“…We hooked up the last of five drip lines here. So we’re standing around talking and it’s running, watering all the lines at once. So it allows you to move on to something else a little more productive.” Neal Reid.

Water can end up being a big expense for your operation. If you’re paying for water, using drip irrigation will help reduce your bill. It’s also one of the least expensive irrigation systems to setup, and can save you money in labor during the growing season.

Before setting up your irrigation system and preparing your beds, you will need to perform a few water quality assessment tests. The first will determine the quality of water used for irrigation purpose on the crops. The second is to determine the quality of water for use of chemical application or fertigation method. The third and final action is to take the necessary steps to protect irrigation water from potential direct and non-point source contamination.Once your test results are returned, keep them on hand for your inspection. Next, refer to your Standard Operating Procedure document 2.01 to determine the amount of added chlorine bleach you will need when it comes to the sanitation of crop spray water.

For larger scale farmers who use a bed layer, your drip line will be setup when laying down plastic. Step one complete! The second step is to close off the ends of each drip line by cutting off a small piece, then take the line and fold it several times over itself before sliding it into that cutoff piece.

Then, you will need to connect the trunk line to a water source and connect each drip line on your bed to this main trunk line. I recommend using connectors that have a cutoff so you can control the flow of water for each bed. It makes it a lot easier to connect each drip line when the water is running through the trunk line. This will make sure that you don’t puncture through both sides of the trunk line.

Drip irrigation is easy to install, will save you money and labor during the growing season and as Neal mentions at the end of our corresponding video, it will allow you to move on to something more productive.

When setting up drip lines on your field, it’s also important to think about design. Depending on how long your rows are going to be, you may want the trunk line in the middle of your field, watering equally for both sides of your rows instead of having it travel the entire length of the row.

In next week’s blog and video, we will join David Lay in Hawkins County Tennessee to see how to lay down black plastic. David uses a Rain-Flo Plastic Bed Layer that also lays down the drip line.

Derrick Von Kundra