Irrigation Nightmare

Axel(12b/Sunset H2)June 24, 2013

Maybe someone can shed some light on how to solve this problem. My garden is very fast draining sandy loam on a hillside, we have a healthy mole population, so the soil is super aerated.

I've made an investment into an extensive drip system, but after getting $1200 water bills and seing my trees drought stressed despite the watering, I tried switching to above ground micro-irrigation. But that has turned out to be even worse.

Finally, this year, I just decided to shut off the entire irrigation system because it's pointless. Instead, I've manually created swales and once a week, I just flood the swales with a hose and I also make sure to close up any mole created burrows. The test is to watch for standing water, as long as the water stands for a few minutes, then i know it's not draining off into mole tunnels. The plants are doing incredibly well and the water bill has dropped to a reasonable $200.

However, this is requiring that I spend a considerable amount of time irrigating manually. I've been trying to see what would actually work in terms of automated systems, but so far, no such luck. For example, I took a round lawn irrigation sprayer, and after 4 hours of watering the hillside, the soil was 100% bone dry, I mean not ONE once of moisture. It was as if there was no watering whatsoever.

I am at a complete loss as to how to create an automated watering system that would work.

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Your are using furrow or flood irrigation which has been around for thousands of years. Unfortunately, the system is very inefficient but in your case the only thing that works for your soils. You need a flume or ditch that runs perpendicular to your furrows. there needs to be adjustable gates at each furrow to allow water to go into the furrow. An automatic water valve can feed your flume and irrigate your furrows. Flumes can be made out of concrete or wood. The flume gates can be sheet metal or sheet plastic that move up and down in small gate frame. The flumes need to be at set at about 1.5% grade to maximize water height in the flume for the entire length and still move the water. Furrows should also be no more than 1.5% to minimize scouring but allow good water movement. GL JMHO Aloha

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 11:32PM
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