Irrigation system for trees

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MarkinFrance

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Irrigation system for trees
« on: March 10, 2011, 09:29 »
Hi, I will say I'm being a bit lazy and haven't look through the forum for any existing threads....please accept my apology for this.
Right....I need advice on an irrigation system for 60 plus cider apple trees. They in 5 rows spaced 9 metres apart in a gently sloping (1 / 100) paddock. I have no water source at the top of the slope, but can pump it up from a well at the bottom. I was looking to install some 1000litre tanks and then use some sort of drip feed system. Presently I have 1 x 1000litre tank from which I hand water each tree 10 litres of water about 2/3 times a week in high summer! (my budget is not large, so need to get it right first time)
Advice welcome please, experience and pitfalls.
Thank you,
Mark

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Trillium

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Re: Irrigation system for trees
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2011, 17:29 »
That's a lot of trees compared to my 17.

From the start, I'd not recommend  soaker hoses for your orchard. While wonderful for small flower gardens and such, they would quickly pack up with mud and debris and stop working properly. And most have an average lifespan of 10 years provided they're mulched to avoid sun damage.

You'd be better off with a drip irrigation system, one with solid lines in a grid system, which you could then off shoot with secondary lines to do around each tree with several properly-spaced emitters. I'd recommend you mulch the whole area under the trees to help contain moisture and again, protect the lines from sun degeneration. The main grid lines themselves can be buried an inch or so into the ground for protection, but the emitters themselves need to stay on top of the ground so they don't clog.

by leaving emitters above ground you can check on them from time to time and replace or clean out any that need attention or are plugged for whatever reason. Emitter ends are easily replaced but do buy a brand that's been around for a while so you can get replacement parts.

You can also add an automatic timer to the system, either at the end where you pump the water from or at the top of the hill - really doesn't matter. You can choose between an electric one you can set for several times a week or a manual one which is cheaper but must be reset before every use. It'll run up to 6 hours depending on the brand, then snap shut until reset. The automatic is programmed and will keep working until you unplug it (requires power).

In this link:http://www.leevalley.com/en/home/OnlineCatalog.aspx?id=4e7b8aed

Grid D might work for you, with secondary lines along the length going around each tree. Emitters can be pegged into place so they don't move but they mustn't be covered with soil as they quickly jam up. Loose mulch is a better choice.

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Swing Swang

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Re: Irrigation system for trees
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2011, 17:37 »
You're in France (?), land of small scale agriculture - Look around, see what the neighbours do, invite them round for a calvados, and get the information from a local.

SS

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MarkinFrance

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Re: Irrigation system for trees
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2011, 09:21 »
Hi Trillium, thank you for that....I think I'll need to go down the polypropelene semi rigid pipe route and then T off....Looks like I'll need to build a couple of plinthes to put my water tanks on.
Sadly Swing Swang.... France is no longer the land of small scale producers, maybe it will be again one day, but right now it's only the larger farmers who are making a good living, all the small farms have gone. My neighbour on one side farms beef on a large scale and have taken out all the hedges and mature oak trees (THEY DON'T RE-PLANT EITHER) on the other side is a distant farmer who has abandonned his small flock of sheep and the only person who looks after them is a very eccentric French lady in her mid 70s who is forever asking me for hay....The Limousin is a very poor area and most locals have long left their land and sold their fallen down farm houses to us ex-pats!
Please keep any ideas coming. Mark

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Swing Swang

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Re: Irrigation system for trees
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2011, 14:14 »
@MiF quel domage, c'est plus triste

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Trillium

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Re: Irrigation system for trees
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2011, 20:17 »
Mark, are the trees newly planted or an existing orchard?

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MarkinFrance

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Re: Irrigation system for trees
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2011, 07:05 »
Hi Trillium,
The trees were planted in December 2008, so have been in the ground a little of 2 years, they were planted "dry" ie not watered in so that they sought water themselves by growing more roots. They were not staked either. This has worked and I didn't lose a single tree. Over the last 2 summers I needed to water them to keep them alive, I wasn't looking to take any fruit for cider for 4/5 years (I pick off any fruit before it grows too big) but I feel that as apples are mostly water I need to give my trees more water during the summer months.

I thank you for the lead you sent me and also found another North American company which supplies a product which might suit....I just need to know if they'll ship to Europe or whether there is a simalar product in the UK.....buying it in France is just too expensive.

Does anyone know this product and whether it's available in the UK? (see link below)

http://www.irrigationdirect.com/irrigation-products-and-supplies/drip-irrigation/drip-irrigation-kits/gravity-feed-kits/gravity-feed-drip-irrigation-kit-for-clean-water-starter 

Thank you
Mark

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Trillium

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Re: Irrigation system for trees
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2011, 21:12 »
Glad the link gave you some idea of what I was trying to explain.

Another technique that is useful but might be a bit late for you is at planting time, some folk set a semi-rigid piece of piping all around the lower circumference of the planting hole (bottom end is plugged to prevent soil getting in) and  a top length is left to protrude just above ground and soil filled into the hole. Before setting in the piping, holes were drilled in many places along the pipe length. When you need to water, you'd connect a hose end to the top bit and water will leak right down to the root areas where needed most.

I tried an old garden hose but found it too narrow in diameter so next time I would use a piece of 2" poly tubing with holes drilled. Too late now for your needs but if you're planting more trees, something to consider.

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joyfull

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Re: Irrigation system for trees
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2011, 21:26 »
Hozelock do a gravity drip system - not sure if they would be of any help to you - perhaps drop them an email:-

http://www.easywatering.co.uk/acatalog/Drip_Irrigation_Systems.html
Staffies are softer than you think.

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MarkinFrance

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Re: Irrigation system for trees
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2011, 07:16 »
Hi Joyfull,
Thank you for the link to Hozelock (The MDPE they sell is 2/3 times that price here in France, but I can get it shipped over). I think I need to do a plan and send them a copy to ask what they recommend.
Mark.

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Trillium

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Re: Irrigation system for trees
« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2011, 17:03 »
In the end it just might be worth making a trip to the UK to pick it up.

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MarkinFrance

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Re: Irrigation system for trees
« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2011, 18:59 »
Hi Trillium,
I've asked Hozelock for advice....after following joyfull's idea - we'll see if they respond.
Certainly the North American systems looks cheaper, but I've yet to get a reply from them.
About par for the course for customer services these days.
Mark



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