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Avoid Soil Ingestion in Your Drip Irrigation System

Soil ingestion, also known as “soil suck-back”, is a serious problem that can lead to plugging, lower system uniformity and lower crop yields. It occurs during system shut down when water drains out of emitters located at the lowest elevation in a drip tape or drip line. This creates a vacuum in the line at higher elevations that “sucks” soil, sand and other external debris into the emitters. It is typical in drip irrigation systems that have been designed and installed without the correct use of air valves.

 

The Role and Placement of Air Management Valves

Air and vacuum relief valves are critical for the proper function and protection of an irrigation system. Each time the irrigation is turned on, existing air in the system must be allowed to exhaust quickly to avoid water hammer in the pipelines and possible reduction in flow from trapped air. When irrigation is turned off, air must be allowed to re-enter the system to prevent the creation of a vacuum, which at a minimum causes soil ingestion, and in severe conditions can cause the collapse of distribution pipes. For the best protection, the appropriate type of air management valve should be installed at the following locations:

 

Why a Slit Outlet is Important

One T-Tape innovation that helps improve the benefit of using air valves is the slit outlet. Unlike a normal outlet that is manufactured by using a laser, drill or punch, a slit outlet uses a knife to cut a slit into the emitter without removing any material from the tape wall. When pressurized, the slit opening allows water to drip out of the tape at the specified flow rate. However, when the system shuts down, the slit closes up to help prevent soil and debris from entering into and plugging the emitter.

Other manufacturers also claim to have a slit outlet, but you should look closely to ensure they do. Many outlets look like a slit but are formed with a laser that actually removes material from the wall, leaving a permanent opening for soil and debris to enter into the emitter when the system shuts down. This completely defeats the purpose of the slit outlet and provides no additional protection against soil ingestion.

 

Additional Protection at No Additional Cost

If you want a simple and cost-effective way to provide additional protection against soil ingestion at no additional cost, use the slit outlet in T-Tape, the brand growers have trusted for over 40 years.

 

Learn more about air valves and other air management valves.
Discover the benefits of Rivulis T-Tape drip tape.

 

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