Juab County Extension News

Conserving Water By Using Drip Irrigation

 Conserving Water by Using Drip Irrigation

 
            During this time of year, irrigating home gardens is not a high priority for most gardeners. But as you look around at the local snow conditions or listen to state water forecasters, you will notice we are again headed for another drought year. Even though it is the middle of winter, home gardeners need to make long term plans for conserving water in their irrigation practices.
            People of all ages enjoy the benefits of gardening. These benefits range from producing high quality produce to working with the soil. Due to water demands and shortages, gardeners need to be concerned about water conservation. Garden irrigation methods have changed throughout the years. From the early days of flood irrigation to current underground drip irrigation, gardeners are continuing to look for more efficient methods.
 
Drip Irrigation
            Drip irrigation is a method which minimizes the use of water by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either onto the soil surface or directly onto the root zone. There are many advantages of using drip irrigation. These include: 
· Water savings, since only those areas directly around plant root zones are irrigated.
· Slow application rate prevents excess surface water build-up and reduces evaporation.
· Weed growth is reduced because areas between plants are not irrigated.
· System’s low flow rate allows irrigation of larger areas and more plants can be watered at once.
· The water application rate can be tailored to fit each individual plant.
These benefits are only possible when a drip irrigation system is properly designed, managed, and maintained.
 
Juab County Drip System   
            Home owners in Juab County designed a system to assist with water conservation. The system can be designed to meet the needs of the individual user. The system uses 1/2 inch to 1 inch PVC pipe, fittings, and ball valves. The cost of materials will depend on the size of pipe, valves, and fittings used. Depending on the care of the system, the life expectancy of the materials is between 10 and 12 years. The main distribution line is glued.  The laterals are not glued on either end.  End caps are used on the end of each lateral line to force the water through the irrigation drip holes. Manual valves are used to control the flow rate and assist in reducing pressure. This system can be used for vegetable and flower gardens, trees, shrubs, and other such areas.
 
Hole Size and Spacing
            Hole size is one of the keys to the success of the system. A 1/16 inch drill bit is used to drill the holes in the pipe. Drilling the holes can be done several different ways.  A person can use a drill press, a portable drill, or a corded drill to make the holes. Using some type of stand, such as several tables end to end, to place the pipe on when drilling the holes will make it more convenient. For plants such as corn, carrots, and peas, the holes are spaced every 6 inches. For plants such as watermelons, tomatoes, and pumpkins, the holes are spaced in groups of three, 3 inches apart and then 3 to 5 feet between each group. The spacing between each row will vary depending on the type of plants selected.
 
Nutrient Requirements
            One of the essential elements of a successful garden is being able to meet the nutrient requirements of the plants during the season. The first step to creating a fertile garden soil is to determine current nutrient needs. Soil testing information is available at the Extension office. There are different types of fertilizers available to the home gardener. There are also different methods of applying fertilizers. The best application results when using this system is achieved by using some type of injector. Injectors can use either dry or liquid water-soluble fertilizer. By using an injector with this drip system, a gardener can control the quantity of fertilizer applied to meet the nutrient requirements of the different plants.
 
Drip System Benefits
            By using this system, users will enjoy several benefits. Water savings: in different studies home owners noticed water savings of 75-80%. Time savings: in the same studies, the participants experienced a 75-80% time savings in watering and weeding the gardens.  Throughout the growing season, the study participants observed that the plants were healthier and produced at a higher level.
            Drip irrigation can help home gardeners enjoy the benefits of gardening. By using drip irrigation, gardeners will spend less time weeding and watering, will notice water savings and enjoy higher production. The Juab County Drip Irrigation System is designed to be simple to design and install, user friendly, and effective. Using a system like this can assist in water conservation and help add to the enjoyment of raising home gardens.
            For a complete copy of the 4 page fact sheet “Designing a Basic PVC Home Garden Drip Irrigation System” go to the Extension office or website at: extension.usu.edu/juab.

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