Vineyard Drip Irrigation Design

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VINEYARD IRRIGATION SYSTEMS AND DESIGN

Drip Irrigation is considered to be one of the most effective and efficient watering techniques for Vineyards.  Drip Irrigation precisely targets the root area to provide consistent and sustained results for your Vineyard.  It is also the preferred method for its ease of installation for DIY Vineyards.

We will now explore the basics of Vineyard Irrigation Design with detailed sample illustrations and components needed to get your Vineyard Drip System up and Running.

Types of Irrigation for Vineyards

Although it’s generally agreed that Drip Irrigation is the preferred watering method for Vineyards there are variations that offer similar results while having differences in installation, cost and maintenance.   As with most Drip Irrigation installations all methods will provide great results for your Vineyard.

Drip Lines are run down the length of each vine row and are either elevated (on the wire) or laid flat on the ground (on surface).  Elevation is usually accomplished using a ratchet clip (DD-RC700) attached to one of the Trellis Lines which run the length of the grape line.  Elevation provides several benefits to the system, namely the ability to maintain the planting are below without worrying about damaging the drip line.  Elevation also eliminates the possibility of soil clogging the emitter.  That being said on surface drip systems are also popular and will provide similar results.

Drip Emitters vs. Emitter Tubing (Drip Line): This is the decision most Vineyards will face when initially planning an Irrigation System.  While both are equally effective and very close in installation cost, there are advantages and disadvantages of both application methods.  Please note, regardless of the application method you must use pressure compensated emitters or pressure compensated emitter tubing for uniform watering results.

Drip Emitters: Drip Emitters are simple to use and reliable.  They are either self-piercing or used in conjunction with a hole punch and are pierced through solid drip tubing to assemble custom drip line.

Advantages:

  • Available from .5 gph to 2 gph
  • Easy to Install and replace
  • Can be installed directly above plant roots after planting

Disadvantages:

  • Time to install for larger systems
  • Rolling up Lines can be more challenging (if necessary).

Drip Emitter Tubing: Drip Emitter tubing is manufactured with emitters installed at defined intervals. Emitter tubing is offered with a variety of options pertaining to water quality and filtration.

Advantages:

  • Available from .26 gph to 1 gph
  • Emitters pre-installed eliminating individual installation of emitters

Disadvantages:

  • Emitters at pre-defined distances (plants must be spaced to emitter distance)
  • If emitters become plugged they cannot be replaced

Vineyard Irrigation

Basic Planning Tips

Planning a Vineyard 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 Vineyard 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 Vineyard
  • Number of Grape Vines (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 Vineyard system   The flow rate and pressure available will help to determine how many plant 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 travelled 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 Vineyard Watering System.

Vineyard Yard Irrigation

Planning Your Drip Irrigation Lines and Zones For Vineyards

We will now use our water supply knowledge and apply it to a Drip Line layout.  For this discussion we will assume a flow rate of 300 gph, and pressure of 60 PSI.

The Vineyard we will use for this example will be 15 Rows of 250 ft each.  Each row will be 16 feet apart.  The water supply will be located 100 feet from the start of the Vineyard.  Vines will be planted 6 feet apart.  We will now go through the steps to determine a zone layout that will provide an effective Drip Watering system.

Step 1: Calculate Number of Grape Vines and Water Needed – In this example we will have 630 Vines to water (15 Rows with 42 Vines per Row).

250 Ft Row ÷ 6 Ft Spacing =  41.66 (42 Vines/Row) x 15 = 630 Total Vines     

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 for Vineyards. 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 Vineyard.  There are a few factors to take into account when choosing an emitter.  The primary factor is water source available, time to water, and soil type.

In this example we have 42 vines per drip line.  The higher the output of emitter we choose the less time it will take to water the row.  Take for example a day where you would like to give each plant 1 gallons (3.8 Litres) of water.  This would require 84 Gallons Per Row.

Emitter Ouput1/2 GPH1 GPH2 GPH
Time To Water One Row (Hours)2 Hours1 Hour.5 Hour
Consumption Rate Per Row (GPH)21 GPH42 GPH84 GPH
Maximum Number of Rows (300 GPH Available)14**73
Recommended Maximum Rows (75% = 225 GPH)1052

**Maximum Number of Rows Calculated as 300 GPH ÷ Consumption (for 1/2 GPH Emitter) 21 GPH = 14.28

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 a Vineyard 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 15 rows in our Drip System with a recommended maximums of 10,5 , and 2 rows per zone depending on the emitter output used.  Since we have adaquate water supply for the system we will choose a 1 gph emitter to decrease the time to water for each row.  As you can see from the chart we can comfortably split the Vineyard into 3 zones of 5 rows each.  This will ensure adequate water flow for each zone and split the watering system into thirds.  That being said there is nothing wrong with dividing the Vineyard up into smaller zones to provide more control.  This is often done when different varities of vines are grown in the same Vineyard, when one may require a different watering schedule than the other.

For this example we will continue with 3 zones of 5 rows each and now we can start to put the Vineyard system together.

Vineyard Irrigation

Water Source Connections For Vineyard Irrigation

Now that we’ve determined the drip line layout of our Vineyard we can now start to put together the components needed for a successful 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:

  • 300 gph of water available at 60 psi
  • 15 Rows of 250 ft each
  • Vines at every 6 feet (625 hops / approx. 42 vines per row)
  • 1 GPH Pressure Compensated Drip Emitters will be used
  • We have determined that 3 zones of 5 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 Vineyard Drip Irrigation system is using a 1″ Distribution Line from the water source.  We likely could have used a 3/4″ line but it’s 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).

This is just one example of how you might set up a water source connection.   Also note, we have left out a pressure regulator as we will install them for each drip zone.

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

Vieyard Irrigation

Components Layout For Vineyard Drip Irrigation 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 Hop Yard.
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 Hop Yards

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.

Vineyard Irrigation

Components Layout For Vineyard Drip Irrigation Cont’d

We will now look at the components commonly used to connect Drip lines to zone manifolds for a Hop Yard Irrigation system.  There are a methods commonly used for drip lines which we will look at independently.

 3  Connecting Drip Irrigation Lines For Each Zone

There are several methods for connecting drip lines  and we will now illustrate the most common installations from our customers.

  • Using a Trellis Line with Emitters
  • Using a Trellis Line with Drip Emitter Tubing
  • No Trellis Line with Emitters
  • No Trellis Line with Drip Emitter Tubing

In our example we are using 3/4″ lines for our zone distribution lines.  We now need to connect the drip zone kit from   to the lateral distribution line for the drip lines.

As you can see from the diagram above we now connect the lateral with another “T” fitting.  We’ve indicated in the diagram that we will be using another Dawn quick tap fitting (KT007D) but there are a variety of fittings you can use to form a T using other methods;

DAWN KT007C1407-00702916 (BLS-075-BD-LT)37373 (BL401-007)

Drip Line Connection for Vineyard Irrigation Using Self Piercing Emitters and Trellis Line

This method for drip line assembly is commonly used for Vineyard Irrigation.  Whether or not you are using a Trellis line this connection assembly is beneficial as it allow the main and sub-main distribution lines to be installed underground with only drip lines above ground.  The distance to the flow control valve can be modified by using a longer nipple fitting or by using a small bridge of solid drip tubing.  See below for a parts breakdown with links to products:

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.
DL-75M6003/4″ Male Pipe Thread fitting x Direct Lock to connect flow control valve to the drip line.
DL-L600Direct Lock Elbow for 1/2″ Solid Drip Tubing
DD-RC700Ratchet Clip for attaching drip line to Trellis Wire.  Not needed for drip lines laying on ground.
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.

If the drip line is located at the end of a sub main distribution line there are two options.

a) Install the drip line as illustrated above and continue the lateral distribution line with an end cap or flow control valve.  This can be connected using a Male adapter 1436-007  and a 0921-07 as shown below.  This provides a convenient way to drain the sub-main line and can also provide a simple connection point if an additional drip line is installed.

b) Install an elbow at the end of the lateral line as shown below.  This is accomplished by replacing the quick tap saddle with a 1407-007.

Finally we will look at a possible component combination if the drip lines need to be disconnected for any reason.  Although the assemblies illustrated above can be disconnected relatively easily the illustration below replaces the DL-75M600 with a combination of a 3/4″ Nipple Fitting and a DD-CFP700 which is a female pipe thread swivel adapter.

The following page will illustrate Drip Line assembly examples for Hop Yards using Drip Emitter Tubing (Dripline)

Vineyard Irrigation

Components Layout For Vineyard Drip Irrigation Cont’d

We will now look at the components commonly used to connect Drip lines to zone manifolds for a Hop Yard 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 Hop Yard.  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

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.
TL075MA3/4″ Male Pipe Thread fitting x 17mm Insert Fitting
TLELL17mm Elbow
DD-RC700Ratchet Clip for attaching drip line to Trellis Wire.  Not needed for drip lines laying on ground.
TLSOVFlow Control for end of each drip line also acts as an end of line cap.

Drip Line Assembly With No Trellis Line

When connecting drip lines with no Trellis Line, the combination of components can be identical to those employed when installing lines with a Trellis.  The only component that isn’t necessary is the Elbow fitting.  In addition to this the RC700 Ratchet Clip is replaced with a TLS6 Hold down stake to hold the tubing in place.

 4  Drainage Flow Control

A flow control valve is often installed at the end of both main and sub-main lines to accommodate easy drainage and also enable simple continuation of the system if future expansion is a possibility.

Automation of a Vineyard Irrigation System

As previously mentioned the system layouts we have reviewed can be easily automated with either valve and controller combinations or stand alone zone controls for each zone.  That being said we often recommend manual flow control in addition to automation in case of electrical or solenoid failure.

Notes Regarding This Tutorial

This tutorial is meant as a general guideline for Vineyard Irrigation and is largely based on customer orders we have processed for successful installations.

irrigationdirectVineyard Drip Irrigation Design

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