27 Jun

Part of my job involves irrigation scheduling. It is a lot easier now than it was say 15 years ago. Back then we had to use plastic or aluminum pipe like this pictured here.

This pipe was laid out and put together along the high side of the field (crown) by a team of 3 or 5 men. One of the big disadvantages of this method is not being able to take a tractor into the field for spraying. ( Cotton requires a lot of spraying ) When the tractor needed to spray the field, all that pipe had to be picked up by the same 5 man crew. Then when the field needed to be watered, the pipe had to be strung out and reassembled again. Very labor intensive. But now we have a method which is much easier. We use a long roll of poly-pipe, commonly called gut. The best way to describe it for someone who has never seen it is to say it is a single, super heavy-duty garbage bag, 1/2 of a mile long.

This equipment attached to the tractor will dig a shallow trench for the pipe to lay in, then roll out the pipe into the trench.

One end of the pipe is attached to the well using a zip-tie ( cable tie ). The well is powered by a diesel, propane or electric motor. When the well starts pumping, the water begins to fill the pipe. At this point someone walks along the pipe and punches a hole in the pipe using a tool which is nothing more than a wooden handle with a sharp punch attached to the end.

When the hole is punched water spurts out of the pipe and runs downhill between the rows. In a cotton field we punch every other row to avoid saturating the soil. Cotton doesn’t like wet feet.

When the well is shut off, the water drains out of the pipe and lays flat on the ground in the trench dug earlier.

The advantage to this is to allow the tractor to spray the field by simply driving across the pipe. The plastic is heavy-duty enough to allow this without tearing most of the time. If it does tear, it can be patched or repaired with duct tape.

This is Sweet Thing holding a piece of the pipe as it is just taken off the roll.

This is what it looks like split down one side. When the farmers are laying out this pipe, if they come up with a short bit left on a roll (50, 100 or even 150 feet ) it usually gets pitched in the garbage. I could have access to dozens of these bits of roll, free of charge. Now I just have to figure out what they could be used for. I am thinking of using one for a disposable creeper to work under the truck. You could also cover up any old leaky, drafty windows in the winter. I know some of you homesteaders, preppers, and survivalist could come up with some great uses for this. Any ideas?


4 Responses to “Irrigation”

  1. pioneerPreppy June 29, 2012 at 11:56 pm #

    Garden coverings? It would keep the weeds down really well and if you went tot he trouble of cutting small holes you could put it down and just plant a seed or seedling right through it.

    • doublebhomestead July 1, 2012 at 9:10 am #

      The only thing wrong with that is it would not allow water to pass through. I guess you could put a soaker hose underneath it.

  2. Andrew July 2, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    Nice photos of that operation, Bill!

    Some more uses for that cross-section: solar still, rainwater collection, stake it out and catch falling pecans/persimmons/figs to keep them away from deer (hopefully), duct tape them together for an emergency rain shelter, privacy screen in a shelter-in-place emergency…

    • doublebhomestead July 2, 2012 at 8:39 pm #

      Thanks Andrew, you had some good ideas for that leftover plastic. I’ll keep the ideas in mind.

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