Preface
Installing a new drip irrigation or micro sprinklers irrigation systems requires deep understanding in various engineering disciplines. Sometimes the first or second irrigation project assembly could be a somehow difficult for inexperienced assemblers. Having installed large number of drip and mini sprinkler systems for the past 28 years around the globe, I will try to provide free of charge simple instructions to help the novice farmer or assembler. In this article I will describe the specific process related to drip irrigation systems; however, it is almost 100% resemble when you come to install: mini, midi sprinkler or other sprayers and mist sprayers irrigation systems design. I divided this article in 16 chapters, the order of the chapters is a general recommendation and it should be adapted to each project's specific conditions and needs. DIY Drip Kits.

Drip irrigation systems installation guide.
1. Marking pipe lines and intersections
2. Main lines ditches excavation
3. Assembling irrigation control and distribution heads.
4. Main lines piping placement and union.
5. Connections between main lines with control and distribution heads.
6. Main lines ends and intersections and anchoring.

7. Covering main lines ditches

8. Manifold lines, ditches excavation

9. Manifold lines, pipes placement, union and lateral outlets preparation.

10. Drip irrigation (mini sprinklers) laterals distribution.

11. Covering manifold lines ditches

12. Main lines flushing and testing.

13. Manifold lines flushing and testing.

14. Emitters insertion and placement.

15. Laterals flushing and testing, emitters inspection.

16. Irrigation shifts flow rates measurement inspection.

 

1. Marking pipe lines and intersections

Please be sure that all crop lots are marked or at least clear to you, also water source location etc.

The first step in drip irrigation installation, prior to any action should be verification and comparison of the irrigation design / plan to the actual field, crops and water source geometrical and topographic dimensions and quantities. Good practice is to count trees or to sum all sub plots areas. Try to pick at least 4 topographical points in the field to compare the height to that of point with the same point on the plan.


Start marking all the pipe lines and intersections, according to the updated drip irrigation project plan. That step should be done by the project manager itself, sometimes with the help of a professional surveyor. The best way is to marc the end points of each line with wood stakes, using a rope to spread lime powder along the lines with the aid of a rope. In every intersection it is recommended to stick a bigger stake with the intersection number and ditch depth and width dimensions.

* A good practice in large irrigation systems installations is to attach the plan to plywood and to cover it with plastic sheet (mulch), that way you will always have it ready to use in the field itself.

 

2. Main lines ditches excavation

Excavate all main lines with the appropriate depth and width. Depth should take in account future field works depth and other projects that might cross those pipelines.

 

Common minimum recommended measurements
for main pipe lines installation

Pipe diameter (mm)

Ditch Depth
 (m)

Ditch Width (m)

63

0.4 to 0.6

0.2

75

0.45 to 0.65

0.25

90

0.6 to 0.8

0.35

110

0.75 to 0.95

0.4

140

0.8 to 1.0

0.45

160

0.85 to 1.05

0.5

225

0.9 to 1.1

0.55

280

0.95 to 1.15

0.6

 

3. Assembling irrigation control and distribution heads.

You might want assemble all control heads and even the main head in advance. Using the appropriate dealing materials as Teflon tape and special seals where needed. Be sure to assemble each head according to the head drawings of the specific system design. We recommend you will number each head and mark the same number on the general assembly plan.

This work can be done in field or in another out of field place.

 

4. Main lines piping placement and union.

Place the piping (rolls or trams) along the open ditches, be sure that the ditches are clean of sharp large stones that can harm the pipes. Than place the pipes one by one into the ditch while unioning each tram to the next one using the appropriate method: Compression fittings for HDPE, solvent Welding (Glue for PVC pipes or PVC bell shape heads with rubber seals.

 

For HDPE compression pipes please see the following links:
Compression fittings installation instructions, 16 to 75 mm
or
Compression fittings installation instructions, 90 and 110 mm

 

For PVC solvent welding joints pipes and fittings (glue) please see the following link:
PVC Solvent Welding joints (Glue)

 

For PVC bell / rubber joints pipes and fittings, please see the following link:

5. Connections between main lines with control and distribution heads.

When main lines are connected, before covering the ditches (near all system junctions)

Connect each control head, bypass, valves head, filtration, water metering and fertigation heads. All heads should be erected and supported (if needed) properly to avoid failures and parts damages.

 

6. Main lines ends and intersections and anchoring.

When using PVC pipes and joints with bell/rubber joints a solid strong anchoring block is needed in ant line start, end, elbow, tee etc. The cement block will prevent from the bell/rubber joints to be pulled out one from another whenever the system is under pressure.

 

The most common anchoring is made bt cement made at the field of the project.  Cement block size and position should be calculated by a professional engineer accordingly.

 

7. Covering main lines ditches

When all pipes and control heads are assembled a complete coverage of the various ditches should be done. Compacting of the covered soil should be done if needed as well.


8. Manifold lines, ditches excavation

Excavate manifold lines with the appropriate depth and width. Depth should take in account future field works depth and other projects that might cross those pipelines.

Common minimum recommended measurements
for manifold pipe lines installation

Pipe diameter (mm)

Ditch Depth
Seasonal field crops (m)

Ditch Depth
Orchards (m)

32 to 63

0.15 to 0.3

0.4 to 0.6

75 to 90

0.2 to 0.35

0.45 to 0.65

9. Manifold lines, pipes placement, union and lateral outlets preparation.

Connections from manifold lines to drip lateral are done with 2 main methods.

A. Head connectors that start from PE or PVC pipes (32 mm to 90 mm)

Usually available sizes: 12, 16, 17 and 20 mm

For PE HDPE pipe use a 7.7 mm drill
Than connect directly pushing each connector with force using a short screwdriver.

line start connector drilling hdpe

 

 

For PVC pipe use a 15.5 mm drill
Also you should use a special grommet to assure sealing.
After drilling, place the grommet in the hole and then connect the start connector by  pushing it with force using a short screwdriver.

line start connector drilling pvc with grommet

 


B. Clamp Saddles,

When using clamp saddles along with threaded barbed connectors

 

Locate each clamp saddle in the center of the target drip lateral; make sure that the O-ring is placed in its groove accordingly. Tighten the bolts. (usually 2 or 4 bolts)

Than drill a hole in a diameter according to the saddle manufacturer instructions.

Usuall the hle should be smaller than the O-ring located between the saddle and the pipe. Common hole diameter for ¾” outlet saddle is a 16 to 19 mm

clamo saddle with barbed connectors

 

 

10. Drip irrigation (mini sprinklers) laterals distribution.

Distribute drip or mini sprinklers laterals along the crop lines, spaced according to the system design. Connect each lateral to the manifold pipe with the appropriate connector. Available connectors are barbed (toothed) connectors for LDPE laterals or Ring assisted connectors for tapes and LDPE with small wall thickness.

Sometimes mainly in orchards or other landscape projects compression connectors are being used. Check the list of materials to figure out which connector is planned for this project.

11. Covering manifold lines ditches

When all manifold pipes and lateral are assembled, a complete coverage of the various ditches should be done. Compacting of the covered soil should be done if needed as well.

 

12.  Main lines flushing and testing.

Flush the end of each main line and test each main line to assure a perfect installation


13. Manifold lines flushing and testing.

Flush the end of each manifold line and test each manifold line to assure a perfect installation

14. Emitters insertion and placement.

If laterals are pre fabricated go to number 15.

If online (button etc.) drippers or mini sprinklers are to be used, you should perforate holes in the laterals in the appropriate location and spacing according to your system design. Holes are being done with manual punchers.

Punch tool
punch tool for online drippers

Quick Punch tool
quick punch tool for online drippers

 

Puncher diameter is subject to the dripper / mini sprinkler manufacturer specific instructions.
Common holes:
Supertif and D1000 Online Drippers = 2.0 mm
Katif Dripper = 2.8 mm

Mini Sprinklers 4/7 mm connectors = 3.0 mm

 

15. Laterals flushing and testing, emitters inspection.

Before you can open water to use finally the system for irrigation you should flush again all manifold lines and then all lateral lines, when water is clear and all laterals are flushed you can close each lateral end with the appropriate line end.

 

Line end for LDPE pipe
line end for driplines

End line for tape and thin wall pipes
line end for drip tapes

 

Inspect each lateral and each emitter to assure it is working properly with the designed flow rate without lateral leaks.


16. Irrigation shifts flow rates measurement inspection.
When installation is done clean the main and control (if any) filters.

Start the installation shifts one by one inspecting the working pressure, flow rates, wetting zones etc.

 

Good luck
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