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SPRINKLER VERSUS DRIP IRRIGATION

 With Melbourne water restrictions lifted and permanent water use rules in place, households are free to make the decision of whether they’d prefer having a sprinkler (or spray) system installed, or whether a drip irrigation system on their property is the way to go.

 During the deep drought, sprinklers were banned all together for gardens and lawns in an attempt to save precious water resources. If homeowners wished to have an irrigation system installed, then their only option was a drip system, and they were not allowed to water their lawns at all from the mains supply. Nowadays, sprinkler systems are permitted for use on Australian lawns and gardens (subject to current water rules.)

 Two things happened in the summer of 2011-12 that encouraged many people to install a new irrigation system, fix their existing system, or convert back to sprinkler irrigation systems -  the first was the lifting of the water restrictions (December 2011) and the second was the dry, hot summer we were expecting ahead of us.

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What are the differences between Sprinkler & Drip Irrigation Systems?

 Above-ground sprinklers, whether pop-up or fixed, distribute water in a fixed or variable spray across an area of garden or lawn. For the vast majority of people with a sprinkler system installed, these sprays run off mains water supply and are broken into varying zones around a property (such as backyard and side yard zones.) Some of the reasons for zoning these systems include: water pressure not being sufficient enough to run the whole system at once, and certain zones requiring different watering patterns or amounts of water than others.
 Under Level 2 water restrictions, drip irrigation methods were approved for lawn and garden care, but only within specified times and days of the week. With sources of water not provided by mains, special drip lines could be used to irrigate lawn (as long as they were installed prior to lawn being laid) under the ground at a depth that effectively and efficiently provided water to root zones.

Some of the problems associated with the spray system include:

  • Misting
  • Wind Drift
  • Overspray
  • Water Run-Off onto Paths & Roads
  • Easily Broken Sprinkler Units
  • Puddling
  • Easy Vandalised, Especially in Public Areas

The drip system (whilst not perfect) did overcome a lot of these inefficiencies and introduced some additional benefits, such as:

  • Reduced Evaporation, Due to Drip Line being Installed Underneath Mulch (Ideally)
  • Reduced Weed Growth by Not Watering Areas that Don’t Require It
  • Eliminates Wind Drift Issues Entirely
  • Avoids Run Off, Thanks to Slow Emission (Water Cannot Pool and Run Off)
  • More Efficient when Irrigating Slopes
  • Eliminates Overspray Issues Entirely
  • Reduces Water Consumption when Designed Correctly
  • Delivers Water Directly to the Root of the Plant where it is Most Needed
  • Reduced Vandalism

 

What are the components of Sprinkler & Drip Irrigation Systems?

Smart Controller: Innovative new controllers allow a user to access, control and adapt their irrigation system with ease. Control panels are primarily used to set the amount of days to be watered, time to be watered, and the watering duration of irrigation zones. Nowadays, a lot of irrigation controllers have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities incorporated for additional ease of use and control when away from site.

Solenoid Valves & Box: Solenoid Valves are a vital part of any irrigation set-up, as they are electromechanical actuated valves designed to control the flow of liquids through the system. In order to keep these valves safe when installed below ground, solenoid valve boxes are utilised. They provide protection to the valves while still allowing easy access should they require attending to.

Pressure Reducers/Filters: As dripper systems don’t need (nor can they be run on) the high pressure of mains water supply, pressure reducers are used in drip systems to reduce the mains pressure from the standard 600Kpa/800Kpa to a range of 180Kpa/300Kpa. Filters are used in irrigation systems to reduce or prevent the amount of impurities (debris, dirt, dust, etc.) entering the system and causing damage or complications. A filter unit cleans the suspended impurities in the irrigation water, so as to prevent blockages of holes and passage of drippers.

Drip Line & Stakes: An inline drip tube contains drippers which are built into the irrigation tube and are incorporated during the manufacturing process of the drip line. They have evolved in their design and are now very technically advanced, with measured watering rates from 1-20L per hour. Drip line can be compensated or non-compensated, depending on application and requirements.

Air Release Valve: These valves are installed at the highest point of each irrigation zone in order to prevent a vacuum occurring when the water is turned off and flowing out of the lowest positioned emitters.

Flush Valve: This is normally places at the lowest end (or the end point of a zone) to flush out any impurities that have found their way into the drip tube.

Indicator Flag: As most drip systems are buried or installed beneath mulch, it can be difficult to identify when your drip system is working as required. Indicator Flags simply punch into a drip line and raise when the system is operating, making it easier to identify issues within the system when a problem arises.

Smart Controller: Innovative new controllers allow a user to access, control and adapt their irrigation system with ease. Control panels are primarily used to set the amount of days to be watered, time to be watered, and the watering duration of irrigation zones. Nowadays, a lot of irrigation controllers have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities incorporated for additional ease of use and control when away from site.

Solenoid Valves & Box: Solenoid Valves are a vital part of any irrigation set-up, as they are electromechanical actuated valves designed to control the flow of liquids through the system. In order to keep these valves safe when installed below ground, solenoid valve boxes are utilised. They provide protection to the valves while still allowing easy access should they require attending to.

Piping: Pipe is an integral part of the irrigation system, as it supplies or carries water to all the various parts of the system. Piping is available in various sizes and class categories, ensuring there is an option for every application. When installing piping for an irrigation system, fittings will also be required to join these lengths of pipe. Specific purpose fittings and pipe are also available if required.

Swing Arm: A swing arm (or articulated riser) is the ideal unit for connecting a sprinkler to the lateral line, as they allow for articulation or movement of a sprinkler so that it can be adjusted quite easily to suit the soil level.

Emitters: Emitters (such as pop-up sprinklers, micro emitters, gear-driven emitters, etc.) deliver water directly from your system to the relevant irrigation zones.

 

 

NEW WATER EFFICIENT SPRINKLER NOZZLES

In recent times, irrigation component manufacturers have introduced more efficient watering nozzles that are fitted to the top of pop ups and risers that use up to 30% less water and provide lower precipitation rates thus reducing many of the pitfalls of the traditional spray heads.

Click on the Hunter Logo below to view the range of Hunter MP Rotator water efficient nozzles.

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PLANNING YOUR IRRIGATION SYSTEM

Our suggestion is that you let us help you.

The first option is to have Smart Water Installations (A division of Smart Water Corporation) come and provide you with a quotation on designing and installing an irrigation system for your property, be it your home or commercial property.
Whether it be a new system (sprinkler or drip) or converting an existing system to a drip system or visa versa, we can provide you with an obligation free quotation to do the work for you.

Just call us on 03 9754 0900 or drop in at one of our stores to have a preliminary discussion about your needs.

The second option is to do it yourself. It's not that difficult!

With our assistance in planning your project, understanding the components required, tips and ideas as well as the pitfalls to avoid, we can help you to achieve an efficient irrigation system.

Please click on the following link to our free Irrigation Planner.

How to create your own Irrigation System