SDI system costs include filtration equipment, since clogged emitters are a major enemy of water distribution.

The filter, usually an automated sand media, disk or screen type filter depending on water quality, helps prevent clogging of the drip tape emitters, Bisconer says. Maintenance chemicals such as acid and chlorine may be injected regularly to clean the system.

“We have switched from centrifuge and screens to sand media due to excessive plugging of the screen,” Anthony says. “Our maintenance includes daily flush of filters, an annual flush with N-Phuric acid and repair of main and submain leaks as needed.”

Lamm says valves, filters, flow meters, pressure gauges and other system components should also be inspected routinely for worn parts. Pipelines and components should be winterized in colder climates, he says.

Drip systems are often used to apply fertilizer and other chemicals to root zones. “Injecting small amounts of nitrogen solution into the irrigation water can spoon-feed the crop, while minimizing the pool of nitrogen in the soil available for percolation into the groundwater,” Lamm says.

Anthony says he will likely add more drip irrigation to his operation. “We need to improve our overall irrigation program even more,” he says. “This system helps us do that and helps get water more efficiently to various sizes of fields.”