With the hot season almost here, it is time to once again make sure that irrigation systems are working. It was of interest that a recently advertised irrigation information session failed to attract enough interest to justify being held. There may be reasons for this, such as growers being busy doing other important work; or maybe everyone has been well skilled in the art of irrigation maintenance from the excellent programs that NRM and PIRSA have been involved in over recent years. It is interesting, however, how often stories of poorly maintained irrigation systems seem to crop up. Several viticulture advisers in the reason regularly report finding such problems. For example, did you know that a 20mm drip line with a 1mm layer of algae or clay deposit around the internal wall has a reduction in diameter of 20% from its design diameter?
Clearly, this will have major implications when trying to irrigate during heat waves or hot spells and keep plants hydrated. Systems that have not been regularly maintained may not be operating at their design output, and so while a grower may believe they are irrigating enough, this may not be the case. Crop yield and quality loss may occur as a result. It is a good idea to check that irrigation systems are operating at design pressure before the hot weather starts in earnest.