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Efficient Flush Design for Irrigation Systems

Mark Jolles
Former Director of Irrigation Sales // 14 Nov. 2017
Mark was with Amiad for 6 years.
under water bubles

Irrigation systems are a crucial investment for the high-yield production of quality produce.

As discussed in previous blog posts, physical, biological and chemical materials are found in most water sources. When water travels through irrigation pipelines, these materials usually stay suspended in the water, but when the water flow slows or stops, the materials can settle out and build up over time, which can increase the risk of clogged irrigation emitters.

A proactive strategy to prevent emitter clogging is required to protect your investment and make sure your crops are irrigated in a uniform manner.

These preventative measures include filtration, chemical treatment and flushing of irrigation pipelines.

In this post, we will focus on the efficient design of irrigation system flushing.

What is flushing?

The term “flushing” is used in two different contexts. The first relates to the process of sending water through irrigation system pipelines to push out any contaminants that have built up or settled in the piping over time. The flush water and the contaminants are released from the irrigation system through various flush ports. Chemicals are sometimes used in the process to help break down any biological or mineral build-up. Regular pipeline flushing is recommended to minimize the buildup of materials in the irrigation system to ensure even water flow throughout the system. The irrigation system should be designed so that the sizes of the main line, laterals and valves allow for sufficient flushing velocity to effectively remove any contaminant build-up.

Flushing is also used to clean collected contaminants from the filter media (screen or disc) of filters installed as part of the irrigation system. If manual filters are used, the filter media will need to be removed from the filter housing and rinsed with a clean water source to remove the collected contaminants. This water is also considered flush water. If automatic, self-cleaning (self-flushing) filters are used, the filters will use a portion of the feed water to the filter system to perform a self-cleaning action on the filter media, and this flush water will be released from the filter system via a flush valve along with the removed contaminants.

The connection between flush water and water efficiency

The flushing of irrigation systems requires water. In a time when the demand for water exceeds the supply, and every drop counts, this can pose a challenge for growers. Not only do they need to efficiently use their water supply for the irrigation of their crops, but they also need to allocate enough water to flush their irrigation systems and filters so that the irrigation system continues to work optimally in the long-term.

The most flush water efficient system design will include a self-cleaning filtration system at the feed point to the irrigation pipeline. This type of filter system will remove suspended contaminants, preventing settling in the irrigation pipeline and emitter clogging. With this type of design, the main flush water produced will be the flush water from the self-cleaning. Flushing of the irrigation pipelines will be minimized as the feed water will contain minimal solids with the potential to settle and clog the emitters.

Save on flush water with Amiad Filtomat screen filters

The Filtomat uses 8 times less water for self-cleaning than a sand media system over a typical growing season.

Want to see how screen filter technology compares with sand media?
Download the PDF