Equipment and Irrigation

Valve troubleshooting I recently turned on an irrigation system and some of the valves are not working. I've checked the valve boxes, and they seem normal. Any troubleshooting suggestions?-Montana

Be sure the valves are programmed to run and the controller is plugged in. Check the wall outlet to determine if incoming voltage is normal. It should be 110 to 113VAC.

If this reading checks out, turn on two or three valves in a row, and check voltage on your controller. It should read between 23 and 28VAC. If you get a reading that is substantially less (5 or more VAC) than these, take the faceplate off of the controller and trace the wires. Find the point at which the wires you are testing exit the transformer and check the voltage there. If you get the same, low reading, chances are that you have a bad transformer.

Faulty controllers are rare and wiring problems usually show up in valve boxes themselves. Be sure you inspect all wire connections thoroughly.

Calibration for sprayers How can I be sure my boom-sprayer nozzles are calibrated correctly?-Missouri

Every type of nozzle has a specific output rate. For example, a flat-fan nozzle that has a specification number of 8003, sprays at 80 degrees and has an output rate of 0.3 gpm. To calculate the percentage of error for a nozzle which is worn or old, you must complete these steps:

* Set the proper psi for the nozzle on the boom. (Most nozzles have a rated pressure of 40 psi.) * Using only water, start the spray flow. * From a single nozzle, collect water in a large measuring cup for 1 minute. * Divide the total ounces caught in the cup in 1 minute by 128 (number of ounces in a gallon) to find gpm. * Subtract the actual gpm from the specified gpm (found on the nozzle) to get the difference in gpm. * Divide the difference in gpm by the specified gpm to determine the percent error in the nozzle. If a nozzle is off more than 10 percent, replace it. For example:

* 45 ounces (collected in 1 minute) divided by 128 ounces per gallon = 0.35 actual gpm * 0.35 actual gpm minus 0.30 specified gpm = 0.05 difference in gpm * 0.05 difference in gpm divided by 0.30 specified gpm = 17 percent error

If you have ever laid a hose on the ground and let water trickle out of it to saturate the soil around plants or under turf, you've used what is called "bubble irrigation." Product developers have turned this concept into an applied technology that will effectively irrigate entire turf areas.

This system evolved from subsurface drip irrigation (SDI). Instead of forcing water into the soil as with SDI, bubble irrigation allows water to infiltrate into the root zone from the surface.

The bubbler system utilizes underground pipe, just as a conventional irrigation system. Flow regulators rise from the pipe at certain intervals, and small tubes extend from the regulators to the turf surface, where water bubbles forth. In many ways, it resembles a tiny drinking fountain.

In test plots, sections of fescue remain lush, indicating that the bubblers provide uniform coverage and use no more water than ordinary evapotranspiration (Eto) standards.

According to Ed Norum of the Center for Irrigation Technology (CIT) (Fresno, Calif.), a key advantage of this system is that it virtually eliminates spray. "Imagine no more water spraying in the streets, on fences, on brick walls or windows," Norum said. "And the cost is going to be less," he added. The system uses lighter materials at lower pressure ratings and simple flow regulators and tubing-not sprinkler heads.

Early results indicate that this may be a viable system for turf irrigation. CIT is conducting further tests on the system to see how it performs on slopes and how potential clogging may develop.

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