[Market-farming] Old drip tape--why does some last longer?

Willie McKemie mf at austinfarm.org
Tue Jun 7 06:42:01 EDT 2011

Here are some of my comments on drip tape longevity:

I've settled on 15 mil.

I've buried it in the past.  Here, a few inches of dirt does not deter 
rodents and insects.  I get about the same number of leaks on the 
surface and they are easier to repair.

In very dry weather, critters seeking water can be a big problem.  
Though it is satisfying to kill the critters, it may be more effective 
to give them some water.  Especially on orchard crops with heavy 
tubing, we sometimes place kitchen bowls to catch emitter water.  Also, 
bowls can be used to catch some water at the ends of drip tape runs.  
Far from 100% effective, but it helps.

I use T-Tape now.  Some brands I've found much more prone to clogging.  
I follow instructions and try to keep the emitter side up.  I use 
automatic drain valves to try to keep mud flushed out with every 
pressure cycle.  Our ground water here has what is called "iron".  
Water out of the wells flows clear and clean.  But when the water sits 
in the plumbing, a red mud precipitates out.  Just before it goes into 
drip lines, we run the water through screens of about 100 mesh attached 
to the hose bibs.

Now, I use drip tape only to get crops established.  After they get 
going, I furrow irrigate between pairs of beds about 5' apart.  While 
we are getting a crop established, we may share a single run of drip 
tape between several rows, moving it every day or half day or so.  A 
sheppard's crook loop of about 10ga wire attached to the end of a pole 
helps in moving from row to row and in repositioning wind blown tape.  
I try to get the tape removed before crops and weeds get very high.

I've never attempted to wad up or roll drip tape for storage.  I pull 
it straight out of the field and store it along side fences.  As near 
as I can tell, I get no handling or storage damage.  We get several 
years use of the tape.  Maybe five.  Hard to tell since we discard 
some and add some new tape each year.

Willie, ONWARD!  Through the fog!
http://counter.li.org Linux registered user #228836 since 1995
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