HYDRAULIC ANALYSIS OF DRIP LATERALS WITH INSIDE WELDED PRESSURE COMPENSATING DRIPPERS
Lately, the drip irrigation systems built with pressure compensating (PC) drippers (emitters) inside welded in the drip laterals, find more and more application in Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece and other countries having well-developed irrigation-based agriculture, especially where the ground is not flat but rather is of hilly nature. The main advantage of these systems is the provision of uniform flow rate along the laterals and batteries (blocks) in the whole drip systems irrespectively of the alteration of the operating pressure, and, besides, this allows long laterals to be designed. The recommended operating pressure starts from 0.5 – 1.0 atm and reaches 4 – 5 atm. Reaching equal drip flow rate in these systems is realized thanks to an elastic membrane with fixed strength parameters, located at the outlet of the nozzles in a specially arranged bed (nest) for this purpose. The advertisement of the applications of those nozzles in the company catalogs is very intensive but is it true for all types of pressure compensating drippers? In laboratory conditions we carried out hydraulic tests of drip laterals with inside welded pressure compensating drippers, cylinder type, in order to find out the head losses along the drip lateral. The laterals were with a nominal outer diameter 16 mm, inner diameter 13.8 mm, thickness of the wall 1.1 mm and flow rate 2.1 l/h, at intervals of 33 cm between the drippers, with lengths 60, 80 and 100 m. The results showed considerable head losses, with great deviations from the ones obtained by analytic way through formulas. For example, in a 100 m long lateral, the losses reach 60 to 75% of the applied operating pressure at the beginning of the lateral. Some specific data from the tests – in case of inlet pressure of 18, 20 and 25 m, the head losses are respectively 12, 14 and 17 m which means that in case of flat ground and such with back slope it is almost impossible to realize a length of 100 m and more of the lateral. All drippers will not operate at the horizontal part of the curve “pressure-flow rate” but at the transitional part of this curve. It follows from this that irrespectively of the pressure compensating action of those nozzles, this type of laterals will hardly find application in real conditions in the design of an engineering project for drip irrigation respecting the admissible coefficients of the distribution uniformity of the irrigation water.
The same is valid for the other tested laterals as well. Sometimes, laying conventional type of laterals is more appropriate and brings better results. All this is due to the considerable minor head losses in those nozzles because of the sizable constriction of the cross section of the laterals by the nest (bed) of the membrane.
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Catalogs and brochures of companies – producers of drippers and drip laterals: Toro Ag – Italy (European catalog, 2014).
Celik1, H. K., Karayel, D., Lupeanu, M. E., Rennie, A. E. W., and Akinci, I. (2015). Determination of Head Losses in Drip Irrigation Laterals with Cylindrical In‑Line Type Emitters through CFD Analysis. Bulgarian Journal of Agricultural Science, 21 (No 3): pp. 703-710.
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