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I am in Western Kansas and am looking for more efficient ways of watering. Right now we have center pivots and quarters of ground(160 Acres) and the circle covers roughly 120 acres. I am looking for any input on guys that have ran sub surface irrigation, thoughts and opinions and if it was worth the money! Any input is appreciated.
 

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There are guys here in Alberta that have been using SDI for 30 years with great success. I don't know much about it but apparently they are buried about a foot down usually. The lines are divided into zones; you don't water the entire field at once. Basically you flush the system in the spring, and there are some detergents they put through to clean out mineral deposits. And there are always leaks from time to time, but you can just look for them in the spring (a wet spot) and with a shovel dig down and then fix the lines. Apparently it's not too bad.

I'm very intrigued by this and I think this is probably in the future for us. Would be nice to have square fields too! The cost of installation is about 1.5x the cost of a pivot installation. Obviously you have maintenance such as I described. But no gearboxes, no pivot tires, no collapsed spans when a safety circuit fails.

So to answer jesseb99's question, based on my limited knowledge I would say:
- special chemicals to flush minerals
- there will be leaks from time to time
- cost is 1.5x a pivot
- only 12" deep usually, so no deep tillage possible

Advantages:
- 100% efficiency... will that translate into more water rights, or being allowed to use the same allotment over more acres? I believe it will eventually
- less leaf disease. Risk of white mold in beans significantly reduced as you're not spraying the leaves with water
- square fields
- through zoning you can achieve variable rate irrigation.

I have a cousin looking to put in a quarter section of this in the next year or two. Fed by the river, so 100% efficiency makes Alberta Environment happy.
 

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has anyone ever heard of people having problems with the lines that are left in a field after one of these systems has been abandoned or redone. Are they hard to remove and if so how would you ever get rid of it all.
 

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You mentioned that it is 1 and a half times the cost of a pivot. I am completely unfamiliar with irrigation, and I mean completely, so what would that make the cost? What kind of return can you see on one of these systems?
 

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Biggest problem I've heard is if your water isn't perfectly clean you can plug the holes and then your screwed. I don't know how river water would work without a pretty fancy filter system.
 

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The biggest expense is the filtration, SDI needs to be filtered down to 120 to 160 mesh depending on the emitter size.
A lot of my Neighbors are starting to put Drip tape on there pivots, they already have invested in the Pivot, now it is just an addition to the pivot, Here they are seeing a 15%yield increase on there Alfalfa, the malt barley field have yielded the same. there are still 2 pivots of sugar beets and 2 pivots of navy beans left to be harvested, and a field of corn silage.
they re did the gallonage and pressure on there pivot, they went from 875gpm to 700gpm and the pressure has been lowered down to 20 psi at the pivot center. The drip tape only need 5-8psi to operate,
I have pictures, i am trying to get them posted
 

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Batman,

Great photos-thanks for posting!

So they're just bolting the tape into the pivots and running it above ground?

Laid out after seeding?
Then roll it up before harvest? (See that it's on the ground for the wheat/barley) what about for the corn?
 

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You mentioned that it is 1 and a half times the cost of a pivot. I am completely unfamiliar with irrigation, and I mean completely, so what would that make the cost? What kind of return can you see on one of these systems?
I could be way out of date here, but last we were in the market for a new pivot installation, the complete solution from pump to mainline to pivot was about $100k CAD. I'm sure it's more now.
 

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One of the drawbacks is the water won't rise to the surface. You have to have sufficient rainfall to germinate the seeds so the roots can grow down to the water or run the pivot to germinate the crop.
 

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the tape really is that long

On drip tape we don't talk gallon per minute we talk gallons per hour.
this drip tape has one gallon per hour emitters every 6 inches. so to take 700 gallons per minute, so you have 7000 emitters dragging behind the pivot. So the farther you get out the more emitter you have to have to get all the water. the last tower of the pivot, the drip tape is over 80ft long and it is on the ground. what you see coming off the pivot are feeder hoses, that range from 15ft to 25ft, they the drip tape is attached.
For cutting hay and barley around here, they guys cut into the center of the pivot and then move the pivot into the center. then they send a guy down the pivot to pull all the drip tape under the pivot. When harvest is over they start up the pivot and the tape will straighten out.
For winter, on farmer just leaves it alone and the wind will blow it around, The Barley field in the picture has been planted to a cover crop, those farmers are going to graze it off. so they are planning on taking the tape and zip tying 10- 20 strands in several different place so it will look like a pony tail, then they are going to hang the tape on the pivot to keep it away from the cows, it will be interesting to see.
one thing we have learned is that we can sprout Seeds with SDI, you just have to have a closer spacing, 30-36in apart, at that spacing we can move enough water to the surface to start your corn, wheat, barley, beans and sugar beets. but Alfalfa will still need a surface application. I do need to clarify, I have not seen any SDI in sandy soils, so I do not know how it would work. but as usual this all depends on you what kind of soil you have for SDI.

sorry for the long response. I am liking Drip the more I am around it.
 

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The biggest problem I see with the drip tape on the pivot is every time you need to reverse directions it could be a real mess. How do they handle this at seeding and harvest time when you need to move the pivot, often a couple of times?
 

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backing up the pivot is not bad, the pivot just runs over the tape. they do have problems with the tape right behind the wheels, (which I do not understand why the put it there) it will pull the tape off. But like I said it will just run over the tape. we are trying to figure out to put the tape on a pivot corner system. but it will take some time to figure out how we can run over full of water. I am headed for training in California in a couple of weeks so I should know more when I get back:28:
 
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