DIY GARDEN MICRO IRRIGATION
Regardless of whether you're growing a prize-winning garden or just trying to keep a few flowerbeds looking good, you know how tedious garden watering is, hauling hoses around the garden and then having to move it around multiple times. Not only does this cause major wastage of water, but the water also is not reaching the most essential part of the plant – the roots! Micro-irrigation is the latest solution for water-conscious gardeners like you!
The essence of this system is that it is a network of plastic tubing and low-volume drippers and sprinklers that reach every part of the garden you want to water.
Drip irrigation is one form of micro-irrigation. A dripper system entails having a pipe which channels the water through either internal or external dripper. The dripper regulates the flow of water to a slow drip, directly onto the soil, of between 1.5 and 24 litres per hour, depending on the dripper selected. Drip pipe is available in a range of shapes and sizes depending on the specific requirements of the end-user, even though the basic concept would remain the same.
More advantages of drip irrigation include that it is corrosion-resistant, allowing the use of chemicals, fertilisers and herbicides. Also, the irrigation system has reliable performance that requires very little or no maintenance, although it is important to note that an inline filter will be required to filter unclean water.
Micro-irrigation will also save you more than just your time and energy; it saves water by distributing it more efficiently. With the micro-irrigation setup, you will have much more control over where the water goes and how much is supplied to each plant. Instead of flooding the ground all at once, micro-irrigation lets you apply a small amount over longer periods, allowing the water to soak into the plants’ root zone for maximum benefit. And since runoff and evaporation are kept to a minimum, micro-irrigation uses less water.
Here are simple steps to follow to get your micro irrigation system up and irrigating:
Step 1: Plan out the system
To start off, you will have to draw up your garden to scale and decide where you want to install the micro irrigation system, keeping in mind the distance or radius that the micro-sprayer sprays the water, the proper spacing will eliminate the chance of dry spots or even overwatering. This also involves deciding how much water you want to allow to each different area of the garden. After drawing up these plans, you will have to calculate how many metres of piping is required and the size, also the number of heads/outlets which will be needed.
Agrinet exclusively distributes the Rain-Jet range of products that are required for micro-irrigation. For home gardens, Rain-Jet offers a Starter Kit that has all products in that is necessary to start a micro-irrigation system at your home. This Starter kit can cover an area of 75m², ideal for an urban vegetable garden.
The piping used for micro-irrigation and dripping is typically also a category on its own as its diameter is much smaller - around 8mm.
This flexible micro pipe is available to place in your garden to irrigate the ground through micro-irrigation. The size of the pipe will also determine the flow rate of the water. Various sizes are available to suit your need.
There is also drip irrigation piping which already has integrated drippers. This will save you time and effort of having to make the drip holes and manually installing drippers. However, it will not offer such freedom to choose the flow rate.
Step 2: Laying the pipes
Now having purchased your piping from Agrinet, you are ready to lay the pipes in your flowerbeds. The piping will have to be placed where the plants that need irrigation are. The flexibility of the piping will allow you to snake it throughout the garden.
To connect different piping, you will be able to use connectors such as T and L connectors, for garden irrigation, “full flow” fittings are recommended. If your pipes are above ground, it is recommended that you use ground stakes to secure the connectors and piping in the garden and prevent them from moving around. If you choose to place the pipes below the ground, stakes will not be necessary.
Step 3: Connect to water supply
The piping will have to be connected to a water supply. If you are connecting to the tap in the garden, it is recommended that you use a Y-connector. This will allow you to use the tap for both drip irrigation and anything else. A Y-connector splits the garden tap to be used simultaneously for two different uses, each outlet has its own valve so that only one or both can be opened.
Coupling fitted to a garden tap. Can be used to share two garden hoses or use them together at the same time.
A pressure regulator will also have to be installed at the garden tap as a lower pressure of approximately 1.5 bar is required for micro-irrigation. The pressure will also have to be constant for the best flow throughout your garden.
Step 4: Installing the drippers and sprayers
Once the piping has been laid, you will have to determine where to place the drippers and sprayers based on the irrigation needs of the various plants in your garden. There are different sizes of drippers, sprayers, and misters which help to regulate water flow.
These will be installed into the micro-irrigation piping. Before installing these you will have to decide where in the piping to make the drip holes, to get the right hole-size in the pipe, a micro-punch must be used. This decision will be based on the amount of water you want to be distributed, the closer together the emitters are, the more water will be applied to the soil.
This hole punch can be used to make the perfect sized holes in your micro piping. It punches a 4mm hole.
This dripper will help to regulate the flow of water to your garden. Various flow rates are available to be able to serve every need. Pressure compensated drippers can be used on uneven or elevated terrain in order to maintain a consistent flow through all the drippers in the line.
Typically, a sprayer offers a larger volume of water than micro irrigation or dripping, about 40 litres and hour but spread over a larger area when compared to a button dripper. This might be necessary in parts of a garden which are more densely grown or for plants which require more water. There are once again various types of sprayers of which each can be used for a different purpose.
The micro sprayers allow for a lower pressure and flow rate when compared to conventional garden irrigation methods. These Rain-Jet products are a part of the micro irrigation starter kit which is exclusively available from Agrinet. The micro sprayers are useful in gardens to provide a low volume of water preventing water wastage and effectively applying water to the intended area.
Optional: Installing a timer
To make your garden even less time consuming, you can install a timer to turn on the water for a designated amount of time. This will also help to ensure that no water is wasted, as it will also automatically turn off the water. A timer will open and close the irrigation system according to a pre-programmed schedule, increasing the effectiveness of the irrigation system.
For more information, please check out our comprehensive Drip Irrigation Range.
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