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Converting to drip: How easy it can be!

Converting a conventional spray system to drip can provide a quick return on investment in terms of dollars and drips. Plus, it is the responsible thing to do. There are a few important concepts you have to keep in mind when converting an existing irrigation system to a drip irrigation system. First, calculate the amount of water you will be using with your new system. You can do this by counting the number of emitters and multiply by the volume of water each is rated at. Convert this number into G.P.M. (Gallons Per Minute); most emitters are rated in G.P.H. (Gallons Per Hour) so divide the number you get above by sixty. For Example: number of emitter’s × flow rate ÷ 60. This will give you the flow of your drip system; now compare this value to the minimum flow your valve will function at. Remote control valves need a certain volume of water to seat themselves so check with the manufacturer. Now that you have checked your valve, select a filter that has the correct screen size for the drip emitters you will be using. It is common to find a pre assembled “Control Zone” that takes care of the filter and the valve. However, it is still important to do your hydraulic calculations; this will help you select the proper control zone. Make sure that you have enough water pressure at the end of the line, this is necessary for the emitter’s to work properly. Most Drip Irrigation manufactures have this data readily available. For most pressure compensated emitters you need a minimum of 10 PSI at the end of the line. After you have pressure tested and flushed your system, it is time to install the emitters. It is a very good idea to use a hole punch that is matched to your emitters. Obviously, a hole that is too large will leak, a hole too small will make installation difficult. It would be smart to check with the manufacture to get specific installation instructions; this will help you install the product more efficiently and save you from any headaches that may occur.

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