first step is to calculate the gross daily water replenishment requirement relating
to the Irrigation Efficiency of the irrigation system:
ETca
W = gr (Eq. 12.5)
--------------------

IE

Where:
Wgr = Gross water requirement - mm/day
ETca = Adjusted crop water requirement – mm/day
IE = Irrigation Efficiency - %
Irrigation Efficiency is defined as:

76
IE = Water beneficially used
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- × 100 Eq. 12.6
Irrigation water applied
Irrigation Efficiency is an arbitrary average value assigned to the irrigation
technology.
The common values are:
a. Border flood irrigation: 50% - 80%
b. Furrow irrigation: 70% - 80%
c. Sprinkler irrigation: 85% - 90%
d. Microsprinklers and microjets: 80% - 90%
e. Drip irrigation: 80% - 95%

Example:
ETca = 6 mm/d
IE = 90% Wgr = 6/90% ≈ 6.7 mm/d
12.3.2.4. Intervals between Irrigations
Calculation of the time interval between applications has to relate to peak demand
and stress sensitive phenological phases. The data required for determining the
interval:
a. Soil water retention – available water.
b. Acceptable depletion fraction of available water
c. Root-system depth
d. Dimensions of the wetted volume or the percentage of wetted area out of the total
spacing area.
The intervals between applications will be determined by division of the water needed
for replenishment of the depleted water by the daily gross water requirement.
Wad
TI = (Eq. 12.7)
------------------------

Wgr
Where:
TI = Time interval between irrigations – days
Wad = The allowed water depletion – mm = l/m2(×10 = m3/ha)
Wgr = Gross water requirement - mm/day
Example:
Wad = 9.45 mm
Wgr = 6/90% ≈ 6.7 mm/d TI = 9.45/6.7=1.41 days
In this case, the interval will be the integer value and the water dose will be adjusted
respectively. In frequent greenhouse irrigation, intervals are measured in hours.
Here, the interval will be 24h ×1.4 ≈ 33 hours.
12.4. Existing Equipment
Existence of pumping equipment, delivery and distribution pipelines, accessories, etc.
that can be incorporated into the designed system.

77
12.5. Planning Crop Irrigation
12.5.1. Orchards
Orchards are irrigated by drip
irrigation or other micro
irrigation technologies.
Certain fruit crops benefit
from drip irrigation while
others are better adapted to
spray and micro-sprinkler
irrigation.
Drip irrigation is the best
choice for water saving and
salinity handling while
microjets and micro sprinklers
are favored for frost
protection and decreasing Fig. 12.3. Drip irrigation layouts in orchards
damage by heat spells, particularly in citrus and other sub-tropical crops.
12.5.1.1. Drip Irrigation
There are different types of dripper layouts for orchards. For heavy and medium
textured soils, one drip lateral along the row may be sufficient. On sandy and shallow
soils, two laterals, 20 – 60 cm apart on each side of the row, perform better.
Additional layouts are loops and half circles around the trunk, star and “snake”
layouts as shown in figure 12.3.
The most explicit water saving in orchards using drip irrigation occurs during the early
years prior to fruit bearing. Some types of laterals allow gradual unplugging of the
water outlets relating to tree development. In these cases, in the first years only
emitters adjacent to the tree are unplugged.
In table and wine grapes as well as in kiwi plantations, it is common to hang the
laterals 30 cm above ground by fastening them with a clip to the lowest wire on the
trellis. Drop concentrators are mounted on the lateral to force the drops to the desired
wetting points.

Fig. 12.4. Dripper layouts in wide-spaced orchards


For widely spaced orchards such as pecans and nuts spaced 10 × 10 to 15 × 15 m,
one lateral per row is insufficient to satisfy the tree's water requirements. Two laterals
and more per row, or loops around the trunks, perform better.

78
12.5.1.1.1. Nutrition Ditches
A new technology had been developed for frequent water application and to "spoon-
feed" sensitive crops like mangoes, avocadoes and nectarines in harsh soil and
climate conditions.
One or two ditches per row, 30 – 50 cm deep and 20 cm wide, are excavated along
the tree rows. The ditches are filled with aggregates of volcanic tuff, pumice, gravel
or perlite. A drip lateral is laid over each ditch. During the irrigation season, water and
nutrients are applied in pulses, several times a day.
12.5.1.2. Micro-sprinkler and Micro-jet Irrigation in Orchards
The common layout is one lateral per row. The density of emitters on the lateral
depends on spacing between the trees. In densely planted crops, less than 3 m in
the row, one emitter between two trees is sufficient. In more spacious planting, one
emitter per tree is common. In extremely spacious planting, two emitters per tree are
frequently favored.
12.5.2. Micro irrigation in Row Crops
The preferred technology is drip irrigation. It is only recently that certain densely
grown field crops like potatoes, carrot, onions, etc, are irrigated by micro sprinklers
positioned in 6 × 6 – 10 × 10 m spacing.
In annual field crops, on-surface drip laterals are laid out at the beginning of the
irrigation season and retrieved pre-harvest to avoid damage to the equipment in the
harvesting process.
Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI) is also widely used in irrigation of field-crops. Precise
recurring sowing and planting in the same rows every year is obligatory. This is
supported by GPS instrumentation with sub-meter accuracy on the farm machinery.
For on-surface drip irrigation in field crops, spacing between rows and between
plants in the row can vary. Lateral and dripper spacing should conform to crop
spacing. Spacing between rows can be modified in order to reduce the number of
laterals. For example, instead of uniform 1 m spacing between rows, they are paired
at 80 cm within the pair and 1.20 m between adjacent pairs. This allows the
installation of one lateral in the middle of each pair, (at 40 cm from each row), instead
of one lateral per row and decreases total lateral length in the plot by 50%.
With SDI, there are dilemmas regarding the spacing and depth of laterals. For deep-
rooted crops such as cotton growing on heavy soil, spacing between laterals can be
twice the spacing between rows - approximately 2 m. This requires germinating
irrigation by a separate irrigation system, such as self-propelled irrigation machines.
Innovative approaches are being examined to solve the germination irrigation
problem. For crops with shallow root systems, the maximum spacing between
laterals is 1 m and installation depth is 30 – 40 cm, which limits tillage options.
12.5.2.1. Drip Irrigation in Cotton
Drip irrigation in cotton is applied mainly on shallow soils, small or irregular plots and
on steep slopes. In substantial amount area of drip irrigated cotton, on-surface
retrievable laterals are laid out after planting and retrieved pre-harvest. Dedicated
machinery developed for this technology enables deployment of up to 8 rows at one

79
pass. SDI systems are used mainly in heavy compacted soils to avoid using
laying/retrieving machinery on wet soil.
Since cotton is a non-edible crop and relatively salt-tolerant, substantial areas of
cotton are irrigated with low-quality reclaimed and brackish water. Reclaimed water
requires high-quality filtration systems and clog-resistant drippers with self dirt
release mechanisms.

Fig. 12.5. Mechanized deployment of drip laterals Fig. 12.6. Cotton root development
From "Naan" brochure

12.5.2.2. Drip Irrigation of Tomatoes for the Processing Industry


Drip irrigation is highly advantageous in processing tomatoes. It is well suitable to
optimize water and nutrient supply according to climate conditions, phenological
stages, yield potential and timing of harvest. It can increase yields and maximize the
dry matter and sugar content of the produce. Processing tomatoes are sown with 1.5
– 2 m intervals between rows, and irrigated with one or two laterals per row,
depending on soil texture, depth and stratification,
SDI installation eliminates the troublesome lateral retrieval under the sprawling
plants. Improved quality was also reported with SDI due to better nutrient utilization
and elimination of soil surface wetting.

80
12.5.2.3. Drip Irrigation of
Potatoes
Potatoes are irrigated with one lateral
per row laid in a shallow groove on
top of the hillock. Burying the lateral 5
– 15 cm deep with small spacing, 10
– 20 cm between drippers along the Fig. 12.7. Potatoes - Laterals on top of hillocks
lateral creates a continuous wetted After Kremmer & Kenig, 1996
strip along the row.
12.5.2.4. Drip Irrigation of Corn
Corn is highly responsive to drip irrigation. Optimal supply of nutrients in drip
irrigation triggers bigger cobs and increased yield. Laterals are laid one per row or
between paired rows, depending on soil type.
12.5.2.5. Drip Irrigation of Alfalfa
The use of reclaimed water for irrigation of alfalfa requires the use of SDI in order to
avoid plant contamination by pathogens. The deep root system of alfalfa allows for
spacing of 1 – 1.2 m between laterals, without decrease in yield.
12.5.3. Drip Irrigation of Vegetables
Most vegetables grown both in the open field and in protective structures respond
positively to drip irrigation and fertigation. Drip irrigation facilitates the adjustment of
water and nutrients supply to crop consumption regime.
The predominant technology in open field cultures is on-surface seasonally-
retrievable drip irrigation. SDI is only seldom installed. Yield decrease in long-term
SDI irrigation in certain vegetable species has been reported. Recently, due to
difficulties in germination and emergence in SDI, there has been a comeback of
traditional on-surface drip irrigation in California, the pioneer of SDI in vegetables.
12.5.3.1. Drip Irrigation of Open-field Tomatoes, Peppers and Eggplants
Drip irrigation of the major species of the Solanaceae family is expanding worldwide.
Water saving and decrease in fungal diseases compared with sprinkler irrigation, and
improved nutrient supply compared with furrow irrigation, result in increased yields.
The common layout is one lateral per row or between a closely spaced pair of rows.
The soil type determines the spacing between drippers on the lateral which range
from 10 cm apart for thin-wall tapes in sandy soils, to 50 cm apart for thick-wall
hoses in heavy soils.
12.5.3.2. Drip Irrigation of Strawberries
Strawberries are mostly grown on four-row raised beds with plastic mulch in the open
field. The spacing between the rows is 20 – 30, and between plants in the rows, 15 –
30 cm. The common layout is one lateral between each pair of rows and spacing of
10 – 30 cm between drippers along the lateral. The laterals are installed beneath the
plastic mulch in order to decrease incidences of Botrytis, which is boosted by direct
contact of the berries with wet soil.

81
12.5.3.3. Drip Irrigation of Cucumbers, Melons and Watermelons
The wide spacing between rows (1 – 2 m) in the Cucurbitaceae family results in great
water saving during the early growth stages before the full coverage by foliage. The
wide spacing reduces the amount of laterals required to cover the plot.
12.5.3.4. Drip Irrigation of Celery
Celery is grown on 4 row beds, 1.5 – 2 m wide. Laterals are laid out between each
pair of rows. Drippers are spaced 20 – 30 cm apart along the lateral.
12.5.3.5. Drip Irrigation of Cabbage and Lettuce
Cabbage and lettuce are grown on 4 row beds, 1.5 – 2 m wide. Laterals are laid in
the middle of each pair of rows and the drippers are spaced 20 cm along the lateral.
12.5.3.6. Drip Irrigation of Cauliflower
Cauliflower is grown on a double-row bed, 1.2 -1.8 wide. On heavy and medium
textured soils, the common layout is one lateral per bed, in the middle of the pair of
rows. On sandy soil, one lateral per row is the preferred layout. Dripper spacing
along the lateral is 20 – 30 cm.
12.5.4. Drip Irrigation of Protected Crops
Protected crops have three levels of protection:
12.5.4.1. Greenhouses and High Tunnels
Full height structures enable free passage and utilization of considerable vertical
space to optimize the ambient environment.
Greenhouses employ two basic types of growing beds:
a. Native soil
b. Detached media.
Full environmental control is gaining momentum in greenhouses. However, in most of
them, only irrigation and nutrition are automatically controlled yet.
12.5.4.2. Low Tunnels
In low tunnels, a lower degree of control maintained that provides only partial
environmental control, but typically, irrigation and plant nutrition are fully controlled.
12.5.4.3. Plastic Mulch
The lowest degree of protection, plastic mulch, covers the soil to preserve water,
reduce temperature fluctuations within the root-zone and eliminate direct contact of
the fruit and foliage with the soil and the irrigation water.

82
Fig, 12.8. Wide-scale drip irrigation in greenhouses Courtesy "Netafim"
Most of the protected cropping area is irrigated by drip irrigation. For crops grown on
native soil, the drip system layout is similar to the systems that are implemented in
the open field. The only difference is that protected crops are grown mostly on coarse
textured soils that may be imported from an exterior site if the local native soil has a
fine texture. Coarser soils require narrower spacing between laterals and drippers as
well as shorter intervals between irrigations.
When required, the relative humidity within protected structures is increased by
spray, fogger or sprinkling emitters.
Most of the detached beds have a low water-retention capacity requiring frequent
watering and dense layout of laterals and drippers. In pot plants, multi-outlet drippers
are used, as well as dedicated drippers such as the arrow dripper.
Many of the detached beds contain fully or partially inert materials. Therefore
complete fertilization is required including all the 15 plant nutrition elements. Some of
these elements cannot be mixed together in their concentrated forms, and 2 – 4
separate fertilizer tanks are required, each with its own injector. More sophisticated
systems employ a mixing tank in which 2 – 4 different nutrient solutions are mixed
with water and injected into the irrigation system. The nutrient mixture is diluted with
water to the final nutrient concentration required and pumped into the irrigation
system.

83
Environmentally controlled
greenhouses are expensive. Therefore,
in order to maximize income, the
available space is filled to the
maximum: potted plants, propagation
beds, grafts and trays for germinating
transplants are arranged in several
horizontal layers, on separate floors,
and one above another. Multi-outlet
drippers are the most economical
irrigation emitters for this arrangement.
Fig. 12.9. Drip irrigation of potted plants in
Greenhouses that recycle drainage greenhouse Courtesy "Netafim"
water for reuse in irrigation require a
sterilization system to prevent infestation by pests such as fungi, bacteria,
nematodes and viruses that may be present in the recirculated water.
Sterilization can be achieved with three techniques:
a. Ultra violet (UV) irradiation.
b. Heating the recycled water to high temperatures.
c. Filtering the water with Slow Sand Filters (SSF).
All these systems are monitored with and controlled by diverse sensors and
computerized controllers.
1.2.5.5. Drip Irrigation in
Landscaping
Drip irrigation has been adopted for
private and public landscaping. Some
small-scale private landscape
installations use adjustable drippers to
facilitate simultaneous irrigation of plants
with different water requirements.
Adjustable drippers are also useful when
plant water requirements change during
the irrigation season. Fig. 12.10. Roadside drip irrigation Courtesy
"Netafim"
SDI is used in limited scale on turf and
golf courses as well as in sports facilities such as football grounds and tennis courts.
Dripper density in turf grounds is much higher than in agriculture. Spacing of 40 – 50
cm between laterals is common in sandy turf and sport grounds with coarse
aggregates like volcanic tuff, pumice, gravel and perlite infrastructure.
Drip irrigation is the optimal solution for roadside irrigation, along sidewalks and at
interchanges. In addition to substantial saving in irrigation water, it eliminates the
hazard of wetted roads and walking lanes.
When landscape water supply is connected to a drinking-water supply system,
installation of backflow preventers is obligatory. In many countries, installation and
proper management of backflow preventers is compulsory and enforced by state or
local authority regulations.

84
13. DESIGN OF MICROIRRIGATION SYSTEMS
13.1. Basic Guidelines
13.1.1. Application Uniformity
A fundamental requirement in designing irrigation system is uniform water application
in concurrently irrigating blocks that are comprised of the same crop, same age,
same phenological phase and the same spacing. Since 100% uniformity in flow rate
of emitters is never attainable; by convention, a difference of 10% between maximum
and minimum of emitters’ flow rate is acceptable.
13.1.2. Peak Water Consumption
The system capacity has to correspond with the crop water requirement. The piping
network will enable the coordination of water application to seasonal changes in
consumption and to the peak seasonal water consumption.
13.1.3. Durability
The chosen components as well as their mode of installation have to guarantee long
term durability.
13.1.4. Economic Considerations
Economic considerations have to be taken into account in choosing the equipment
and the layout. Both the annual return of the initial investment and the long term
current annual expenses have to be taken into account.
13.2. The Design Procedure
The design process is comprised of several steps.
13.2.1. Choosing Emitter and Layout
The preliminary stage of design after the end of the planning phase in which peak
daily and hourly water demand had been calculated, time intervals and irrigation
dosage had been decided and fertilization regime had been determined, is to choose
the emitter and the optimal system layout. The spacing between laterals and
between the emitters on the laterals has to correspond with the crop spacing and the
water conductivity attributes of the soil.

85
13.2.2. Checking Alternative Layouts
When designing irrigation systems, it is imperative to analyze several alternatives,
comparing initial investment cost, labor and energy expenses.

1. Comb layout 2. Splitted comb

3. Central fishbone 4. Asymmetric fishbone

5. Splitted fishbone 6. Dual fishbone


Fig. 13.1. Different design layouts
Choosing the optimal layout depends on diverse and frequently contradicting
considerations. Longer laterals may enable shorter main and submain lines and
saving of accessories but oblige the use of larger diameters. The comb layout saves
outlets but necessitates larger diameter of the distributing line. Frequently, it is
economically favorable to lay manifolds of smaller diameters that reduce the cost of
fittings in expense of the additional cost of the manifold piping. Manifolds simplify
operation and automation in case of the need to split the plot for separate water
applications.

86
The primary phase in the design of the system is the calculation of the head losses
created by the water flow. There are diverse procedures for calculating head losses.
In the past, designers used tables, slide rulers and nomograms. Dedicated software
for irrigation design and on-line calculators replaced those old fashion procedures.
Emitter manufacturers indicate the
maximum allowed length of drip and
other micro-emitter laterals on flat land
and in sloping ground, keeping
emitters' flow rate variance in laterals
within 10% (+/- 5% of the average).
The design practice is divided into two
phases. In the first phase, head losses
are calculated from the distal end to
the head of the plot, using nominal
values of head and discharge. In the Fig. 13.2. Manifolds save accessories cost
second phase, the design is checked
and adjusted, going from the head to the distal end. At this stage, the calculation
relates to concrete data of discharge and head losses. The map of the plot is divided
into sectors and detailed calculations are performed on each pipe segment. The
data have to be registered in a design form.
Head losses in accessories can be calculated using the concept of equivalent
length (see nomogram in page 127). The data manipulated with this concept present
head losses in a virtual pipe of the same diameter as that of the accessory. Most
manufacturers provide tables and nomograms of the head losses in their products.
Local head loss in an accessory can be also calculated, using its flow factor (Kv), if
available.
13.2.3. Water Flow Velocity
Water flow velocity determines the head losses in the system. As flow velocity
increases, the head losses are amplified. In flow velocity over 2.5 m/second, the
energy waste due to head losses decreases the economic viability of the system. In
mainlines high velocities may trigger water hammer that results in pipe burst. Hence
in the preliminary phases of design the expected velocity in manifolds is kept within
the range of 2 – 2.5 m/second and in mainlines below 1.5 m/second.
13.2.4. Spacing
Spacing between laterals and between emitters on the lateral is determined by the
spacing between rows and between plants in the row, Soil depth, its texture and the
characteristics of the root system.
13.2.5. Choosing Emitters and Laterals
Choosing of the emitter (inline, online, splitted, etc.) and lateral type will relate to the
farming technology. The desired durability of the system will determine the options
between thick-walled and thin-walled laterals. Topography may affect choosing of
pressure compensating or conventional emitters.
The chosen emitters and their flow rate will correspond with spacing, planned
irrigation regime, soil permeability and the capacity of water supply. Additional

87
considerations are crop response to water distribution patterns and climate control
requirements.
The actual design is separated into two phases:
1. Layout of laterals and manifolds.
2. Layout of the mainline and the submains.
13.3. Design of Drip Irrigation System for Row Crops
In row crops, the layout has to correspond with crop spacing, soil texture and
topography.
Example
Retrievable drip system for irrigation of maize on flat ground
Basic data (manipulated as described in chapter 12)
Crop: Maize, length of growing season – 135 days, root system depth – 1 m.
Plot dimensions: 420 × 200 m. For harvest convenience, the plot is divided in
the middle and row length is 100 in each side. The plot is partitioned to 7
blocks, 60 m wide each.
Soil: Sandy loam, Available water – 12% v/v, allowed depletion in peak season
– 60%.
Topography: 0% slope (flat ground)
Spacing: 100 cm between rows, 30 cm between plants in the row
Peak season daily gross water requirement: 7 mm
Water Source: Reservoir, pumping requested.
In sandy loam, the favored choice is 30 cm distance between drippers on lateral
(corresponding with plant spacing). In this case it allocates one emitter per each
plant.
Firstly, choice of drippers and laterals has to take place. Drawing laterals, 100
m long, to both sides from the middle, represents 333 drippers per lateral.
In retrievable on-surface drip irrigation the favored emitter is internal integral dripper
that is the least prone to damage during deployment and retrieval of the laterals.
Four types of integral drippers can be considered:
1. Pressure compensating dripper in thick-wall lateral
2. Pressure compensating dripper in thin-wall lateral
3. Non-pressure compensating dripper in thick-wall lateral
4. Non-pressure compensating dripper in thin-wall lateral
Below are the technical data of the applicable drippers

88
Table 13.1. Compensating dripper (compensating pressure threshold – 4 m) data
Model OD –mm Wall thickness – mm ID – mm PN – bars Kd
16012 16.10 1.2 13.70 4.0 1.6
16010 16.10 1.0 14.10 3.5 1.3
16009 16.10 0.9 14.20 3.0 1.2
OD=Outer diameter, ID=Inner diameter, PN=Working Pressure, Kd=Coefficient of disturbance to flow
The above table demonstrates the difference in Kd between model 16012 (wall
thickness 12 mm) and model 16009 (wall thickness 9 mm). As the inner diameter is
greater, the Kd of a given dripper will be lower. That will enable longer laterals. On the
other hand, thicker wall allows for higher working pressure and guarantees longer
durability.
Table 13.2. Max. lateral length - m
Model 16012, ID = 13.70 mm, Inlet pressure 3.0 bars
Nominal Spacing between drippers - m
flow rate
0.20 0.30 0.40 0.45 0.50 0.60 0.75 0.90 1.00 1.25 1.50
l/h
Max. lateral length - m
1.2 104 151 1956 216 237 277 333 386 420 500 575
1.6 86 125 162 179 196 229 276 320 348 415 477
2.3 68 98 127 141 155 181 218 253 275 328 378
3.5 51 75 96 107 118 137 166 193 209 250 288

Table 13.3. Max. lateral length - m


Model 16009, ID = 14.20 mm, Inlet pressure 3.0 bars
Nominal Spacing between drippers - m
flow rate
0.20 0.30 0.40 0.45 0.50 0.60 0.75 0.90 1.00 1.25 1.50
l/h
Max. lateral length - m
1.2 118 170 219 242 264 307 368 426 462 548 627
1.6 98 141 181 200 219 255 305 353 383 455 521
2.3 77 111 143 158 173 201 241 279 303 360 413
3.5 58 84 108 120 131 153 184 212 231 274 314
In compensating drippers, the allowed lateral length depends on four factors:
1. The pressure in lateral inlet. As it is higher (in the limits of max. allowed
working pressure) the lateral can be longer, ensuring the regulating
pressure in its distal end.
2. Dripper flow rate. Higher flow rates dictate shorter laterals.

89
3. Distance between drippers. As it is smaller, lateral length has to be
shorter.
4. Inner diameter. Smaller inner diameter commits shorter lateral because
of the combination of higher friction head losses and the magnified
dripper’s Kd.
Table 13.4. Non compensating thick wall dripper pressure – flow rate relationship
Nominal flow Pressure - bars
rate – l/h
1.00 1.50 2.00 2.50 3.00
Actual flow rate – l/h
1.05 1.05 1.27 1.44 1.60 1.74
1.60 1.60 1.93 2.20 2.44 2.65
2.10 2.10 2.53 2.89 3.20 3.48
4.20 4.20 5.06 5.78 6.40 6.96
8.40 8.40 10.12 11.56 12.81 13.93

Table 13.5. Max. lateral length in non compensating thick wall dripper
Model 16012, OD=16.10 mm, Wall thickness=1.20 mm, ID=13.70 mm, PN=4.0 bars, Kd=0.45
Inlet pressure 1.4 bars, Nominal flow rate 1.05 l/h
Spacing between drippers - m
Slope % 0.20 0.25 0.30 0.40 0.45 0.50 0.60 0.75 0.90 1.00
Max. lateral length at 10% flow variation - m

Inlet pressure 1.4 bars, Nominal flow rate 1.60 l/h


Spacing between drippers - m
Slope % 0.20 0.25 0.30 0.40 0.45 0.50 0.60 0.75 0.90 1.00
Max. lateral length at 10% flow variation - m
Uphill -2 49 58 65 77 82 87 95 106 114 119
-1 52 62 71 86 94 100 112 128 142 150
0 56 67 77 96 105 114 130 153 174 187
Downhill 1 59 71 83 105 116 126 145 173 200 217
2 61 75 87 112 124 135 157 189 220 240

Lateral length of non-compensating drippers is significantly affected by topography.


Comparing the same nominal flow rate of 1.6 l/hour in the same lateral diameter
indicates that the allowed lateral length with the non-compensating drippers is

90
significantly shorter than in compensating ones. Longer laterals of compensating
drippers are allowed since uniform flow rate is kept as far as the head in the lateral is
above the regulating pressure. It can be noticed in table 13.5 that Topography affect
the allowed length of non compensating laterals while topography impact on
compensating drippers’ laterals is less pronounced and hence ignored in the data
table.
Table 13.6. Non compensating thin wall dripper
Nominal flow Pressure - bars
rate – l/h
1.10 1.40 1.70 2.00 2.30
Actual flow rate – l/h
1.20 1.25 1.40 1.52 1.64 1.75
2.00 2.09 2.35 2.58 2.79 2.98
2.90 3.03 3.41 3.74 4.04 4.32

Table 13.7. Max. lateral length in non compensating thin wall dripper
Model 16320, OD=17.02 mm, Wall thickness=0.81 mm, ID=15.40 mm, PN=2.3 bars, Kd=0.1
Inlet pressure 2.0 bars, Nominal flow rate 1.2 l/h
Spacing between drippers - m
Slope % 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.75
Max. lateral length at 10% flow variation - m
Uphill -2 80 101 116 128 139 151
-1 87 113 134 153 169 189
0 95 126 154 178 202 234
Downhill 1 101 137 170 201 229 273
2 107 148 184 219 251 299
Inlet pressure 2.0 bars, Nominal flow rate 2.0 l/h
Spacing between drippers - m
Slope % 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.75
Max. lateral length at 10% flow variation - m
Uphill -2 63 80 92 103 115 125
-1 67 87 104 118 133 151
0 72 96 116 136 154 177
Downhill 1 75 103 126 151 170 202
2 79 109 135 160 186 220
In thin wall laterals, the increased inner diameter allows for somewhat longer laterals

91
but the restriction on the level of working pressure has the opposite effect.
From the tables above it is comprehended that for 100 m lateral length and 30
cm distance between drippers on lateral, the below presented items are suitable:

Table 13.8 the compatible drippers


Model Pressure Nominal flow rate Working Allowed length –
compensation – l/h pressure – bar m
Ram 16012 Yes 1.2 4 151
Ram 16012 Yes 1.6 4 125
Ram 16012 Yes 2.3 4 98 (marginal)
Ram 16009 Yes 1.2 3 170
Ram 16009 Yes 1.6 3 141
Ram 16009 Yes 2.3 3 111
Tiran 16012 No 1.05 4 102
Typhoon 16320 No 1.2 2.3 126
Typhoon 16320 No 2.0 2.3 96 (marginal)
The final choice depends on preferences, cost and the designer’s past experience.
The use of Thicker-walled laterals guarantees longer durability and better pressure
surge withstanding. Lower flow rate commits longer irrigation time-length.
In calculation of head losses the critical water path had to be considered, namely,
from the control head to the distal dripper in the most distant and/or most
topographically highest point in the irrigating block.

92
Fig. 13.3. Retrievable drip irrigation system in maize layout

93
Table 13.9. DESIGN FORM
COMPENSATING RAM DRIPPER 16012, 1.6 L/H, PRESSURE IN INLRT 30 m
a. Flow rate
ITEM UNITS QUANTITY UNIT FLOW TOTAL FLOW
RATE l/h RATE l/h
Dripper 1 1.6 1.6
Lateral Drippers 333 1.6 533
Block Laterals 60 533 31,980
Plot blocks 14 31,980 447,720
b. Head losses on the way to the critical point
Segment Length – m Diameter/class Head loss – m Cumulative
head demand
E – end point Minimum required head 10 m*
D-E Lateral 100 m LDPE** OD 16 5.8 15.8 m
mm, ID 13.6
mm
C-D manifold 30 m HDPE*** 50/4 1.6 17.4 m
mm
Hydraulic Kv=95 2” 1.2 m+0.4 m- 19.0 m
valve riser and Tee
A-C main 490 m PVC**** 140/6 6.0 25 m
mm
Hydrometer Kv=135 Globe 4” 2.2 27.2 m
Filter Pair – 3” Spin- 5.0 ***** 32.2 m
kleen filters
Riser, bend and connectors 4” 2.0 34.2 m
Water lift from reservoir 7.0 41.2 m
Dynamic head requested in pump 41.2 m
Comments:
* Although the compensating (regulating) pressure threshold is 4 m it is
advised to design somewhat higher pressure to guarantee drippers’
performance in case of pressure drop in the system.
** Low Density Polyethylene
*** High Density Polyethylene
**** Polyvinyl chloride
***** The head-loss related to filters is the upper limit of head loss allowed
before flushing takes place.

94
Pump selection
The requested pump will be chosen using the formula:
×H/270×
N = Q× ×ή
Where:
N = Required HP (Horse Power)
Q = Pump discharge – (m3/h)
H = Total dynamic head – m
ή = Pump efficiency (expressed as decimal fraction)
N = 64 m3/h × 41.2 m / (270 × 0.75)*** = 2637 / 202 = 13 HP
*** Comment: Common pump efficiencies are higher than 75% but along time,
efficiency decreases. 75% is regarded as a threshold for refurbishing the pump. This
low value is adopted in design to guarantee the long-run appropriate performance of
the drip system.
c. Equipment list
Item Unit Quantity Unit cost Total

The equipment list will include detailed list of all the components of the system, the
price and the total cost. It will be used for comparison with alternative layouts. In
retrievable drip system, the cost of the device for deployment and retrieval of laterals
has to be included.
d. Operative schedule
The operative schedule will be based on the data collected and elaborated in the
planning phase. The schedule will correspond with peak season water requirement.
In this case, the basic data is as follows:
Crop: Maize, length of growing season – 135 days, root system depth – 1 m.
Plot dimensions: 420 × 200 m. For harvest convenience, the plot is splitted in
the middle and row length is 100 in each side. The plot is partitioned to 7
blocks, 60 m wide each.
Soil: Sandy loam, Available water – 12% v/v, allowed depletion in peak season
– 60%
Wetted strip width: 40% of the spacing between rows
Topography: 0% slope (flat ground)
Spacing: 100 cm between rows, 30 cm in row
Peak season daily gross water requirement: 7 mm
1. Allowed depletion: available water × percent of allowed depletion
= 12% × 60% = 7.2% v/v

95
2. Effective soil water reservoir per Ha: 10,000 m 2 × 1 m. (roots
depth) × 40% [(1 m. (raw spacing)] = 4,000 m 3 .
3. Water deficit in the allowed depletion state: 4000 m 3 × 7.2% = 288
m 3 /Ha. This is the water amount needed for replenishment of the
deficit.
4. Daily water requirement: 7 mm = 70 m 3 /Ha.
5. The derived interval between water applications: deficit/daily
water demand = 288 m 3 / 70 m 3 = 4.11 days. The integer number
will be the scheduled time interval. The dose has to be adjusted to
the actual interval: 70 m 3 × 4 days = 280 m 3 /ha per application.
6. Number of emitters per Ha: 10,000 m 2 /(1 m × 0.3 m) = 33,333
7. Application rate: 1.6 l/h × 33,333 = 53,333 l = 53.333 m 3 /Ha/h =
5.333 mm/h.
8. Irrigation time-length: 280 m 3 /h/53,333 m 3 /h = 5.25 (5:15) h.
Since drip irrigation is not sensitive to wind and evaporation, water
application can take place around the clock. It is advised to leave
some reserve hours to secure water application in case of electricity
blackouts or maintenance requirements. Four turns per day will
leave three reserve hours and three turns – 8¼ reserve hours.
9. Time schedule: The plot is partitioned to 14 blocks. If one block is
irrigated at a time, four blocks can be irrigated per day and the
irrigation cycle will last four days, corresponding with the
calculated interval. Since some farming activities have to be
performed, although drip irrigation intervene only slightly in these
activities, it is better to finish the irrigation in two days, by
irrigating two blocks at a time. The irrigation will last two days,
leaving two days in the cycle for farming activities. Taking into
account these activities, two opposing blocks will be irrigated
simultaneously in each application.
Alternative Layouts
As can be seen in table 13.8, three more choices of non-compensating drippers are
feasible.
That of the thick-wall laterals commits using dripper of 1.05 l/h that is more prone to
clogging due to its narrow water passageway. Additionally, higher pressure has to be
applied in order to guarantee acceptable uniformity of distribution.
Of the thin-wall laterals, drippers with nominal flow rate of 1.2 and 2.0 l/h can be
used. The system will be cheaper but it will last for significant shorter time because of
the seasonal deployment and retrieval of laterals.
Use of thin-wall (tape) laterals is common for short term use, 1 – 5 years, depending
on the wall thickness. In the table below there is example of one of the newest tapes

96
boasting high uniformity. In thin-wall tapes, particularly with short distance between
emitters, it is common to designate flow rate to length unit of the lateral and not to the
single emitter. In the past, the uniformity requirement from tapes was lower than from
thick wall laterals; EU 85% was accepted, compared with 90% in laterals of discrete
drippers. In the last years, production improvements facilitated achieving in tapes the
same high uniformity as in thick wall laterals. Using these tapes has to be done
cautiously. Working pressure is low, 5 – 10 m. That commits the use of pressure
regulators.
One of these innovative tapes is presented below. It has Cvm (manufacturing
coefficient of variation) as low as 2.5% (0.025) and EU of 90% – 94% is attainable.
Table 13.10. Thin-wall tape data
Emitter spacing – Flow rate – l/m/h Allowed lateral length – m in diverse EU values
cm
94% 92% 90%
20 5.0 93 113 126
30 3.0 132 155 175
40 2.4 163 192 217
60 1.5 221 258 292

The gray row presents a lateral corresponding with the former design
example. This dripper can be used, provided no pressure surges will occur and
taking into account shorter service duration. Application rate is lower than in
the former design. Time length of irrigation in the peak season will be 280 m3
/ 30 m3 = 9.6 h, roughly twice than the chosen alternative. The low application
rate allows for simultaneous irrigation of four blocks, compared with two
blocks only in the former design.
Setting up of drip systems commits the installation of air and vacuum vents as well as
pressure regulators to prevent pressure surges and water hammer that may burst the
laterals. These devices are particularly essential in tapes and other thin wall laterals,
due to their low working pressure.
13.3.1. Effect of Topography
In the given example, topography can be ignored due to the flat nature of the plot. In
case of sloping topography, the hydraulic design has to take into account the effect of
topography. If feasible, Mains and submains will deliver water from the higher
positions to the lower ones. Manifolds will be laid in sloping land adjacent to the
higher edge, asymmetrically splitting the laterals. As far as possible, laterals also will
run downward from the higher area to the lower.
Use of compensating drippers decreases the complexity of design in harsh
topographic conditions. Use of pressure regulators may also facilitate equalizing the
pressure in sloping plots.
To avoid disturbance to farm activities, distributing pipes and manifolds will be
installed when possible, in considerable distance form the growing rows.

97
13.4. Subsurface Drip
Irrigation (SDI)
Set up of SDI commits the
installation of supplementary
accessories.
13.4.1. System Flushing
System routine flushing is
necessary to avoid the
accumulation of dirt in laterals
and clogging of the drippers.
The common practice is the
installation of collecting pipes
to which the lateral distal ends
are connected by manifolds.
The valves connecting the
manifolds to the collector pipe
are intermittently opened
manually or automatically for
flushing of the laterals.
13.4.2. Contamination by
Soil Particles
Another nuisance in SDI
systems is the suction of soil
particles into the drippers by
the vacuum created when the
water shutdown. To avoid the Fig. 13.4. SDI layout
suction, atmospheric vacuum
vents have to be installed on the distributing manifold. Additional means that reduce
laterals contamination by soil is the use of non-leakage drippers that shut the water
outlets on water shutdown.
13.4.3. Root Intrusion
Drippers in SDI are prone to clogging by intruding roots. The common counter
measure is the application of trifluraline (TreflanTM) that sterilizes the soil adjacent to
the dripper. The application can be done in three techniques:
a. Injection of the agent into the irrigation system, 2 – 4 times in the
irrigation season by means of the fertigation devices.
b. Using treflan-impregnated drippers.
c. Using treflan-impregnated filtration element. The element is replaced in
1 - 2 years intervals.
13.4.4. Lateral Placement
In annuals the recurring sowing/planting precisely above the subsurface laterals is
particularly important to guarantee adequate plant development in the early phases
of the growing season. For that end GPS equipped machinery has to be used. The
depth of installation of the laterals ranges from shallow 5-15 cm in hillocks of

98
potatoes and groundnuts to 35 - 45 cm in cotton. The deeper placement poses
difficulties in emergence irrigation but allows for undisturbed land tillage.
13.5. Design of Drip Irrigation in Protected Crops
Protected crops are grown in diverse levels of protection. The highest level is in the
environmentally controlled greenhouses. Less sophisticated are the ordinary
greenhouses and high tunnels, in which only the irrigation and fertilization are
automatically controlled. The lowest level is in low tunnels and mulched cropping,
where irrigation is operated manually or with a low level of automation.
Protected crops are grown on native local soil or on variety of natural and artificial
beds. Each combination of bed and control level commits the design of compatible
irrigation system.
In crops grown on native soil, the design is principally similar to that of design for
crops in the open field. Many of the protected crops have dense stand, high value of
produce and high sensitivity to water stress. These attributes commit smaller spacing
between emitters and shorter time intervals between water applications.
Example
Strawberries drip system
Strawberries are grown in
wide scale in low tunnels
or on mulched beds in the
open field. The beds arise
15 –30 cm above the
walking lanes. Bed width
is from 50 cm with one
pair of rows to 100 cm
with two pairs of rows.
Spacing between rows and
between plants in the row
is 30 cm. Walking lane
width is 50 cm. Drip
laterals are laid beneath
the mulch on the soil
surface or buried 5 – 10
cm deep in the soil.
In case of one pair per
bed, lateral length per
hectare is 10,000 m2/1m
(distance between bed
centers) = 10,000 m. In
dual pair bed, the length
Fig. 13.5. thin-wall non-compensating laterals in
will be 10,000 m2/ (1.5 strawberries – excessive head losses
m/2) = 13,333 m per

99
hectare.
Laying and retrieval of the laterals are done more delicately than in field crops.
Hence thin wall tapes are suitable. In the example in the former page, 16 mm OD
tape had been chosen. The emitters are spaced 30 cm on the lateral; their nominal
flow rate is 1.2 l/h. in 10 m water head.
Since the drippers are not pressure compensating, their flow rates are significantly
affected by the head loss along the lateral. As depicted in the drawing, pressure in
lateral drops from 13 m in its start to 10 m in its distal end. That renders flow rate
range of 1.2 – 1.35 l/h. The difference of 0.15 l/h from 1.2 l/h is beyond the common
acceptable difference of 10%.
Moreover, in the manifold of 50/4 mm, the head loss is 2 m. the meaning is that the
pressure range in simultaneously irrigating drippers will be 15 – 10 m and the flow
rate range will be 1.2 – 1.42 l/h, 15% difference. That discrepancy can be resolved by
using manifold of wider diameter, e.g. 63/4 mm.
The above example highlights the advantage of using pressure-compensating
drippers.
13.6. Design of Irrigation Systems in Greenhouses
The wealth of growing beds in greenhouses commits thorough matching of the
irrigation system with the combination of crop-bed characteristics. Many growing
beds (substrates) have extremely low water retention that commits frequent watering.
Crop water consumption is defined per hour and in many cases water is applied
several times a day. Irrigation in shallow detached-beds of low water retention,
releases considerable amounts of water and nutrients in drainage. In order to
eliminate environmental contamination and save the drained water and nutrients,
circulation of the drainage is accomplished in many greenhouses. The reuse of the
recycled water for irrigation obligates sterilization of the water. Sterilization is
achieved either by deep sand filtration, UV irradiation, heating or ozonation.
Control of temperature and air relative humidity is essential in sensitive crops grown
in greenhouse. Irrigation can be used to moderate extreme, high or low temperatures
by the absorption or release of heat from the water. Air relative humidity can be
increased by irrigation.
Irrigation for climate control commits the installation of misters, foggers or ordinary
micro-jets and micro-sprinklers. The irrigation for climate control is applied
intermittently in short pulses. Operation is regulated by computerized controllers or
by simple timers. Frequently, a dual irrigation system is installed – drippers for
irrigation and misters/micro-sprinklers for climate control.
13.7. Irrigation Design in Orchards
Orchard irrigation has to comply with fruit trees characteristics:
a. Perennial cropping.
b. Big plant canopies.
c. Deep root systems
d. Wide spacing, 3 – 15 m between rows, 1.5 – 10 m in row.
e. Sensitivity to extreme weather conditions.

100
These characteristics determine the selection of the irrigation technology.
Among the micro irrigation technologies, drip irrigation is favored in saline soils,
windy climate as well as in compacted and sloped lands. Micro-jets and micro-
sprinklers are favored in climate sensitive crops as well as in sandy and shallow
soils.
13.7.1. Drip Irrigation in Orchards
Crops growing in orchards are perennials. The irrigation system has to be durable to
avoid of the need of frequent system rehabilitations. The wide spacing in orchards
poses the dilemma of how many laterals to install per row. In rows spaced up to 6 m
apart, in medium and heavy soils, one lateral per row is satisfactory in most cases. In
wider spacing between rows as well as in sandy and shallow lands, two laterals per
row is the favored alternative. Another layout in wide-spaced plantations is small
circled laterals around the trunk.
Example: Design of drip system in apple orchard:
Crop Data
Crop: Apple
Variety: Golden
Delicious
Area: 9.6 ha.
Partition: 4 blocks, 80 X
300 m, each
Topography: 3.5 m slope
from NW to SE
Spacing: 5 X 4 m
Irrigation season: April
- October
Harvest: Sept. – Oct.
Active root system Fig. 13.6. Apple orchard – 9.6 Ha
depth: 80 cm .
Maximum allowed water depletion: 40%
Peak-season average reference evaporation: 8 mm/day
Peak-season crop coefficient: 0.9
Soil data
Texture: Loamy clay
Depth: 1.20 – 1.50 m
Bulk Density: 1.4
Field capacity: 32% V/V

101
Permanent Wilting Point: 15% V/V
Available Water: 17% V/V
Percentage of wetted area by one lateral: 30%
Water Supply Data
Maximum supply hours: 14 hours a day
Maximum available hourly discharge: 100 m3/h
EC water: 1.2 dS/m
Chloride content: 150 mg/l
Calculation of daily Peak Season Water Demand:
Daily average evaporation × Crop coefficient = 8 mm × 0.9 = 7.2 mm/day
Gross daily demand, assuming application efficiency of 90%: 7.2/90% = 8
mm/d
Soil water reservoir volume per ha: Inter row spacing × root system depth ×
wetted area percentage = 10,000 m × 30% × 0.8 m = 2400 m3
Easily available water soil capacity = resrvoir volume × available water (%)×
Allowed deplition (%) = 2400 m3 × 17% × 40% = 163 m3/ha = 16.3 mm
Max interval between irrigations = easily available water soil capacity / daily
demand = 16.3 mm / 8 mm/day ≈ 2 days
Irrigation dose: 8 mm/day × 2 days = 16 mm
Two alternatives will be compared:
a. On-line non-compensating dripper laterals
b. Integral compensating dripper laterals
In orchards, the laterals are laid permanently, so, the protrusion from the lateral of
on-line drippers, does not disturb. Online drippers can be installed gradually on the
lateral. In early years – only 1–2 drippers per tree, adding drippers in correspondence
with the root system expansion. On-line drippers have a woodpecker version that
facilitates burying the lateral with the drippers underground and emitting the water on
the soil surface by-means of micro-tubes.
Firstly the minimum flow rate (mm/hour) has to correspond with the limit of 14
hours of water supply a day. 16 mm/ 14 hours = 1.14 mm/h

102
Non-compensating
drippers with flow rate of
4 l/hour render
application rate of 0.8
mm/h, not satisfactory yet.
Drippers of nominal 8 l/h
renders in that spacing
application rate of 1.6
mm/h.
Application rate of 1.14
l/h can be achieved with
drippers of 4 l/h, spaced Fig. 13.7. Non-compensating on-line drippers flow rate -
pressure relationship
70 cm along the lateral.
Whenever non-compensating drippers are in use, pressure regulators have to be
installed on submains and manifolds in order to equalize as much as possible the
pressure in the simultaneously irrigating blocks.
The second checked alternative would be Ram 16 compensating dripper (OD =
16 mm) with flow rate of 3.5 l/h, spaced 60 cm apart on the lateral. In spacing of
5 X 0.6 m, the application rate will be 1.17 mm/hour, somewhat above the
minimum requested flow rate.
Table 13..2. (Duplicate) Max. lateral length – m. compensating dripper laterals
Model 16012, ID = 13.70 mm, Inlet pressure 3.0 bars
Nominal Spacing between drippers - m
flow rate
0.20 0.30 0.40 0.45 0.50 0.60 0.75 0.90 1.00 1.25 1.50
l/h
Max. lateral length - m
1.2 104 151 1956 216 237 277 333 386 420 500 575
1.6 86 125 162 179 196 229 276 320 348 415 477
2.3 68 98 127 141 155 181 218 253 275 328 378
3.5 51 75 96 107 118 137 166 193 209 250 288

103
Diverse layouts are feasible. Two of them will be considered as drawn in
the scheme below.

One main, centered Two submains


Fig. 13.8. Two of the feasible layouts
In the drawing above, two of the feasible layouts are presented. A single
mainline in the center, simplifies the design, shortens the main and saves
in excavation length in expense of larger pipe diameter.
The drawback of this layout is the ascending of the manifolds north to the
main. In non-compensating drippers of low operating pressure, 10 – 20
m, the upward flow of the water may create pressure difference beyond
the common accepted 20%. Since the exponent of the chosen non-
compensating dripper is 0.5, pressure difference higher than 20%, will
create flow rate difference higher than 10%.
Two submains increase the length of the distributing lines but decrease
the differences in flow rate caused by topography. Additionally, the
manifolds can be of narrower diameter, compensating for the longer
distribution lines.
Table 13.11. Basic data
Parameter Unit Amount Nominal flow rate
On-line dripper Piece 1 4 l/10 m head
Lateral m 40
Drippers distance on lateral m 0.7
Drippers per lateral piece 40/0.7 = 57 4 l/h × 114 = 230 l/h
Number of laterals per block piece 60 14 m3/h
No. of blocks in the plot piece 8 112 m3
Irrigation cycle day 2
Flow rate per a single day .m3/h 112/2 = 56

104
Fig. 13.9. Non- compensating drip system

105
Table 13.12. HEAD LOSSES CALCULATION FORM
Segment Flow Length N.D* H f Outlets F- Hf – Hz – Total Cumulative
rate -m factor m m
.mm/class ** - ∆H- ∆H - m
m3/h *** **** ******
% m
JK 0.23 40 16/4 4.2 57 0.6 0 0.6 0.6
lateral
HJ 5.5 60 40/4 5.5 12 0.36 1.1 0.5 1.1 1.7
manifold
HL 8.5 90 40/4 15 18 0.36 4.7 -0.5 4.2 5.9
manifold
HL 8.5 90 50/4 5 18 0.36 1.5 -0.5 1.0 1
manifold
EH 14.0 160 75/4 2 0 1 3.2 -2 1.2 2.2
submain
FG 0.23 40 16/4 3.5 57 0.5 0 0.5 2.7
lateral
DF 5.5 60 40/4 5.5 12 0.36 1.2 0.5 1.7 3.4
manifold
BD 28 130 75/4 6 0 1 7.8 1 8.8 11.5-12.2
submain
BE 28 210 90/ 4 2.2 0 1 4.5 1 4 7.4
mainline
The gray rows designate alternatives rejected because of unacceptable head losses
* ND = Nominal diameter, Class – indicates the working pressure, in bars.
** Hf - % Friction head losses, expressed as meter head per 100 m pipe length.
*** F factor – the decimal fraction multiplier of Hf in distributing pipes, ranges from 0.5
for two outlets up to 0.362 for > 100 outlets.
Hf = The calculated friction head loss according to the pipe inner diameter, its smoothness,
its length and number of outlets.
Hz = The effect of topography expressed in m height. Minus sign designates descending
slope.
Table 13.13. HEAD LOSSES IN THE CONTROL HEAD, flow rate 56 m3/h
Component Diameter Characteristics Head-loss - m
Riser 4”- 1 m high 0.03
Hydrometer 4” Kv = 150 1.4
Filter 3” - pair Back-flush threshold – 5 m 5
Total 6.4

106
Table 13.14. HEAD LOSSES IN THE HYDRAULIC VALVES ON THE SUBMAINS flow rate 14 m3/h
Pressure 2” Kv = 50 0.8 m
reducing valve
Table 13.15. Total requested dynamic head
Operation pressure 10 m
Topographic difference (max) 2 m*
Friction head losses in lateral 0.5 m
Friction head losses in manifold 1.5 m
Friction head losses in mainline 7.9 m
Control head 6.4 m
Pressure reducing valves 0.8 m
Total 29.1 m

Comments
a. In a cycle of 2 days, blocks a, d, e and h will be irrigated on day 1;
blocks b, c, f and g will be irrigated on day 2. In order to equalize
the pressure in the simultaneously irrigating blocks, the hydraulic
valves on the submains will be of the pressure reducing valves type.
b. Laterals of class 4 (not of class 2.5) had been chosen in order to
guarantee wall thick enough to fasten the dripper barb for the long
run.
c. In order to better handle the topographic slope, the submains are
not laid in the middle of the blocks but closer to the higher ground.
d. Since the actual operating pressure in the drippers will be in the
range of 10 – 12 m, the actual flow rate of the blocks will be 5% -
10% higher than the designed flow rate that does not affect
significantly the pressure regime. Actually, in designing it is taken
into account that the average flow is a little bit higher than the
nominal.

107
Second alternative – compensating dripper laterals
Table 13.16. BASIC DATA
Parameter Unit Amount Nominal flow rate
Integral compensating dripper piece 1 3.5 l/hour
Lateral m 40
Drippers distance on lateral m 0.6
Drippers per lateral piece 40/0.6 = 67 3.5 l/h × 67 = 235 l/h
Number of laterals per block piece 60 60 × 0.235= 14.1 m3/h
No. of blocks in the plot Sub plot 8 112.8 m3/h
Irrigation cycle day 2
Flow rate per a single shift .m3/h 112.8/2 = 56.4 m3/h

Fig. 13.10. Compensating drip system

108
Table 13.17. Head-loss calculation
Segment Flow Length N.D H f Outlets F- Hf - Hz - Total Cumulative
rate -m .mm/class -% factor m m ∆H- ∆H - m
3
m /h m
FG 0.23 40 16/4 4.2 67 1.0 0.5 1.5 1.5
Lateral
EF 14 150 50/4 8 30 0.36 4.2 0.5 4.7 6.2
Manifold
BE 28 240 PVC 110/6 0.9 0 1 2.2 -1.5 0.7 6.9
Mainline
AB 56 40 PVC 110/6 2.6 0 1 1 0 1.1 8.0
Mainline
KL 0.23 40 16/4 4.2 67 1.0 0.5 1.5 1.5
Lateral
IK 14 150 50/4 8 30 0.35 4.2 1 5.2 6.7
Manifold
AH 56 120 PVC 110/6 2.6 0 1 3.1 -0.5 2.6 9.3
Mainline
CD 0.23 40 16/4 4.2 67 1.0 0.5 1.5 1.5
Lateral
BC 14 150 50/4 8 30 0.36 4.2 2 6.2 7.7
Manifold
AB 56 40 PVC 110/6 2.6 0 1 1 0 1 8.7
Mainline
JM 0.23 40 16/4 4.2 67 1.0 0.5 1.5 1.5
Lateral
HJ 14 150 50/4 8 30 0.36 4.2 2 6.2 7.7
Manifold
AH 56 120 PVC 110/6 2.6 0 1 3.1 -0.5 2.6 11.8
Mainline
Table 13.18. Total requested dynamic head
Pressure requested in lateral distal end 10 m
Head loss in lateral
1.0 m
Maximum head loss in manifold
4.2 m
Maximum head loss in mainline
3.1 m
Topographic difference
2m
Control head losses
8m
Total 28.15 m

109
Comments
a. Using compensating drippers renders more flexibility in design and
allows for higher head losses in the distributing system.
b. Additional advantage of using compensating drippers is the
capability to run longer laterals and save manifolds. This
advantage is not presented in the example since in case of use of
longer laterals, the manifolds have to be replaced by pipes of
larger diameter.
c. The major advantage of the compensating dripper is the high level
of uniformity in harsh topographic conditions.
d. As mentioned before, in coarse textured soils and in shallow lands,
two laterals per row are the favored layout. The distance between
the two laterals is 80 – 150 cm, depends on the space between the
rows and the soil characteristics.
13.8. Design of Micro-jet and Micro-sprinkler Systems in Orchards
Micro-jets and micro-sprinklers have flow rates in the range of 20 – 200 l/h. The
common layout in orchards is of one lateral per row. In densely planted rows – 2-3 m
distance between trees in the row, one emitter can suffice per two trees. Over 3 m
space in the row, one emitter per tree is the prevalent layout. In some more spacious
plantations with spacing greater than 6 × 6 m, two emitters per tree are frequently
installed. The placement of the emitter in the row depends on the shape of the tree
canopy. In those crops that the canopy leaves considerable height above soil surface
free for water distribution, the emitter is placed in the middle between two trees. In
trees that their canopies bend toward the soil surface, converge with each other in
the middle between the two trees, the emitter is placed 0.5 – 1 m from the trunk.
Like drippers, there are pressure compensating and non-pressure compensating
emitters. The choice between micro-sprinklers, micro-jets and ray-jets takes place in
respect to spacing, soil type and crop response. In spacious spacing, micro-
sprinklers that wet greater area are favored, in densely planted orchards, micro-jets
are more suitable and in heavy and compact soils, prone to run-off, as well as in
windy conditions, ray-jets are the best performers.
Example
Crop Data
Crop: Citrus
Variety: Washington Navel
Area: 11.5 Ha.
Partition: 4 blocks, 80 X 360 m, each
Topography: 3.5 m slope from NW to SE
Spacing: 6 X 4 m

110
Irrigation season: April - October
Harvest: October-December
Active root system depth: 100 cm
Maximum allowed water depletion:
60%
Peak-season average reference
evaporation: 7 mm/day
Peak-season crop coefficient: 0.7
Soil data
Texture: Loamy clay
Depth: 1.20 – 1.50 m
Bulk Density: 1.4
Field Capacity: 32% V/V
Permanent Wilting Point: 15% V/V Fig. 13.11. Citrus grove - 11.5 ha.

Available Water: 17% V/V


Table. 13.19. the chosen emitter
Percentage of wetted area: 60%
Non regulated (non compensating) Jet sprayer
Climate Data performance data
Peak season average daily class A Nozzle Pressure Flow rate Wetting
pan evaporation: 8 mm color bars l/h diameter
code
m
Water Supply Data
Blue 1.5 55 5.6
Maximum supply hours: 20 hours
a day 2.0 64 5.8

Maximum available hourly 2.5 70 6.0


discharge: 150 m3/h 3.0 77 6.2
EC water: 1.2 dS/m Green 1.5 64 6.6
Chloride content: 150 mg/l 2.0 75 7.0
Calculation of daily Peak Season 2.5 83 7.2
Water Demand 3.0 91 7.8
Daily average evaporation × Crop Red 1.5 90 8.2
coefficient = 8 mm × 0.7 = 5.6 2.0 102 8.6
mm/day
2.5 115 9.2
Gross daily demand, assuming 3.0 126 9.8
application efficiency of 80%:
5.6/80% = 7 mm/d

111
Soil water reservoir volume per ha: Inter row spacing × root system depth ×
wetted area percentage = 10,000 m × 60% × 1.00 m = 6000 m3
Easily available water soil capacity = resrvoir volume × available water (%)×
Allowed deplition (%) = 6000 m3 × 17% × 60% = 612 m3/ha. = 61.2 mm
Max interval between irrigations = easily available water soil capacity / daily
demand = 61.2 mm / 7 mm/day = 8.75 days
For sake of convenience, the interval will be 7 days and not the allowable
maximum.
Irrigation dose: 7 mm/day × 7 days = 49 mm.
Minimum acceptable application rate: 49 mm/20hours of water supply = 2.45
mm/hour.
Minimum emitter flow rate in 4×6 m spacing: 2.45 mm/(4×6)m = 102 l/h
Choice of emitter
The chosen emitter is non-regulated (non-compensating) jet+ with nominal flow
rate of 102 l/h in 20 m head.
Table 13.20. Allowed length of laterals

112
Table 13.21. BASIC DATA
Parameter Unit Amount Nominal flow rate
Micro-jet piece 1 102 l/hour
Lateral m 40
Emitters distance on lateral m 4
Emitters per lateral piece 40/4 = 10 102 l/h × 10 = 1.020 l/h
Number of laterals per block piece 60 61.2 m3
No. of blocks in the plot unit 8 489.6 m3/h
Irrigation cycle day 7
Days of irrigation in a cycle day 4
Flow rate per a single day .m3/h 489.6 / 4 = 122.4 m3/h
The chosen lateral is the 20/4 mm (20/17 mm OD/ID). It allows for 11 emitters
on the lateral, in the range of pressure difference of 7.5% in 1% ascending
slope.

113
Fig. 13.12. Micro-jet irrigation system in citrus grove

114
Table 13.22. Head-loss calculation
Segment Flow Length N.D./PN H f Outlets F- Hf - Hz - Total Cumulative
rate -m -% factor m m
mm/class ∆H- ∆H - m
m3/h
m
EF 1.02 40 20/4 13 10 0.35 1.8 0.5 2.3 2.3
DE 24 72 75/4 4 12 0.35 1.0 1.0 2.0 4.3
DG 36 108 75/4 8 18 0.35 3.0 -1.0 2.0
BD 60 148 PVC 110/6 3.0 0 1.0 4.4 1.0 4.4 8.7
KL 1.02 40 20/4 13 10 0.35 1.8 0.5 2.3 2.3
IK 24 72 75/4 4 12 0.35 1.0 0 1.0 3.3
MN 1.02 40 20/4 13 10 0.35 1.8 0.5 2.3
IM 36 108 75/4 8 18 0.35 3.0 -0.5 2.5
BI 60 388 PVC 110/6 3.0 0 1.0 11.6 -2.0 9.6 15.2

RS 1.02 40 20/4 13 10 0.35 1.8 0.5 2.3 2.3


OR 24 72 75/4 4 12 0.35 1.0 1.0 2.0 4.3
PQ 1.02 40 20/4 13 10 0.35 1.8 0.5 2.3
OP 36 108 75/4 8 18 0.35 3.0 -1.0 2.0
BO 60 228 PVC 110/6 3.0 0 1.0 6.8 0.5 7.3 11.6
UV 1.02 40 20/4 13 10 0.35 1.8 0.5 2.3 2.3
TU 24 72 75/4 4 12 0.35 1.0 1.0 2.0 4.3
WY 1.02 40 20/4 13 10 0.35 1.8 0.5 2.3
TW 36 108 75/4 8 18 0.35 3.0 -1.0 2.0
BT 60 308 PVC 110/6 3.0 0 1.0 9.2 -05 8.7 13.0
Table 13.23. Total requested dynamic head
Pressure requested in lateral distal end 20 m
Head loss in lateral 1.8 m
Topographic difference 2m
Maximum friction head losses 14.1 m
Control head losses 8m
Total 45.9 m

Comments
a. The requested dynamic head relates to the most critical water
delivery point.

115
b. The head losses could be decreased by 6 m head by choosing
submains of larger diameter – 140/6 mm. But since the water
velocity in 110/6 mm pipes is lower than 2 m/sec it is doubtful if the
increased pipe diameter is economically sensible. That depends on
the cost of energy and has to be considered in respect to local
circumstances.
c. For sake of minimum head losses, two blocks will be irrigated per
day:
Day 1: blocks a + e
Day 2: blocks b + f
Day 3: blocks c + g
Day 4: blocks d + h

116
14. MAINTENANCE OF MICRO IRRIGATION SYSTEMS
14.1. General
The best system design cannot compensate for inadequate system maintenance.
Micro irrigation systems in particular, require careful and strict maintenance. The
narrow water passageways in the emitters, the widespread use of thin-wall laterals,
the sensitivity of the filtration and fertigation devices, the buried underground emitters
as well as the complexity of the monitoring and control appliances, require
commitment to a meticulous maintenance policy.
Maintenance actually begins with system installation. Improper installation will cause
trouble throughout the system life span.
14.2. Critical Issues in Installation
14.2.1. PVC Pipes
PVC pipes are prone to be damaged by sharp edges of stones or when exposed to
expansion and contraction of heavy and compacted soils. Therefore, before laying
PVC pipes in a trench, it should be padded with sand. Right angles in the pipeline
must be supported by concrete casting to prevent disintegration of the pipeline.
14.2.2. Laterals
When connecting laterals to manifolds, the barbed protrusion of the initial connector
has to be fully inserted into the lateral to prevent the connectors from popping out in
pressure surges.

Fig. 14.1. Punch (left) and holder (right) Courtesy "Netafim"


Laterals laid from reels, have to be positioned leveled on the ground for several
hours before they are connected and stabilized. The delay is necessary to
accommodate the lateral and release twisting formed in the reel package.

117
Precise punching of holes in the lateral for insertion of on-line drippers and feeder
tubes of micro-jets and micro-sprinklers, requires dedicated tools, as shown in fig.
14.1.
Before initializing the system, laterals, manifolds and pipelines have to be thoroughly
flushed, to wash out all debris and soil particles that penetrated into the system
during installation work.
In plots prone to woodpecker activity, subsurface drip irrigation is the preferred
alternative; otherwise, woodpecker drippers can be installed.
14.3. Routine Inspection
Routine inspections and preventive measures are necessary to guarantee
appropriate performance of the micro irrigation system. The best maintenance policy
is to inspect the whole system periodically and systematically. Time intervals
between inspections depend on water quality and the attributes of the system
components. Inspections can be performed weekly, monthly, or twice a year in
favorable conditions.
14.3.1. Pump Inspection
In self-pumping installations, pump efficiency has to be tested once in 5 years. When
water contains sand particles and/or the water is corrosive, the test should be
performed bi-annually. Pump efficiency below 75% is economically undesirable in
contemporary high energy costs. Low efficiency may indicate the deterioration of
pump components that if are not repaired or replaced promptly, may terminate
pumping.
14.3.2. System Performance
Comparing the system’s designed discharge to the actual flow rate provides
preliminary indication of system performance. Deviation up to ±10% is normal. A flow
rate that is significantly lower than the designed discharge may indicate partial
plugging of emitters or chocking of filters by dirt accumulation. A flow rate
significantly higher than the designed may indicate burst pipelines or punching of
pipes and laterals and water leakage. Deviation from the designed flow rate can also
indicate changes in the pressure regime.
The first step is to check the hourly flow rate at the main flow meter and compare it
with the designed flow rate (number of emitters multiplied by the emitter’s
nominal flow rate).
Second step - the pressure gauges that are installed in the plot have to be checked.
The measured values have to be compared to the designed pressure for each set.
The pressure difference between inlet and outlet and dirt accumulation in filters have
to be checked as well.
When low flow rate is noticed in an appropriate pressure regime, on-farm inspection
of emitter flow rate uniformity should be performed. The minimum number of emitters
per sample is 20. The recommended number is 40-50. Once measured, the EU can
be calculated and if it is unacceptable, the emitters should be cleaned with acid,
flushed with pressurized air or replaced. The system should be checked again after
treatment.

118
Visual indicators of inadequate system performance are random stressed plants,
surface runoff, “surfacing” in SDI and white salt spots on the soil surface.
14.4 Routine Maintenance
14.4.1. System Flushing and Cleaning
During irrigation, dirt, chemical
precipitates and organic matter
accumulate in the irrigation system.
Most of the dirt accumulates in the
distal ends of laterals, manifolds and
pipelines. Before the first irrigation in
the season, the system has to be
flushed thoroughly. For proper dirt
removal, flushing of laterals has to be
sequential, one after another, to keep
the appropriate pressure needed for Fig. 14.2. Automatic lateral end flushing valve
adequate flow velocity in the open distal Courtesy "Netafim"
end. The lateral end stopper is released and the dirty water is allowed to exit until
clean water appears.
Lateral flushing can be accomplished automatically by automatic flushing valves. In
this case, flushing takes place in the initiation of the irrigation between water opening
and the build-up of the operating pressure inside the lateral. Flushing velocities
should be at least 0.5 to 0.6 m/s in order to remove effectively the dirt from the
laterals.
Flushing has to be performed several times per season. Intervals between flushing
events depend on the rate of dirt accumulation.
14.4.2. Cleaning of Plugged Drippers
When routine flushing is not sufficient to guarantee uniform emission, more drastic
measures are required.
Flushing with acid solution can dissolve lime and gypsum precipitates. Sulfuric,
hydrochloric, phosphoric and nitric acids are used. The latter is the most potent agent
but the most unsafe to use. Acids necessitate strict cautionary measures. In the case
of unsuccessful acid treatment, the system can be flushed with high-pressure
compressed air. Immersing the reels of retrieved laterals in an acidic solution for a
few hours yields better results than flushing in the field. Sometimes, pressing the
dripper carefully in a dry state can shatter the solid precipitates and enable them to
be flushed out of the lateral.
In certain compensating drippers, diaphragms lose their flexibility with time. Some
diaphragms are sensitive to high concentrations of oxidizing agents like chlorine and
bromine compounds.
14.4.3. Maintenance of Micro-jets and Micro-sprinklers
In distinction from drippers, malfunction of micro-jets and micro-sprinklers is easily
noticed. The visual indications are changes in distribution patterns, an altered
rotation rate in rotating emitters, stuck immobilized rotating and vibrating emitters and
slanted stakes. Emitter-bearing stakes have to be positioned vertically. Stake
bending impairs water distribution and may enhance run-off and water losses.

119
Certain stakes are marked to indicate the depth of insertion required to stabilize the
emitter vertically and to ensure the emitter's right height above soil surface for
optimal water distribution.
14.4.4. Maintenance of Accessories
The working environment of an irrigation system can be
considered “hostile”. Chemical precipitations, friction-induced
wear, corrosion and mucous excretions by microorganisms
cooperate to hamper system performance. In the framework
of routine maintenance, the functioning level of discrete
components has to be checked routinely.
Flow meters have to be calibrated once in 2–5 years,
depending on the volume of water delivered and
concentration of solid contaminants in the water.
Most hydraulic valves have an internal diaphragm. The
integrity and flexibility of the diaphragm has to be routinely
inspected. If necessary, the diaphragm should be replaced.
Pressure regulators operation mechanism is based on spring
resistance or hydraulic equilibrium maintenance. Springs are
weakened after prolonged operation. They should be
inspected once in two years and replaced if necessary.
Vacuum-relief valves carry out an important function in drip
irrigation systems, particularly in sub-surface systems. When
the irrigation is turned-off, water remaining in the system flows
downhill to the lowest outlets. The water vacating the high
points creates a vacuum, which causes the emitters in this Fig 14.3 Vertical
section of the plot to suck in air and dirt. In extreme cases, stake
PVC mainlines and thin-wall laterals may collapse. Vacuum-
relief valves, installed at the high points in the system, are prone to clogging and
need periodic inspection to ensure that no solid objects are caught inside and that
they are not caught in an open or shut position. Air release valves also require the
same periodic examination.
The filtration system should be thoroughly inspected. In some filter types, the steel
body is coated with epoxy paint to protect it from corrosion. The epoxy paint should
be checked routinely. Cracks in the coating shorten the endurance of the entire body.
The collectors of sand separators, should be purged periodically, otherwise excess
accumulated sand will lower separation efficiency.
Screen filters should be opened and screens visually inspected for wear, tear and
blockage by organic matter, silt and chemical precipitates. The same applies to disk
filters.
Manually cleaned filters will be serviced when the pressure difference between the
inlet and outlet exceeds 5 m.
Automatic back-flushing filter systems require periodic visual inspection of the
filtering elements against wear and presence of persistent contaminates. Back-
flushing filter components: control hydraulic valves, solenoids and rotating brushes or
vacuum suckers, may require periodic servicing and lubrication. Most of them include

120
a small water filter to prevent blockage of solenoid ports and valve control chambers.
This filter needs frequent manual cleaning.
Automatic back-flushing media filters require special attention. They fluidize and
resettle the filtering media with every flushing cycle. The discharge of back flushed
media filters should be within the specified range of each model. For a typical 48"
diameter tank, the range is 70 - 95 m3/h, higher than the filtering capacity of 50 – 70
m3. Below the lower margin, contaminants tend to infiltrate deeper into the media
bed. Flow rates higher than the recommended upper threshold can lead to coning
and canalization of the filtering media.
To effectively back-flush a filter, an adequate flow rate is critical particularly for sand
filtering media. It should be large enough to fluidize and lift the filtering media, while
pushing out just only a minor amount of sand through the flushing discharge
manifold.
Media filters must be routinely inspected to check the height of the filtering media in
the tank. During the back-flushing process, a portion of the media is drained-off.
When the void tank volume is greater than ⅓ of the total volume, the missing media
should be replenished.
14.4.5. Maintenance of Fertigation systems
14.4.5.1. Evaluating System Performance
Excessive fertilization can induce salinity damage as well as antagonistic interference
between nutrition elements. The precision of nutrient application can be checked in
four procedures:
a. Collecting water samples from the dripper laterals downstream from the
injection point, and comparing the sample analysis with the desired
concentration.
b. Analyzing an extracted soil solution.
c. Analyzing the nutrient content of soil samples.
d. In detached beds it is common to collect drainage samples and compare
them with samples of water collected from emitters. If the nutrient
concentration of the drainage samples is significantly lower than the
dripper’s emitted solution, the rate of the injected nutrients should be
increased. The likelihood of leaching nutrients by excess water should also
be examined. If nutrient level in drainage is higher than in the dripper
emission, there may be excess nutrient injection or deficit in water
application.
14.4.5.2. Maintenance of Chemical Injection Devices
The fertigation equipment is exposed to corrosive nutrient solutions. Metallic
components like epoxy coated fertilizer tanks, injection pump components, controlling
valves and pressure gauges corrode and should be replaced frequently. Some
injection pumps have to be lubricated periodically. In diaphragm fertilizer pumps the
diaphragm should be inspected for integrity and flexibility. Inflexible diaphragms will
not perform perfectly.

121
14.5. Chemical Water Treatments
Chemical water treatments keep the system clean and running. They can be applied
as a preventive measure or as a corrective treatment after the clogging occurred.
The treatments can be classified into three groups:
a. Acidification
b. Oxidation
c. Sterilization
14.5.1. Acidification
Acidification lowers water pH. This eliminates precipitation of insoluble salts of the
cations calcium, magnesium, Iron and manganese with the anions bi-carbonate,
carbonate, sulfate and phosphate. In low pH levels, the solubility of these salts is
relatively high and the rate of precipitation is reduced significantly. The required
concentration of the acid in irrigation water for attaining satisfactory results depends
on the levels of bi-carbonates and sulfates in the water. The customary range is 0.5%
- 1.5% in continuous acidification.
14.5.2. Oxidation
The dominating oxidizing agents are diverse chlorine compounds. Oxidation is
implemented for decomposing of sustained organic matter and preventing
development of algae and colonies of microorganisms as persistent clogging factors.
In water containing organic matter, iron, sulfur and manganese bacteria, routine
oxidation with chlorine is obligatory. Chlorination can be accomplished continuously
with 2 – 5 ppm of active chlorine in the water or intermittently as “shock treatment”
when the build-up of slime in the system is accelerated. “Shock treatment” with 15 –
30 ppm chlorine is applied for 20 – 30 minutes. An upper threshold of 15 ppm is
suggested to prevent damage to diaphragms in certain compensating emitters and
hydraulic valves. A fast on-farm test indicates if the applied chlorine amount was
sufficient. If the measured residual chlorine level in the distal ends of the laterals is
above 0.5 – 1 ppm, sufficient chlorine had been applied.
Copper sulfate is another oxidizing agent, particularly efficient in suppressing algae
development in surface water reservoirs.
14.5.3. Sterilization
Sterilization is a specific treatment customary in sub-surface drip irrigation systems
for eliminating root intrusion into the drippers. This is done by applying the chemical
Trifluralin (TreflanTM). Treflan movement in the soil is negligible and restricts
sterilization to the immediate vicinity of the dripper, thus preventing damage to the
root system of the grown crop.
The customary application regime is 2 – 4 applications per season. The frequent
applications are given in coarse textured soils. The recommended amount per
application is 125 mg per dripper. Injection time is 30 – 90 minutes, depending on
lateral length. Use of Treflan impregnated drippers or filters can substitute its
injection into the drip system.

122
15. NOMOGRAMS FOR ESTIMATION OF HEAD LOSSES IN
PIPES AND ACCESSORIES

Fig. 15.1. Nomogram for calculation of head losses in water flow in pipes

123
Fig. 15.2 Nomogram for calculation of head losses in LDPE pipes. Class designation relates to the
working pressure (PN) in bar. 1 bar = 10 m Adapted from "Plassim" brochure

124
Fig. 15.3 Nomogram for calculation of head losses in HDPE pipes. The class designation relates
to the working pressure (PN) in bar. 1 bar = 10 m. Adapted from "plassim" brochure

125
Fig. 15.4 Nomogram for calculation of head losses in PVC pipes. The class designation relates to
the working pressure (PN) in bar. 1 bar = 10 m. Adapted from "Plastro" brochure

126
Fig. 15.5. Nomogram for calculation of local head losses in valves and other accessories and
fittings

127
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17. GLOSSARY
Acidification: Increasing the acidity of a solution (including soil solution) by addition of hydrogen ions
(by acids or acidic agents).
Air Gap: A backflow preventing technique of physical separation or maintaining air gap between two
piping systems or hydraulic devices.
Allowable Depletion: The percentage from Plant Available Water (PAW) that can be depleted from the
active plant root zone before irreversible damage is brought about to the plant.
Anti-Siphon Valve: A control valve with a built-in atmospheric vacuum breaker.
Atmospheric Vacuum Breaker: A backflow prevention device that introduces air into the irrigation
system when the system pressure drops to atmospheric pressure or below, to prevent back siphonage.
Back Pressure: Increase of pressure downstream above the pressure at the upstream side of the
connection with the supply network that would cause a reversal of the flow direction.
Back Siphonage: Reversal of water flow due to pressure reduction upstream, which generates a
negative pressure below the downstream pressure in the system.
Backflow: Reverse flow of water in a piping system.
Backflush: reverse water flow through a filter, ion exchange column, or membrane intended to remove
clogging particles.
Booster Pump: A pump installed in the mainline inlet for increasing the pressure in the irrigation system
when the pressure in the supply system is not high enough.
Bulk Density: Mass per unit volume of undisturbed soil, dried to constant weight at 105 degrees C0
expressed as g/ml.
Capillarity: Moisture movement in the soil in any direction through the fine pore spaces and as films
around particles. The water is drawn into small diameter virtual tubes by the adhesive forces between
the liquid and the tube walls.
Chemigation: Application of chemicals like fertilizers, disinfectants, oxidizers, acidifiers, soil
amendment agents and pesticides through the irrigation system.
Coefficient of Uniformity (Cu): A measure of the uniformity of water distribution in a defined surface
area, from emitters that deliver water through the atmosphere expressed as percentage. The CU is a
comparison of the average precipitation of all catchment vessels and the deviation from that average.
Crop Coefficient (Kc): The decimal fraction designating the ratio between a specific crop water
requirement and the reference evapo-transpiration Et0.
Deep Percolation: The vertical movement of water caused by gravity downward through the soil profile,
below the root zone.
Design Emission Uniformity: The anticipated emission uniformity relating to the emitter’s Cv and the
expected pressure variation.
Design Pressure: The minimum pressure required for proper operation of an irrigation system.
Diameter of Coverage: Average diameter of the area wetted by emitter spreading water through the
atmosphere in wind-less conditions.
Diaphragms: Flexible membranes in automatic valves, fertilizer injectors and compensating emitters
that regulates the passage of water through the device.

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Double Check Valve (DCV): A device containing two independent, inline, positive seating, spring
loaded check valves, two shut-off valves and ball valve test cocks.
Drought: A period of dryness and insufficient soil moisture that causes extensive damage to crops and
prevents their successful growth.
Effective Rainfall: The amount of rain that is stored in the root zone.
Electrical Conductivity: an indicator to the concentration of soluble salts in the soil solution.
Elevation Gain: Pressure gained as water flows downhill from its source or a reference point.
Encrustation (Soil Surface Sealing): The phenomenon in which the surface of a soil is compacted,
dispersed and rearranged by the impact of raindrops. Although the surface seal is only few mm thick it
dramatically reduces the infiltration rate of water.
Erosion: The removal of soil particles from soil surface by weathering, running water, moving ice, wind
and mass movement.
Evapo-Transpiration (ET): The sum of the water amount lost through the evaporation of moisture from
the soil and plant surface and the transpiration of water from the plant.
Field Capacity: The percentage, per weight or per volume of the water retained in the soil after
irrigation or rain when the rate of downward movement has substantially decreased, usually one to three
days after irrigation or rain.
Flush Flow: High initial momentary flow through a drip lateral required to flush the lateral and emitters
before the working pressure is built-up.
Hydraulic Conductivity: The rate at which water will move through soil in response to potential
gradient.
Infiltration (Intake) Rate: The dynamic rate at which irrigation or rain water applied to the soil surface
will move into soil depth. The rate declines proportionally to the square root of time elapsed from the
initial phase of surface hydration.
Interception: The pattern and amount of precipitation that does not reach the soil surface due to
blocking by the vegetation.
Kilowatt-hour (KWh): A unit of electric power equivalent to the energy released by one thousand watts
acting for one hour.
Laminar Flow: Fluid flow that is characterized by straight flow lines in constant direction. In pipes it can
be regarded as a series of liquid cylinders in the pipe, where the innermost ones are the
fastest, and those near the pipe wall are the slowest. Mostly happens in low flow velocities.
Leaching Requirement: the quantity of irrigation water required for removal of salts from the root zone
to maintain a favorable salt balance for plant development.
Maximum Allowed Depletion (MAD): The fraction of plant available water (PAW) that may be
depleted from the active plant root zone without stress to the plant.
Microclimate: Climate conditions in limited area that differ from the typical climate prevalent in the
surrounding area.
Micro-Sprayers: Inclusive designation of micro-jets, spinners, rotators, ray-jets, misters and foggers.
Micro-Sprinklers: Miniature sprinklers discharging water in flow rate range of 20 – 200 l/hour.
Mini-Sprinklers: Small sprinklers discharging water in flow rate range of 120 – 500 l/hour

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Mulch: 1. Organic material applied to the soil surface to protect soil from raindrop impact, improve
infiltration of rain, reduce runoff, evaporation from soil surface and soil temperature fluctuations.
2. Plastic sheets used to cover the soil surface for isolating the crop from the soil surface or to facilitate
efficient soil fumigation under the sheets.
Neutron Probe: An instrument used to estimate soil moisture by measuring the rate of attenuation in
pulsated neutron emissions that depends on soil water content.
Normally Closed Valve: An automatic valve through which no water will flow unless external actuation
is applied that trigger the valve to open. Most electric valves are of the normally closed type.
Normally Open Valve: An automatic valve through which water will flow unless external actuation is
applied to close the valve. Most hydraulic valves are of the normally open type.
Orifice: Discharge hole in an emitter or lateral.
Ozonation: The process of applying ozone (O3) to a liquid for disinfection purpose.
Pan Evaporation: Evaporative water losses from a standardized pan used to estimate crop evapo-
transpiration and assist in irrigation scheduling.
Percent Area Wetted: The area wetted by irrigation as a percentage of the total area in the plot.
Percolation Rate: The rate at which water moves through porous media, such as the soil.
Permanent Wilting Point (PWP): The amount of water in the root zone, as percentage of the soil
weight or volume at or below which the plant will permanently wilt without recovery.
Plant Available Water (PAW): The amount of water held within the root zone after gravitational
drainage has ceased, less the amount of water that adheres tightly to soil particles and defined as the
permanent wilting point.
Porosity: The percentage of the soil volume that is occupied by pore spaces.
Potable Water: Water from any source that has been approved for human consumption, domestic or
drinkable water by the authorized health agency.
Pressure Relief Valve: A valve that will be opened when its inlet pressure exceeds a preset value.
Pressure Vacuum Breaker (PVB): A backflow prevention device that introduces air into the system to
prevent back siphonage. employs a spring loaded seat for positive opening to atmosphere.
PSI: A pressure unit in the imperial unit system, Abbreviation for pounds per square inch.
Pump Curve: A graphic representation of the performance of a pump correlating the rate of flow against
the total head. The efficiency of the pump can be obtainable at selected points along the curve.
Reduced Pressure Backflow Preventer (RPBP): A device consisting of two positive seating check
valves, and an automatically operating pressure differential relief valve located between the two check
valves. It is installed between two shut-off valves. RPBP protects from backflow caused by both
backpressure and back siphonage.
Reducer: A fitting used to change from certain pipe diameter to a smaller one.
Reference Evapo-Transpiration (Et0) of Low Crops: Represents the rate of evapo-transpiration from
an extensive surface of cool-season grass cover of uniform height of 12 cm, actively growing,
completely shading the ground, and not short of water.
Reference Evapo-Transpiration (Etr) of Medium Height Crops: represents the rate of evapo-
transpiration from an extensive surface of alfalfa or similar agricultural crop of uniform height of
approximately 50 cm, actively growing, completely shading the ground, and not short of water. On the
average ETr is 10% - 30% greater than ETo.

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Regulated Deficit Irrigation (RDI): Irrigation management strategy where the plant root zone is not
filled with water to field capacity level or the plant water requirement is not fully met.
Residual Chlorine: The total amount of chlorine remaining in water, sewage, or industrial wastes at the
end of a specified contact period following chlorination; expressed in ppm units.
Runoff: The flow of water over the soil surface when rainfall (or irrigation) rate exceeds the infiltration
rate of the soil. Runoff can detach and remove soil particles and thus cause erosion.
Runtime: Length of time available to operate an irrigation system or an individual zone for a single
irrigation event.
Saturated Flow: The movement of water in saturated soil (when all the pores are filled with water).
Snaking: Laying of loosened laterals to allow temperature induced contraction and elongation.
Soil Auger: A metallic device used for drilling into the soil and removing soil samples for analysis.
Soil Probe: A soil-coring tool that allows an intact soil core to be removed from the soil profile for
examination.
Soil Profile: A cross-section of the whole depth of the soil at a specific site, exposed by digging a soil
pit.
Solenoid Valve: An automatic valve actuated by electrical signals operates under low voltage (24v AC)
which may be remotely actuated and controlled via a cable or wireless from the central controller.
Solvent Welding: The act of chemically fusing pipe and fittings together using solvent and cement.
Spaghetti Tubing: Small tubing used in drip and trickle systems to carry water from the lateral to the
emitter and from the emitter to a specific plant.
Substrate: A mineral or organic material that provides anchoring medium and reservoir of water and
nutrients for the plants.
Sub-Irrigation: applying irrigation water below the soil surface (or the growing bed) either by raising the
water table into the root zone or by use of buried perforated or emitter bearing laterals.
Surface Tension: The force acting on molecules at the surface of a liquid resulting from the attraction of
the liquid molecules to each other.
Surge: An energy wave in pipelines caused by abrupt opening or closing of valves.
Throttle: A restriction of the cross-section of water passage in valves, pipes and other water
passageways.
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) - A measure (in mg/l units) of the mineral salts that will be deposited
after the water had completely evaporated.
Total Dynamic Head (TDH): The sum of operation head, friction head and elevation head. The total
energy that a pump must incorporate in the water to guarantee optimal function of the irrigation system.
Total Suspended Solids (TSS): A measure of all suspended solids in a liquid, not including the
dissolved salts, expressed in mg/l.
Trajectory: The angle, relating to soil surface, of the water spattered out into the air from the emitter's
nozzle.
Transitional (Semi Turbulent) Flow: A mix of laminar and turbulent flow, with turbulence in the center
of the pipe, and laminar flow near the walls. Each of these flows behaves in different manners in terms
of their frictional energy loss while flowing.

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Turbulent Flow: Flow pattern in which vortices, eddies and wakes make the flow unpredictable. The
flow regime is characterized by random direction changes as well as rapid variation of pressure and
velocity in space and time. Turbulent flow happens in general at high flow velocities and causes higher
friction head losses than the same flow rate in laminar flow.
U.P.V.C. Pipe: Unplasticized Polyvinyl Chloride pipe. Has better endurance and flexibility than ordinary
PVC pipes.
Water Hammer: The surging of pressure that occurs when a valve is suddenly closed or by high
velocity of water flow. The surging may cause the pipes to vibrate or to burst in extreme circumstances.
Water Use Efficiency (WUE): The amount of dry vegetal matter produced per unit of applied water.
Expressed as g/m3 (grams of dry matter per m3 of applied water).
Watering Window: The span of hours and days of the week that water is available for irrigation.

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