Farming in the Dominican Republic requires a lot of watering. Drip irrigation reduces the amount of water used and the time spent hand watering.
To keep the pressure constant, the aim is to create a circular drip irrigation system that can have sections shut off when not in use. Long lengths of pipe that don’t rejoin the main loop are bad because they reduce pressure.
These are the beds we want to irrigate. The red stars mark the taps we would use to feed water into the system.
We run 1/2 inch black irrigation pipe over grow beds and under the mulch burying it under the paths to avoid the connecting section becoming a hazard.
The model looks something like this:
For plants that are close to the pipe we use drippers (usually 0.5 gallon per hour) which plug straight into main pipe which look like this:
You can see here that the plant is so close to the pipe that the water will be going directly to the soil around it.
If a plant is more than half an inch from the pipe we run macro tubes off the main line to the plants with a dripper on the end to bring the water from the main pipe to the plant.
When we have smaller plants closer together (for example leafy greens like Arugula) it’s not worth putting in that many drippers, so instead we use ½ inch porous soaker hose which slowly releases 100 gallons/hour per 100m. We put in two lines per bed to reach a wider area, using a T shape connector.
As we rotate the plants grown in each bed we can easily switch between the soak hose and the regular pipe with drippers (for example, eggplants would use drippers as they are larger and planted far apart whereas arugula would use soak hose as they are small and planted close together).
You can easily add sections to your system too as long as they follow the rule of always rejoining the main loop.
- Do a quick drawing of your garden layout with measurements, so you know where you are going to start and finish, which sections you want to be able to turn off and how much of all your materials you will need.
- Run timers on your taps to be sure not to forget to turn them off ($15-50 depending on how complex you want to make your system)
- Bury the pipes between beds to avoid tripping on them and running over them too much with wheelbarrows
- Lay out lengths of the tubing to heat up in the sun – it helps straighten them out from the coil and makes it easier to work with (Old landscaper’s tip!)
Overall, make sure you have some good cutters, a tape measure and a plan.