The exploitation of the drop-by-drop irrigation system (Using and maintaining the system)

Aquaduct’s team is on the regions’ irrigation market for over 20 years. Until now we’ve projected and designed 20.000 ha of irrigation systems. The acquired knowledge is passed on to users and each new system holds the advantages and experience from previous systems.

            The life of the irrigation system is made out of 3 phases:

  1. preparation and design
  2. building the system
  3. using the system

3 – using the system.            The third phase, using and maintaining the system is the most important and directly affects the production, providing conditions for achieving high and quality products. The owner-operator must possess a high level of knowledge about the conditions that affect the production: climate, soil moisture, plant knowledge, work organization, system knowledge, and knowledge of the nutrition adding process through the irrigation system (fertigation).

            For such a demanding task, good training of the operator is needed, a constant flow of information from the counsellor to the operator and disciplined control of the activities.

            The condition in the field shows us that most of the knowledge that is missing is in the using and maintaining sectors of the irrigation system. The users are not trained enough regarding the possibilities and rules about the system they are controlling.

            The basics of all decisions when working with the irrigation system is knowing the pressures, flow and time-lapse of some of the operations regarding watering and fertigation. The most important thing is that the system is set so that, an equal amount of nutrition is delivered to the plants that are nearby the equipment, as well as, those that are the furthest from it.

            The control and maintenance processes should be considered during the preparation phase – the designing of the irrigation system. The owner should demand from the engineers that they provide him with irrigation uniformity and adequate capacities of the fertigation system. The equipment should be able to work fast, with bigger rates of injection in the period when the soil is really moist, as well as, in a continuous paste, proportionally during the summer days. The one who delivers the equipment to the owner should provide him with attest and equipment specifications and the engineer should consolidate with the equipment quality.

            Before taking over the equipment the owner should get a manual for using and maintaining of the irrigation system with defined specifications of the built-in equipment and the starting parameters, as well as, using and maintaining procedures.

            The irrigation system is maintained preventively – by performing regular activities during the system’s work:

  1. Controlling the work of the pumps
  2. Rinsing and controlling the work of the filters
  3. Rinsing the primary pipeline
  4. Rinsing the secondary pipeline
  5. Rinsing the lateral
  6. Controlling the work of the fertilizer solution injector and chemicals
  7. Controlling the work of the automatics
  8. Periodically, with special chemical treatments for chemical and microbiological maintenance
  9. Maintaining each part of the equipment specified by the instructions and recommendations of the manufacturer.

            The user should be trained by the engineer and deliverer of the equipment about the ways of maintaining the system and its parts before using it.

            For the systems maximal effort all factors that affect the production should be controlled. The knowledge of production, soil and irrigation system is a must-have alongside all of the factors and weather, for proper decision making of when and how much to water it.

            It is most common for the amount of water, that is to be given to the plants, to be defined by a time-lapse (with droplets that have a ,,PC droplet’’ regulation of flow) 15 – 30 – 60 – 180 – 240… minutes, and not so much by the amount of water measured on the water meter. Basically, the same amount of water is delivered to the plants, but the only question remaining is tracking the work and analyzing the data at the end.

            By defining the regime of work the characteristics of the system and fertilizer injection rate must be known. Only by knowing this and with regularly defined watering intervals can we secure uniformity of the water and nutrition distribution.

            The most common problem of the exploitation is not knowing the specifications of the system which brings to a bad calculation of the fertilizer distribution. Owners seek solutions in the use of new automatic fertilization systems, hoping that the ,,smart’’ equipment can make the errors right again. This is the basic problem and delusion of most of the users.

            If the operator doesn’t possess the knowledge needed for maintaining the drop-by-drop system with all the necessary information about the possibilities and intervals, there is no automatic equipment that can fix that.

            If the basis is not set up right, no upgrading with automatic systems can help.

The solution of getting the exploitation system into the desired regime is in the next parameters:

  1. Analyzing the system
  2. Making a manual with the program of the work
  3. Educating the user
  4. Tracking the users and transferring knowledge until the moment the owner masters the knowledge and skills needed to regularly maintain the system on his own

           For all these activities AQUADUCT DOO is at your service to check, instruct and transfer the necessary knowledge.

Dipl. ing. Željko Mardešić
zeljko.mardesic@aquaduct.rs