Commonly Ignored Irrigation System Costs-
Often times it’s easy to be led astray by persuasive sales tactics or lured by low price bids for your next development project. However, differences do exist and usually take form in the following ways:
1. Equipment Sizing
Pumps that are undersized are more expensive to operate and can wear out prematurely. Filtration that isn’t specified correctly for the application will become a maintenance and labor nightmare. Be sure to get the details of all equipment being installed from each supplier & compare carefully before signing.
2. Irrigation Runtimes
Aside from Distribution Uniformity (DU), irrigation runtimes are the second most important variable when it comes to irrigation system operating costs. Low application rates means all equipment is smaller — think pumps, filters, pipe, emitter spacing — but with a smaller upfront cost you’ll be committed to longer runtimes and higher operating costs for the life of the system. Further, you may be forced to run during expensive peak times and it’s not uncommon to see some systems requiring more than 24-hour runtime during peak ET.
3. Installation Quality
Despite good products and perfect design, poor implementation through questionable installation will create headaches over the lifetime of the system. The correct location and quantity of pressure relief valves, air vents, pressure regulating devices, and the presence of items like water treatment, flow meters & pressure gauges ensure the longevity of the system while reducing maintenance & repair costs.
4. Design Awareness
Having the proper knowledge and ability to produce an irrigation design that is uniform, efficient and relevant for your farming practice requires experience & knowledge. Request that you get to know your designer; ask questions to ensure the system will meet your specific needs & farming practices.
Qualified designers are limited: there are ten Irrigation Association Certified Irrigation Designers (CID) with Drip/Micro specialty working at the dealer level in the state of California.
Find an IA Certified Professional here.
Why Does It Matter?
Operating costs can add up quickly and despite the industry’s awareness of these rising costs, they are largely forgotten when it matters most: choosing a qualified dealer to install an adequate irrigation system.
A well-designed irrigation system with correctly specified components that is installed by industry experts should be cost effective throughout the life of the system while helping growers make money.
If you need impartial guidance or would like evaluations of existing irrigation proposals, please reach out to me so we can connect before your next project. It’s not up to a grower to understand irrigation design concepts, but it’s imperative they partner with dealers they can trust.