Irrigating Sub-acre Plots

Courtesy of Michael K. , Good Fortune Farm, Brandywine MD
Here is some general advice regarding irrigating plots under an acre.

1. Check the volume your well pumps in GMP, time how long it takes to fill a 5 gallon bucket. Also the pressure using a pressure gauge. Do this at the faucet and at the furthest distance from the outlet to get an idea of pressure drop.
2. If you have a shallow or deep well consider the capacity of the well and the cost of operating the pump for prolonged periods of time. Also replacing the pump if you burn it out by pumping the well dry using overhead sprinklers. Home pumps may not be designed for prolonged ag. use.
3. For individual plants like peppers, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, consider individual drip emitters fairly affordable at hardware stores, and low volume use. Can be run off a 5 gallon bucket or 50 gallon drum
4. By the time you purchase enough large volume hoses to effectively irrigate an acre overhead you may want to consider drip.
5. T-Tape type drip can be pretty cost effective except for the initial investment of the t-tape some places sell 1000 foot rolls in addition to the 7000 foot rolls. Supply line (1/2” poly) is fairly affordable commonly called orchard tubing you can use this for most head lines for drip use. Orchard tubing is not so good for sprinkler use as it tends to kink when you move it around.
6. Drip tape, buy 8 mil or thicker as it will hold up. 10-15 is preferred (more hoe resistant) but you get less per bulk roll.
7. For drip system design check out DRIP WORKS.
8. For effective drip use think long rows over many short rows to keep cost lower. 1 – 100 foot run over 4-25 foot runs.
9. Over head system may also promote more inter row weeds adding to labor over drip lines.

By the way, get started on that hoop house. You won’t have time in the spring to do a good job.