Drip irrigation is one of the wonders of science that has revolutionized farming in all countries of the world. With drip irrigation systems, a lot of farmers have been able to increase their yield and profit.
As effective and efficient the drip irrigation system is, it can have problems that will make the farmer to think of condemning it. Yes, blockage of drip tapes or pipes can be a challenge for farmers.
How do drip irrigation tapes or pipes get blocked?
The drip irrigation system or drip tape or pipe gets blocked through the following:
The use of dirty water: If a farmer pumps dirty water into his drip irrigation system, the dirt and impurities in the water will clog the drip emitters. When the drip emitters are clogged, water will not be able to drip from the drip emitters. This means that the drip irrigation system will not be able to work effectively and efficiently.
Using insoluble fertilizers: The use of insoluble fertilisers or fertilizers not suitable for fertigation in the drip irrigation system can get the system blocked. In Nigeria, the popular NPK 15:15:15 sold in the market is not suitable for fertigation. If you use this type of fertilizer in your drip irrigation system, the system can get blocked.
Ways to prevent blockage in the drip irrigation system
The below strategies can be used to prevent blockage in the drip irrigation system:
Lay the drip tapes with the emitters facing up: To prevent the blockage of the drip irrigation system, when laying the drip tapes or tubes, the side with the emitters should face up. If the emitters face down, they will get blocked easily.
The use of water soluble fertilizer: All farmers having drip irrigation systems on their farmlands should only use water soluble fertilisers for fertigation. Insoluble fertilisers will leave particles in the drip irrigation system; these can block the drip emitters and render the drip irrigation system unusable.
Use your drip irrigation system often: If you do not use your drip irrigation often, the tapes or pipes may get blocked. Constant flow of water in the drip irrigation system can keep the emitters unblocked.
Filter: I must emphasize this, if you have a drip irrigation system, you are advised to use filters. Filters will filter away the dirts and impurities in the system. The filters of the drip irrigation system come in different shapes and mesh sizes.
Flushing of the drip irrigation system: It is advisable for a farmer to flush his drip irrigation system intermittently, especially if you fertigate a lot. Flushing is the act of removing the end plugs or stoppers in the drip tapes for water to come out of the drip irrigation system. Flushing makes impurities get out of the system.
Ways to unblock drip tapes
Acid treatment: Acids can be injected into the drip irrigation system to unblock the emitters. Some of the acids that can be used to unclog the drip irrigation systems are Sulfuric acid, phosphoric acid, nitric acid and hydrochloric acid. Care should be taken when using acids to unclog drip irrigation pipes.
Dosing pumps and venture injectors can be used to inject chemicals into the drip irrigation system. The drip irrigation system should be run for a long time so that the acids can be removed from the root zone.
Chlorine Treatment: Chlorine can also be used to unblock drip irrigation emitters. Chlorine can breakdown deposits formed by bacteria on the drip emitters.
I will discuss more on unblocking drip irrigation systems in other posts.