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Agric. sci. dev., Vol(3), No (6), June, 2014. pp.

205-208

TI Journals

Agriculture Science Developments


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ISSN:
2306-7527
Copyright 2014. All rights reserved for TI Journals.

Field Evaluation of Emission Uniformity for Trickle Irrigation Systems


(Case Study: Sattarkhan Irrigation Network)
Susan Valiahary
Postgraduate student, Department of Water Engineering, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Tabriz, Iran

Ali Ashraf Sadraddini*


Department of Water Engineering, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Tabriz, Iran

Amir Hossein Nazemi


Department of Water Engineering, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Tabriz, Iran

Abolfazl Majnooni-Heris
Department of Water Engineering, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Tabriz, Iran
*Corresponding author: alisadraddini@yahoo.com

Keywords

Abstract

Drip irrigation
Evaluation
Emission uniformity
Irrigation

One of the most important issues in each irrigation system especially in drip irrigation system is field
evaluation, which helps better management and extension of the life-cycle of the system. In this study, fivedrip irrigation systems were chosen in Sattarkhan irrigation network and the emission uniformities of them
were evaluated. Four located lateral pipes, at the beginning, one-third, two thirds and at the end of a chosen
manifold pipe for testing, were selected in each system. Dripper discharge and pressure were measured at the
beginning and at the end of the mentioned lateral pipes in the test Manifolds of the all five systems. Also,
the minimum lateral inlet pressure at each manifold was measured. Emission uniformity of the systems
(EUs) varied within the range of 48.13 to 82.8, so based on this index its performance was classified poor to
good. In general, reasons for the systems low performances were identified as inappropriate distribution of
the pressure, excessive differences of the measured pressures overall the systems, poor quality and blockage
of the emitters, low skills of irrigators and poor operation management of the systems.

1.

Introduction

Due to the decreasing availability of water resources and the increasing competition for water among residential, industrial, and agricultural
sectors, increasing irrigation efficiency, by methods as drip irrigation systems, is a pressing concern for agricultural authorities [3]. Drip
irrigation is defined like the slow, frequent application of small volumes of irrigation water to the base or root zone of plants [12].
Development of this system is inevitable in near future because of its high water savings, friendship of environment, suitability for most crops
with frequent and uniform applications of water, and also its adaptability over a wide range of topographic and soil conditions [1]. Drip irrigation
system is widely spread as it can be used safely for most soil types; besides it has high theoretical application efficiency. The use of drip
irrigation has been increased in most crop commodities, especially vegetable and fruit crops, to improve water use efficiency [2] and water
supply [11]. Nowadays how uniform is the distribution of water on land surface is accepted as one of the key criteria for evaluating irrigation
system performance [14]. Evaluation is the analysis of any irrigation system based on measurements taken in the field under the conditions and
practices normally used [6]. Irrigation uniformity is the most important indicator for evaluation of the irrigation system performance [5] and is
affected by the field topography, hydraulic design of drip system as well as level of partial or complete clogging [7; 15]. The evaluation of an
operating irrigation system aims understanding of the systems adequacy and determination of the necessary procedures for improving the
systems performance [10]. It is recommended that evaluation should be carried out soon after the systems establishment, and periodically
repeated, especially when considering systems, due to their sensitivity to operational conditions along the time [4]. Topak et al. [13] reported that
EU varied from 41% (poor or unacceptable) to 92% (perfect or good), in a study conducted to evaluate trickle irrigation system performance in
Antalya Province of Turkey. The main problems detected were poor system design and emitters clogging within systems. The outcoming
situation was consequence of poor design and insufficiency in maintenance and repair works of the system. Ortega et al. [9] tested 100 systems
and found the EU as an average of 82% while the measured uniformity of emission in the test-subunit was 84%. This apparent difference was
related to low working pressure of the system which in turn was due to low efficiency of pumping stations and distribution networks, lack of
cleaning filters and head losses. A study was conducted to evaluate under pressure irrigation systems in southern region of Khorasan, East of
Iran. The study aimed to determine efficiency quantities of these systems, and effective factors in reducing efficiency, and also to present proper
approaches to increase the efficiency. Results showed that average parameter related to emission uniformity of trickle irrigation systems was
68%. Based on the results of trickle irrigation system evaluation, the blockage of outlets due to floating materials deposition and inaccurate
function of filtration system was the main reasons of considerable reduction in water emission uniformity and system efficiency. According to
the results for trickle irrigation system and drippers, adjusting pressure of manifolds was recommended, which could improve system efficiency
[8]. The main objective of this study was to evaluate the emission uniformity and to investigate the effects of the field conditions on the end
results obtained and also to present proper approaches for increasing the efficiency.

2.

Methodology

This study was carried out during the periods May-June 2013 on five trickle irrigation systems at Sattarkhan irrigation network in East
Azerbaijan Province (northwest of Iran), which is located between the 46 53 East longitude and 38 28 North latitude, and the average altitude
above the sea level is 1500 m.

Susan Valiahary, Ali Ashraf Sadraddini *, Amir Hossein Nazemi, Abolfazl Majnooni-Heris

206

Agriculture Science Developments Vol(3), No (6), June, 2014.

For evaluation, 5 trickle irrigation systems in Sattarkhan irrigation network were randomly selected. The evaluations have been carried out
according to method of Merriam and Keller (1978). In all of the evaluated trickle systems in apple orchards, double lateral systems with MicroFlapper drippers were established. Some of the specifications of the evaluated systems are presented in Table 1.
Table 1. Some specifications of the evaluated systems

Orchard or irr.
sys. code
f1
f2
f3
f4
f5

Orchard area
(ha)
32.7
20.33
74.42
20.98
32.5

e: Emitter number per plant

Spaces Between
plants,(m)
5*6
5*6
5*6
5*6
5*6
T: Irrigation duration

Plant age
(year)
6
6
8
8
8

T (hr)
16
16
14
14
14

F : Irrigation interval

e
(day)
7
7
7
7
7

6
6
6
6
6

d
(cm)
120
120
120
120
120

d: Emitters spacing

In order to carry out the evaluation process, one manifold from each of the studied systems was randomly selected then four laterals along this
monifold were chosen and their emitter discharges were measured at four points along each lateral (totally 16 control points for a manifold). This
means that 16 apple trees were under irrigation in the selected control points (Fig.1.). Two emitters of the 6 assigned emitters to each tree were
evaluated at all of the control points.

Figure 1. Layout of control points in the test manifold

The discharged flow rates of the two emitters at every control points were determined by measuring the volumes of outflow from the emitters in
15 minutes, using a graduated cylinder. Also pressure heads at the beginning and end of the lateral pipes were measured by a precisely calibrated
gauge. By measuring the inlet pressures of the all laterals of each system, the minimum lateral inlet pressure at each manifold was identified.
According to the usual approaches in trickle irrigation systems, the criteria applied to characterize the irrigation uniformity were as follows:
a- Test Emission Uniformity (EU ):
EU (%) = % 100
(1)
Where q% is the average discharge of 25% of the emitters having the lowest outflow ( ) and q is the average discharge (
emitters, which are supplied by a manifold
b- Efficiency Reduction Factor (ERF) can be computed from the minimum lateral inlet pressure (MLIP) along each manifold by:
ERF =

) of the all

(2)

Where MLIP is the average of the MLIP values of the all manifolds in a system.
MLIP
is the minimum inlet pressure of the lateral in a system (m).
c- System Emission Uniformity (EUs).
EU = ERF EU
The evaluated system was classified using the Merriam and Keller (1978) proposed criterion (EUs) values, as shown in Table 2.
Table 2. System classifications according to Emission Uniformity values

EUs %

Evaluation

90% or greater
80-90%
70-80%
Less than 70%

Excellent
Good
Fair
Poor

(3)

207

Field Evaluation of Emission Uniformity for Trickle Irrigation Systems (Case Study: Sattarkhan Irrigation Network)
Agriculture Science Developments Vol(3), No (6), June, 2014.

3.

Results and Discussion

In trickle irrigation by increasing the emission uniformity, the efficiency of the system increases. Three important factors namely the system
operation pressure, emitter physical properties and its blocking potential usually affect the uniformity of the applied water. So more attention has
been paid for them in this study.
The calculated EUs values of the five evaluated systems are presented in Table 3. The EU values varied from 48.13% to 82.8% depending on
the tested system specifications. According to Merriam and Kellers (1978) classification, the water distribution of the system qualitative class
varied from poor to good.
Table 3. Emission uniformity and water distribution class

Orchard
code
f1
f2
f3
f4
f5
Average

(l/h)
4.17
3.23
4.57
4.58
4.16
4.14

(l/h)
4.65
4.33
5.22
5.04
5.21
4.89

ERF
(%)
92
92
55
68
66
74.6

(%)
90
74.77
87.5
91.05
79.85
84.63


(%)
82.8
68.79
48.13
61.91
52.7
62.87

Classification by Merriam and


Keller (1978)
Good
Poor
Poor
Poor
Poor
Poor

The two effective factors on variation of the water pressure in trickle irrigation system are the pressure head loss and the field topography. The
pressure head loss of the filtration system, the pressure at the inlet and end of the test laterals, also the percentage of the head losses in each
manifold are presented in Table 4. There were considerable differences between the input and output pressures of the laterals at the orchards f3
and f5. The higher differences observed in the first laterals of the test manifolds and were decreased toward the end laterals, still those
differences remained significant at the end laterals. This was due to non-uniform topography, high differences between elevations of the two
ends of laterals and also excessive length of the laterals. As it is seen in Table 4. The computed pressure head loss percentage in all the manifolds
except for the system f1, were 50% or more, which exceeded than the allowable (around 20% depending on the desired EU) pressure head losses
in trickle system. Existence of different pressures in manifolds was the cause of inappropriate distribution of the pressure and poor emission
uniformity. According to the system design, regulation of the pressure should be done at the beginning of the manifolds by hand controlling of
the insulation valves, instead of installation an automatic pressure regulator. Usually owners of agricultural lands as the end users were fully
opening these insulation valves to receive the maximum possible water. Hence poor management of the system and hand setting of the relevant
accessories have been resulted in further malfunctioning of the system. Using automatic pressure regulators especially in the inlet of those
manifolds that have an excessive amount of pressure may improve the performance of the system and is highly recommended. Excessive
pressure heads in the studied system were generally produced due to high differences in elevations of the different parts of the system. This
implied that the existence of excessive pressures in some part of the studied systems was inevitable, but producing a desirable emission
uniformity was achievable if an accurate design of the system and the use of some suitable equipments for adjusting the pressure heads hah been
provided before the installation of the system.
Emitters are the most important parts of a trickle irrigation system. The emitters set on the laterals of the studied systems were Micro-Fulpper
marked compensating emitters for producing a fixed discharge of 4 liters per hour within the pressure head range of 10 to 35 m. But the
performance of the emitters with considerable variation of the emitted water did not confirm their compensating properties. This might be
resulted in for several reasons as: a) imprecise manufacturing of the emitters, b) emitter clogging due to precipitation and sedimentation inside
the pipes and emitters, c) clogging due to deposits on the outside of emitters (resulted from evaporation), d) unskillfully handling of the emitters
by end users (for more water withdrawal), e) clogging due to the suction of water and soil into the emitters (this phenomenon occurs when
negative relative pressure head is produced in some parts of the system due to pump station shut-down). The last Phenomenon can be eliminated
by use of a anti-siphon type emitter.
Table 4. The distribution pressure in different places of the evaluated trickle systems

orchard
code

Filter
Pressure
Loss (m)

F1
F2
F3
F4
F5

2
1
2
2
6

Pressure on tested Laterals (m)


1
Inlet
2
2
7
4
13

2
Outlet
3
0
15
5
15

Inlet
2
2
13
10
14

3
Outlet
5
2
17
9
14

Inlet
6
3
9
15
9

4
Outlet
6
2
10
14
11

Inlet
7
3
4
13
2

Outlet
9
2
4
12
7

D
(%)
25
50
>50
>50
>50

D: Pressure differences throughout the studied operating manifolds

4.

Conclusion

The value of EU in all of the systems was evaluated good but EU only in one of the systems had good performance and the other systems
performances were poor. Topak et al [13] tested 11 systems and found the EU as an average of 80%. This value was 62.87% in this study.
The most important problems detected were caused by an excessive variation of pressure within the manifolds of block.
For better improvement of the system, following recommendations may be considered:
- Installation of the automatic pressure regulators at the inlet of manifolds instead of the existence insulation valves.
- End users training for the proper operation and maintenance of the system.

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