Strawberry Irrigation Basic Planning Tips

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Strawberry Irrigation

Basic Planning Tips

Growing Strawberries on both large and small scales has become popular in Canada and continues to be one of the most common crops requiring drip irrigation.  Planning a Strawberry Drip Irrigation System is not much different from planning any Drip Irrigation System.  The basic steps are the same and relatively easy to do, but necessary for your Vineyard watering system to work efficiently.

Step 1: Put It On Paper!: You know what your layout will look like, but it always helps to illustrate the Strawberry garden layout on paper as a first step. From this you will easily be able to calculate and document the following critical facts:

  • Water Source and Distance from Water Source to Vineyard
  • Number of Rows and Length of Rows (to calculate total drip line required)
  • Distance Between Rows in the Strawberry field
  • Number of total plants (to calculate number of emitters and water consumption)

This is the basic information needed to get started.

Water Source

As with all Drip Irrigation Systems one of the most important components of information needed is your Water Source capacity and pressure.  The amount of water and pressure you have available is critical to the design of the Strawberry Irrigation system   The flow rate and pressure available will help to determine how many plants you can water at any one time and how many zones you may require.  The following information will assume an existing water supply with set or municipal pressure.

Flow Rate: The easiest and most tried and true method for measuring your flow rate is the 5 gallon bucket method.  Simply fill a 5 gallon (19 Litre) bucket with your outdoor faucet or water outlet and record the time it takes to fill.  You can then calculate the flow rate based on your results.  The following is an example.

Example 1: 45 Seconds to Fill: To Calculate the flow rate you divide 60 Seconds by 45 Seconds and Multiply by 5.

Flow Rate = 60 / 45 x 5 = 6.67 Gallons Per Minute or 400 Gallons Per Hour ( 60 Minutes x 6.67 Gallons Per Minute )

Example 2: 90 Seconds To Fill:

Flow Rate = 60 / 90 x 5 = 3.33 Gallons Per Minute (GPM) or 200 Gallons Per Hour (GPH)

Pressure: Calculating pressure requires the use of a pressure gauge or an approximation of municipal pressure.  If using a pump, you may be able to dictate pressure precisely.  Pressure decrease over distance traveled in all tubing materials and the decrease increases as the size of your tubing decreases.  In addition to the static pressure loss there may also be dynamic pressure loss which is the pressure lost from emitter output down the drip line.  Below is a basic chart of pressure loss for both Poly and PVC tubing.

Poly TubingMax. Flow GPM (GPH)PSI Loss/100ftSch 40 PVCMax. Flow GPM (GPH)PSI Loss/100ft
1/2″4.6 (276)8.81/2″4.6 (276)7.7
3/4″8.2 (492)6.33/4″8.2 (492)5.6
1″13.4 (804)4.81″13.4 (804)4.2
1 1/4″23 (1380)3.11 1/4″23 (1380)3.1
1 1/2″33.8 (2028)2.91 1/2″33.8 (2028)2.9
2″52.3 (3138)1.92″52.3 (3138)1.9

As most Drip Emitters and Drip Emitter Tubing operate between 10 to 60 psi there is usually a wide range to work with but pressure loss must be considered, especially if travelling a long distance between the water source and the start of your Drip Irrigation System. The general rule of thumb is to start bigger to avoid pressure loss issues.

You are now ready to apply this information to your Strawberry Watering System.

Strawberry Patch Irrigation

Planning Your Strawberry Farm Drip Lines

We will now use our water supply knowledge and apply it to a Drip Line layout.  For this example we will assume a flow rate of 450 gph, and pressure of 50 PSI.

Strawberries are commonly planted 18 to 24″ apart with rows commonly 4 ft apart to allow for easy harvesting of the Strawberries.  For our example we are planning a drip system with 30 rows each 100 ft long with Strawberries planted every 18″.

Step 1: Calculate Number of Emitters and Water Needed – In this example we will calculate the number of emitters as follows:

  • 66 Strawberries planted per row (1,200 inches ÷ 18″ spacing) x 30 rows = 1,980 plants.

Step 2: Calculate Water Use Per Row and Choose Emitter Flow Rate – Choosing an emitter flow rate is one of the most critical components for planning an effective Drip Irrigation System. The decision will determine the number of rows you can water at one time while also impacting the time it takes to effectively water the entire Strawberry Patch.  There are two factors to take into account when choosing an emitter.  The two primary factor when choosing an emitter is water availability and time to water.  The emitter flow rate can also be impacted by soil type.

In this example we have 1,980 plants per area to water and have 450 gph available.  As an example we will using an emitter flow rate of 1/2 gph to accomodate both drip emitters and self piercing emitters in the example.  The total water requirement for the system to run will be 990 gallons per hour requiring a multiple zone sytem.

If we are using drip emitter tubing we can re-evaluate our flow needs as drip emitter tubing emitters are offered as low as .26 gph which can enable you to water more than one zone at the same time depending on the spacing of emitters used within the tubing.

Below is a table illustrating the maximum number of rows you can water at one time as well as the run time to give the Strawberries a 1/2 gallon of water.

Emitter Ouput1/2 GPH1 GPH2 GPH
Time To Water One Row (Hours)1 Hours30 min15 min
Consumption Rate Per Row (GPH)33 GPH66 GPH132 GPH
Maximum Number of Rows (400 GPH Available)13**63
Recommended Maximum Rows (75% = 300 GPH)942

**Maximum Number of Rows Calculated as 450 GPH ÷ Consumption (for 1/2 GPH Emitter) 33 GPH = 13.63 or approx. 13

As you can see as the Emitter output goes up the time to water goes down, and at the same time the number of rows that can be watered at any one time goes down.  We have found most customers have chosen a lower emitter rate to increase the number of rows that can be watered at one time with 1/2 GPH being our most popular.  For pressure compensated drip emitters the lowest available output is 1/2 GPH, however emitters available in Drip Emitter tubing are offered as low as .26 GPH.

Step 3: Planning Your Zone Layout – When deciding on a zone layout for Drip Irrigation systems we always recommend to be conservative when planning your zone layout.  Having more zones serves a few purposes; firstly it will ensure the zone has adaquate water supply to feed the emitters, and secondly provides more control over the entire system if for instance one zone has been harvested and needs to be shut off from the rest of the system.

For this illustration we have 3 zones to accomodate our water restriction of 450 gph.  Below is an illustration of the layout as well as a photo of the installation.

We will now look at the various connection options for installing your Strawberry irrigation system.

Strawberry Patch Irrigation

Components Layout For Strawberry Patch Drip Irrigation System

Now that we’ve determined the layout of our Strawberry patch we can now start to put together the components needed for a successful Strawberry Drip Irrigation System.  As previously mentioned there are several options to consider when developing your system so we will illustrate a few of the most popular designs installed by our customers.

As a recap our sample system has the following characteristics:

  • 450 gph of water available at 60 psi
  • 30 Rows of 100 ft each
  • Strawberries at every 18″ (1,980 Strawberries / approx. 66 Strawberries per row)
  • 1/2 GPH Drip Emitters will be used
  • We have determined that 3 zones of 10 rows each will be optimal for the system.

We have illustrated the sample layout below and will now examine a typical component layout using both self piercing drip emitters and drip line.

 1  Water Source Connection

Our sample Drip Irrigation system is using a 1″ Distribution Line from the water source.  We likely could have used a 3/4″ line but its often advisable to oversize your main distribution lines to avoid excessive pressure loss and to leave excess capacity for the possibility of future expansion.  Even if your water source is coming from a 3/4″ hose bib you step up the connection to accommodate the larger tubing size.  Below is a typical parts configuration from a 3/4″ hose bib to a 1″ Polyethylene distribution line.

439-131For this example we are connecting to a 3/4″ male hose bib.  This fitting then increases the thread size to 1″.  If your thread size is different a combination of parts can always be found in our Sprinkler Fittings category.
      61793P1″ Check Valve.  A check valve is necessary for any drip irrigation system using a residential water source to avoid back flow into the drinking water system.  If your system is using a water source specifically for the irrigation system a check valve is likely not necessary.
DF100-140 Filteration is critical for successful operation of any drip irrigation system.  Even though we also inclduded filter for every drip zone it is often advisable to have additional filteration at the water source.
1435-010Female adaptor for connecting to poly distribution line.  Clamps are required when using insert fittings.
or
37678If using Blu-Lock For your distribution lines you will also need a 1″ threaded coupling (430-010).

We will now move on to the components for drip zones and drip line connections.

Strawberry Patch Irrigation

Components Layout For Strawberry Patch Drip Irrigation System

Now that we’ve determined the layout of our Strawberry patch we can now start to put together the components needed for a successful Strawberry Drip Irrigation System.  As previously mentioned there are several options to consider when developing your system so we will illustrate a few of the most popular designs installed by our customers.

As a recap our sample system has the following characteristics:

  • 450 gph of water available at 60 psi
  • 30 Rows of 100 ft each
  • Strawberries at every 18″ (1,980 Strawberries / approx. 66 Strawberries per row)
  • 1/2 GPH Drip Emitters will be used
  • We have determined that 3 zones of 10 rows each will be optimal for the system.

We have illustrated the sample layout below and will now examine a typical component layout using both self piercing drip emitters and drip line.

 1  Water Source Connection

Our sample Drip Irrigation system is using a 1″ Distribution Line from the water source.  We likely could have used a 3/4″ line but its often advisable to oversize your main distribution lines to avoid excessive pressure loss and to leave excess capacity for the possibility of future expansion.  Even if your water source is coming from a 3/4″ hose bib you step up the connection to accommodate the larger tubing size.  Below is a typical parts configuration from a 3/4″ hose bib to a 1″ Polyethylene distribution line.

439-131For this example we are connecting to a 3/4″ male hose bib.  This fitting then increases the thread size to 1″.  If your thread size is different a combination of parts can always be found in our Sprinkler Fittings category.
      61793P1″ Check Valve.  A check valve is necessary for any drip irrigation system using a residential water source to avoid back flow into the drinking water system.  If your system is using a water source specifically for the irrigation system a check valve is likely not necessary.
DF100-140 Filteration is critical for successful operation of any drip irrigation system.  Even though we also inclduded filter for every drip zone it is often advisable to have additional filteration at the water source.
1435-010Female adaptor for connecting to poly distribution line.  Clamps are required when using insert fittings.
or
37678If using Blu-Lock For your distribution lines you will also need a 1″ threaded coupling (430-010).

We will now move on to the components for drip zones and drip line connections.

trawberry Irrigation

Components Layout For Strawberry Drip Irrigation System Cont’d

We will now look at the components commonly used to connect a main distribution line to your drip zone.

 2  Connecting to Drip Zones

In our example we are using a 1″ main distribution line and will now branch off to the 3 drip zones in our plan.  We have indicated that we will use 3/4″ sub-main line for our drip zones but you could also use 1″ if desired.  Each drip zone should have the following components; a shut off for the zone, a filter, and a pressure regulator.  When creating a zone there are a few ways of connecting the Main Distribution line to the Drip Zone.  We usually recommend using a saddle to create the “T”.  Saddles eliminate the need to cut tubing and also are make installation of the system a much easier process.  The table below illustrates the drip zone connections for both standard poly and Blu Lock fittings.

Poly TubingBlu Lock

Parts Listing

PolyBlu Lock
KT010D02917 &

02920

Saddle Tee’s save time and effort when installing any irrigation system.  Dawn products come with both saddle and tap while Blu-Lock saddles and taps are sold separately.
207-013207-0133/4″ Nipple Fitting for connecting the female threaded flow control valve or solenoid.
0921-070921-07Flow control is recommended throughout the Drip Irrigation System. This is where a solenoid valve would be installed if you are automating your Stawberry Field
DF075-140DF075-140Disk Filters are recommended for every zone as well as at your water source.
DD-NET45PRDD-NET45PRPressure Regulator to ensure pressure is within range for Drip Irrigation components.
1435-00737379Female Adaptor to connect back to zone distribution lines.
NDS 115TBCAs this portion of your system can be underground you will need a valve box to locate and protect the drip zone components.

Automating Drip Zones for Strawberry Drip Irrigation Systems

As mentioned above the flow control vavle can be replaced with a solenoid valve if automating the drip system.  This can be done one of two ways.  You can have a central controller with Irrigation Wire going to each solenoid or install a self-contained solenoid controller.

Strawberry Irrigation

Components Layout For Strawberry Drip Irrigation Systems Cont’d

We will now look at the components commonly used to connect Drip Lines to zone manifolds for a Strawberry Irrigation system using Drip Emitter Tubing.

 3  Connecting Drip Irrigation Lines For Each Zone Using Drip Emitter Tubing

Assembling Drip Lines using Drip Emitter Tubing is virtually the same as the part combinations when using drip emitters, except no emitters are punched into the drip lines.  When installing Drip Emitter tubing the type of emitter tubing you use is an important decision to make, and is usually determined by taking into account the quality of water you are using for the Strawberry field.  For non-municipal water sources the most popular drip line is Uniram from Netafim, while if you are using a municipal and relatively clean source you can use Techline or Techline EZ from Netafim.  When purchasing/installing drip line you will need to order the appropriate spacing of emitter and line the emitters up to the watering area.   You must also take note of the maximum run length for the drip line you are considering. Maimum Run Length Charts

When using Drip Emitter Tubing vs Solid Tubing with Emitters there are a few advantages and disadvantages to be aware of:

Advantages:

  1. Broader range of lower flow rates from Emitters.
  2. Easy installation (no punching emtters through tubing)

Disadvantages:

  1. When emitters clog they can’t be replaced.
  2. Set Emitter spacing (tubing must be special ordered for large spacing).

Choosing a Drip Emitter Tubing

When choosing a Drip Emitter Tubing there are options to consider depending on the characteristics of your Drip Irrigation System.  Irrigation Direct offers three styls of drip line for large garden applications as outlined below.

  1. Techline EZ – Intended for the DIY customer TLEZ is a durable drip line from Netafim with pressure compensated emitters with flow rates from .26 – .9 gph.  TLEZ is less expensive than competing brands while giving you quality you would expect from Netafim.
  2. Techline DL – For slightly longer runs Techline DL from Netafim uses pressure compensated emitters and is a popular choice for our Canadian climate.  Available in a wide range of flow rates.
  3. Uniram – Uniram is the choice for customers who encounter problems with water quality.  With outstanding filtering capabilities Uniram can be used in challenging circumstances.  Uniram is available on a special order bases with a minimum of 3,000 ft per order.

For a complete listing of Drip Emitter Tubing offered click here.

We will now look at a few options for connecting Drip Emitter Tubing to solid dristribution tubing.

  1. Drip Emitter Tubing with insert fittings (not intended for removing Drip Emitter Tubing lines).
  2. Drip Emitter Tubing with Swivel Adapter connections for easy removal of Drip Lines.

Drip Emitter Tubing with insert fittings

TLEZ 12mmTLDL & Uniram
KT007DKT007DDawn Quick Tap Saddle or Blu-Lock Saddle and Tap combination.  As noted above alternative fittings can be substituted for these products.
T12075MATL075MAMale Adatpter for both 12mm (T12075MA) or 17mm (TL075MA)
T12SOVTLSOVFlow (if desired) can be connected using a small piece of Drip Emitter Tubing from the male adapter.  T12SOV for TLEZ 12mm tubing and TLSOV for 17mm tubing.
TLS6TLS6Hold down stake for tubing up to 3/4″
T12SOVTLSOV Flow control valves can also be used for easy drainage of drip lines. Alternatively figure 8 fittings can be used to kink and seal the end of each line.
oror
T12F8DD-F8

Connecting Drip Lines from 1/2″ Solid Drip Tubing

For smaller systems it may be possible to conect drip lines to 1/2″ Solid Drip Tubing (when flow rate for drip lines is under 250 gph).  The following components provide the best connection combination and allow for easy removal of drip lines.

TLEZ 12mmTLDL & Uniram
24-06524-065Dawn Quick Tap Saddle or Blu-Lock Saddle and Tap combination.  As noted above alternative fittings can be substituted for these products.
T12075MATL075MA3/4″ Nipple Fitting to connect Saddle T to Flow Control Valve.

Strawberry Irrigation

Components Layout For Strawberry Drip Irrigation Systems Cont’d

We will now look at the components commonly used to connect Drip Lines to zone manifolds for a Strawberry Irrigation system using Solid Drip Tubing with Emitters

 3  Connecting Drip Irrigation Lines For Each Zone Using Drip Solid Drip Tubing with Self Piercing Emitters

There are two methods we will look at for Installing Drip Lines with Self Piercing Emitters:

  1. Solid Drip Tubing with Self Piercing Emitters Non-Removable Lines
  2. Solid Drip Tubing with Self Piercing Emitters w/Removalbe Lines

In these illustrations all lines are removable with some effort but “removable lines” are removed via swivel connectrs while “non-removable lines” need to be pulled from the connection assembly.  It is a matter of convenience.

1. Solid Drip Tubing with Self Piercing Emitters Non-Removable Lines

KT007DDawn Quick Tap Saddle or Blu-Lock Saddle and Tap combination.  As noted above alternative fittings can be substituted for these products.
207-020Nipple fitting to connect T fitting to flow control valve.  If no flow control is desired for individual drip lines this part can be omitted.  Various lengths are available in the Nipple Fitting category.
0921-07Flow Control for individual drip line is recommended to shut off harvested lines.  If flow control isn’t desired or necessary this component and the 207-020 nipple fitting can be removed from the assembly.
DL-75M6003/4″ Male Pipe Thread fitting x Direct Lock to connect flow control valve to the drip line.
TLS6Hold down stake for tubing up to 3/4″
DD-SPCV05Self Piercing Pressure Compensated Drip Emitter .5 gph.
DL-EC600End Cap for end of each drip line.  Removable cap for easy drainage and winterization.
DH700-1000700 Series Solid Drip Tubing Available in 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 ft rolls.
DH940-100940 Series 3/4″ Solid Drip Tubing.

2. Solid Drip Tubing with Self Piercing Emitters w/Removable Lines

As you can see from the above illustration to adjust the configuration to enable lines to be easily removable for re-location or winterization an additional nipple fitting is added and the 75M600 is replaced with a DD-CMP700.  As with the non-removable system, if no flow control is desired or required the DD-CMP700 can be directly inserted into the Quick Tap assembly.

Alternative Methods For Installing Drip Lines with Solid Drip Tubing

Before we move on to components for installing drip emitter tubing we will show you a few quick methods for installing drip lines to a lateral distribution line.  These methods require the distribution line to be cut for installation as opposed to the convenience of using saddles and taps.  The components used may be slightly less durable but high quality nonetheless.  These methods can only be employed using 940 series solid drip tubing.

Non RemovableRemovableDescription
Components used to connect 940 series tubing to lateral distribution lines.  The DD-CST940 has a swivel FHT T for removing drip lines.
DD-T940700DD-CST940
Compression Direct To TubingWhen connecting a 1/2″ to 3/4″ drip line using a T940700 all sides are compression and not removable.  When using a CST940 a DL-MH600 can be used to connect to the 1/2″ drip line.
NoneDL-MH600
Flow Control If desired.  Direct Loc fittings can be removed while compression can not.
DD-FCV700DL-FHS600
After connection to 700 series 1/2″ solid drip tubing the remainder of the components listed above remain the same.

We will now move on to component options when using Drip Emitter Tubing.

Strawberry Irrigation

Components Layout For Strawberry Drip Irrigation Systems Cont’d

We will now look at the components commonly used to connect Drip Lines to zone manifolds for a Strawberry Irrigation system using Drip Tape.  Drip Tape is likely the least expensive method for Irrigating a Strawberry Field it is also the least durable of the methods you can use.

Things to consider when using Drip Tape

Drip Tape is commonly used for large areas and or seasonal crops.  It’s relatively inexpensive cost make it a good choice for seasonal crops or temporary farming sites.  Prior to choosing Drip Tape for it’s economic benefits you should be aware of the dissadvantages that may affect your decision:

  • Drip Tape emitters are non-compensating make it difficult to provide uniform watering on long runs or undulating ground.  This can be a factor when requiring precision watering.
  • Drip Tape is made to last 1-3 seasons (Drip Emitter Tubing can often last 10 years or more) which should be factored into your budgeting.  If you are growing a crop that is seaosnal in nature, or that requires frequent soil turnover this will likely be okay, however if you are growing permanent plants you may want to consider Drip Emitter Tubing.
  • Due to its fragile nature, Drip Tape can be difficult to remove and roll up without causing damage to the tubing walls.
  • Drip Tape is operated at between 6-12 PSI, as opposed to 6-60 PSI for some Drip Emitter tubing.  This narrow pressure range can make water delivery a more complex issue than for other methods.

 3  Connecting Drip Irrigation Lines For Each Zone Using Drip Tape

One thing to note when using Drip Tape is the flow rate is usually presented in gallons per minute per 100 ft (GPM/100ft). If we use an example with a  common output for Drip Tape is .34 gpm/100ft, this would equate to 20.4 gallons per hour (.34 x 60 minutes).  Using our example of 450 gallons per hour available we should be able to water 2,200 ft of tape at one time (450 gallons per housr / 20.4 gallons per hour per 100 ft).

There are several ways to connect Drip Tape to Solid Drip Tubing and we will now illustrate the most common methods as well as other options for connecting Drip Tape.

Connecting with Barbed Fittings

Connecting Drip Tape with Barbed Fittings is the most common method used for small to medium sized drip tape systems.  Connection is made by simply punching a hole into the solid drip line, inserting the barbed fitting and connecting the dirp tape.  This is a permanent fitting and cannot be removed after installation, but is cost effective and simple.

Connection Components

Barbed FittingAs you can see from the illustration there are 3 common fittings used to connect Drip Tape to Solid Tubing
DT-TO250The DT-TO250 is a 1/4″ Barbed Fitting for 5/8″ Drip Tape.  This fitting can be used with both 1/2″ and 3/4″ solid tubing.  The maximum flow rate for this fitting is 80 gallons per hour, which must be taken into account when calculating your row length and flow rate of the drip tape you are using.
DT-TO400The DT-TO400 is a .4″ Barbed Fitting for 5/8″ Drip Tape.  This fitting can only be used with 3/4″ solid tubing.  The maximum flow rate for this fitting is 160 gallons per hour, which makes it a better choice for longer Drip Tape lines.
DT-FCV250BThe DT-FCV250B is a 1/4″ Barbed Fitting which also provides flow control for the drip tape line.  Maximum flow rate is 80 gph for this fitting.
TLS6Hold down stake for tubing up to 3/4″
DT-EC58
or

DT-TSE

End Cap for end of each drip line.  Removable cap for easy drainage and winterization.
Alternatively a DT-TSE can be used to fold the drip line over to seal the ends.  This can be removed when draining the lines.

Connecting with Threaded Fittings

Connecting Drip Tape lines with threaded fittings gives you the advantage of easy removal of lines and also will increase the potential flow rates for individual line due to the larger opening over barbed fittings.

Figure 1 – This illustration demonstrates a simple method for connecting a drip line to a saddle T and also provides the added benefit of flow control.

Figure 2 – This illustration is a variation with an additional swivel component to allow for easy removal of the drip tape line.

Threaded FittingsThe most convenient method installing threaded fittings to a 3/4″ line is using Saddle T fittings.  This eliminates the need for cutting lines at the intersection points of the line.
KT070CDawn Saddle T’s come in a variety of sizes for different tubing sizes from 3/4″ to 1.5″.  They can be installed in seconds.
Figure 1
DT-FCV50MPThe DT-FCV50MP is connected to the T fitting via a 1/2″ Male Pipe Thread and provides flow control for the individual Drip Tape Lines.
Figure 2
DD-FH4The DD-FH4 adapter serves 2 purposes.  Firstly it converts from Pipe Thread to a hose thread, and also provides a swivel adapter for easy removal of the lines.
DT-MH58The DT-MH58 is a male hose thread drip tape fitting that connects to the female swivel of the DD-FH4.  This will enable easy removal of lines.
DT-FCV58This is a mid line flow control valve (optional, but recommended)
TLS6Hold down stake for tubing up to 3/4″
DT-EC58
or

DT-TSE

End Cap for end of each drip line.  Removable cap for easy drainage and winterization.
Alternatively a DT-TSE can be used to fold the drip line over to seal the ends.  This can be removed when draining the lines.
irrigationdirectStrawberry Irrigation Basic Planning Tips

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