Irrigation on the Farm

We really appreciate having access to plenty of good clean water to grow our veggies here in the Willamette Valley! This time of year we couldn’t have nearly the beautiful bountiful produce we have without it. When summer comes we spend lots of time setting up and moving irrigation equipment.

When I first started farming we used only drip tape, aka t-tape, on the farm for years. It looks like a strip of flat black tape when it is laid out, but it inflates when filled with water. The emitters regulate the amount of water that is released and the type we use has emitters every 12 inches. It waters exactly where the plant is and doesn’t water all the weeds in the path. When we run it there is very little water loss to wind or evaporation since it just lays on the ground and drips. There are lots of different options for t-tape but we prefer the thicker (10-15ml) tape because it lasts longer. We try and minimize our use of plastic on the farm, and when we do use it we try and chose more durable types and then recycle them when we can’t reuse any longer.

There are also some circumstances where overhead irrigation is very helpful. Some crops really like the humidity created by overhead water. Other crops that are direct seeded close together and cover crops spread across the whole field need overhead water to insure good germination. We use Wade rain 3″ hand lines set 60′ apart with 40′ between sprinklers. It is an old, but elegant system of aluminum pipe and fittings. Wade was originally manufactured nearby so there are lots of used parts available locally. When in good repair (with new gaskets & nozzles) and run properly, overhead water keeps broccoli & cover crops very happy during the summer.

Happy watering!