Irrigation Systems

Bennett Joffrion, Fletcher, Jr., Bobby H., Razi, Sam S.  |  10/20/2007 12:50:37 AM

Irrigation Systems

Irrigation Systems

You are probably familiar with sprinklers that are part of an automated system. In some landscapes, such as a lawn or annual flower bed, those kinds of sprinklers can be the best watering method. For other landscape areas, learn about water-conserving micro-irrigation systems.

  • Micro-irrigation systems deliver small volumes of water directly to the root zone through low-flow-rate emitters such as micro-spray jets, bubblers or drip tubes.

  • Although micro-irrigation equipment releases small amounts of water, it does not prevent overwatering. Nutrient leaching can occur if the system runs for excessively long time periods and waterlogs soil. Sandy soils permit water to distribute laterally to a limited degree only; this can also cause overwatering by micro-irrigation systems.

  • Drip or micro-spray fittings can clog and may require that you filter the water. Inspect fittings regularly and if necessary clean them. Insects and rodents can damage drip tape or tubing.

  • If you already have an irrigation system, your options for retrofitting to micro-irrigation may be limited. Sometimes low-pressure emitters, such as bubblers, can be adapted to existing sprinkler heads. This may require an attachment at the source to reduce water pressure.

Leaching: the downward movement of water (and any particles dissolved in it, such as nutrients or pollutants) through soil.

Calibrating Irrigation Systems

Follow these steps to determine how much water your irrigation system is applying:

  • Set several similar, flat-bottomed, straight-sided cans (all must be of equal size) in various places within one watering zone. Tuna cans work well for this.

  • Turn on sprinklers for 15 minutes.

  • Pour the water from all containers into one container. Measure the depth of the water to the nearest 1/8 inch.

  • Divide the measurement by the number of containers to determine the average amount of water applied in that zone in 15 minutes.

  • In the future, water the area only as long as it takes to apply ½ inch to ¾ inch of water.

Water-Wise Advice

Get practical advice on state-of-the-art irrigation systems from several sources:

  • If you are changing areas of your landscape from turf to trees or planted beds, consult with your parish’s LSU AgCenter Extension office or with the Natural Resources Conservation Service regarding watering options.

  • If you are in the market for a new irrigation system, find a reputable, certified irrigation contractor who has experience with these systems.
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