Monitoring your drip irrigation system is essential to ensure safe and long-lasting operation, avoiding what may be accidental obstacles. Regular maintenance of the drip irrigation system becomes an important step to take, even several times during the year, to prevent the brake, the clogging and the filling with unwanted substances such as bacteria and algae.
What are the steps to take into account?
- Check the system
The first step in the cleaning and maintenance of a drip irrigation system is to perform a visual inspection. It is therefore necessary to examine the system carefully and make sure that nothing is out of place or overused. Overused pipes may leak into areas where you don’t want them to, causing a large waste of water.
- Pipe lines
To identify any existing cracks or leaks, simply pass your hand along the pipe. If a leak/crack is found, that specific section of pipe can be repaired or replaced. This decision will ultimately depend on the size of the leak, the particular configuration and personal preferences. It must keep in mind that even the smallest leak can cause a great waste of water over time if left untreated.
During the inspection, it may emerge that the hoses are obstructed/damaged by algae and bacteria. Fortunately, there are bacteria and algae control agents that can be added to the system, which will help eliminate this problem. A daily chlorine rinse is another good option.
Alternatively, an automatic valve can be added to the drip tapes that eliminates the entire system at the end of each irrigation cycle and reduces the amount of mug collected inside.
It is necessary to check the filter of the irrigation system, and clean it if needed. Speaking about filters, if your filters are clogged and difficult to clean, it may be time to invest in disc filters. Disc filters are more effective at filtering water, more difficult to clog and can be washed.
Depending on the water supply (and on nutrients added to the irrigation water), the emitters in the irrigation system may be clogged with magnesium and calcium salts. Even emitters are only partially clogged, they can create problems providing, nutrients and water throughout the irrigation system in an irregular way.
Accumulation problems usually require a deeper cleaning, which is usually done at the end of the growing season.
A useful tip for cleaning the emitters is to immerge them in a vinegar-based solution.
- End of season washing of the system
At the end of each irrigation season, it is necessary to remove any occlusions from the system and to free it from the unwanted mineral substances accumulated that could compromise the proper functioning of the irrigation system. To rinse the lines can help eliminate the accumulation of unwanted material in them such as bacteria and residual calcium salts.
It is necessary to respect a pre-set sequence of washings in order to avoid system damages. Partial washing cannot allow the irrigation system to be maintained properly.
This phase is particularly important and delicate. Specific products must be used in order to prevent any disruption of the system in the following season.
- Keeping the plant healthy during the season: unblocking the laterals
In order to avoid accumulation in the drippers and to remove solid particles in suspension that can prevent the proper working of the drip irrigation system, it is necessary to clean out the laterals.
During the irrigation season the lateral lines should be clean out every 2-3 weeks.
To do this, simply open the end of the lateral line for 30-60 seconds until you see that the leaking water is clean.
In order to clean out the lateral lines of the irrigation system, drain valves can be used.
The drain valves are ideal for maintaining the drippers in perfect efficiency and for carrying out the periodic maintenance necessary for the irrigation system.
The valves automatically clean out the end of the irrigation lines at the beginning of each irrigation shift and they are particularly suitable in case of low-quality water or in case of sand suspensions in the water.