Helpful tips and tricks with Agricultural Irrigation

Farm Irrigation Systems: Top 3 Questions

Flip Law - Thursday, March 22, 2012

Farm irrigation systems play an important role in bringing the farmer’s crops to your table.

farm irrigation systemFarmers can’t always rely on the rain to bring water to their crops. It is too unpredictable for them to rely on. Therefore they need to install irrigation systems to ensure healthy and plentiful crops. There are many different types of irrigation that farmers use.

Here are the top three questions people ask about farm irrigation systems.
  1. What is the difference between drip irrigation and micro sprinkler irrigation? Both systems are considered low volume and low pressure systems. Drip irrigation supplies water to the crop at or near the root zone through the use of emitters. Water “drips” from these emitters at a very low rate, typically 1, or 2 gallons per hour. Micro sprinkler irrigation also applies water near the root zone by using small stake mounted sprinklers or jets. These micro-sprinklers apply water with a small spray or fan shaped pattern, usually at a rate of 10-15 gallons per hour. The spray pattern covers a larger area than drip emitters and is usually used to irrigate fruit trees such as peaches and citrus. Because these micro sprinklers are located beneath the tree canopy and are located only a few inches above the ground they offer many of the same benefits as drip irrigation (less evaporation, less runoff, higher efficiency, etc.).
  2. Why do farmers turn sprinklers on during frost warnings? Many early spring fruit crops such as strawberries require some type of frost protection system. Many farmers utilize an overhead sprinkler frost protection system. Sprinkler frost protection systems work because of the thermodynamic properties of water. When water changes from a liquid to a frozen state it loses heat (latent heat of fusion). The heat that the water loses keeps the plant tissue just above freezing. Farmers must continually run the sprinkler system during freezing temperatures because water must be constantly changing from a liquid to a frozen state. For this reason farmers will turn on the frost protection system before the air temperature drops below freezing and will run their system continually until the air temperature is well above freezing.
  3. How do you determine what type of irrigation to use? The type of irrigation system used usually depends on the crops you are growing. Vegetable or other truck crops usually use drip irrigation. Peaches and other tree-fruit crops are also well suited for drip irrigation and/or micro sprinklers but many growers also use overhead sprinklers such as “big guns” and traveling guns. Row crops typically use center pivot systems or traveling guns.

To find the answer to all your farm irrigation systems questions contact WP Law today.
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