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Maintenance & Repair


Flushing Driplines for Better Uniformity & Longer System Life


By Inge Bisconer, CID, CLIA


Drip irrigation has been adopted on nearly 10 percent of the nation’s irrigated crops because of the numerous benefits this technology provides. However, without proper design and maintenance, the benefit of applying water and nutrients uniformly over space and time can quickly be compromised from emitter clogging, resulting in poor system uniformity.


Clogging may be avoided by installing appropriate filtration, which considers both the water source quality and the filtration requirement of the emission device. However, even the best of filters will still allow fine particles to accumulate in the driplines, and if not removed via proper routine flushing, both organic and inorganic contaminants may aggregate and pose a clogging threat.


Illustration 1 shows typical crop and system end-of-the-line scenarios including flushing submains and end-of-the-line


20 Irrigation TODAY | October 2016


flush valves. Note that adjustable block valves and/or block pressure regulators are preferred to single-line regulators, which typically can’t be adjusted to facilitate higher pressure flushing.


The following provides some tips on how to make sure the system is designed for flushing and how to optimize field flushing.


Design for Flushing


System designers, such as IA-certified irrigation designers, work hard to lay out the drip system and specify equipment that will provide optimum system emission uniformity. Good designers will also ensure that the driplines may be properly and safely flushed under design operating parameters. In other words, driplines must be flushed at a minimum velocity of 1 foot per second with available system flow and pressure, and the specified equipment must be rated to withstand the required flushing pressure. If the required flushing pressure exceeds the dripline’s pressure rating, the specification should be changed.


For example, illustrations 2 and 3 show a block design using Toro’s AquaFlow design software. The first block uses dripline with an internal diameter of 0.550 inches; the second block uses dripline with an ID


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