Implementing an irrigation system versus hand-watering your cannabis crops can certainly save time, but you also want to make sure you select an economical, efficient and environmentally friendly option. Here, Jain Irrigation Territory Sales Manager Michael Derewenko shares his tips for making the right irrigation choice for your cultivation operation.
1. What are some trends you are seeing in the cannabis market when it comes to irrigation?
The biggest trends are pressure-compensating (PC) manifolds and filters, especially the JAIN Octa-Bubbler and Spin Clean filter. PC ensures each plant gets the right amount of water with solid uniformity. The combination of a great PC manifold and easy-to-use filter is going to bring great consistency to a growers watering cycle.
2. What factors should cultivators consider when purchasing an irrigation system?
It’s best to have a professional install and design for your system. Chances are, you will spend more money trying to make it work the wrong way than getting it installed right the first time. Installers are going to look to a grower for a budget, and the next major variable is going to be an ideal plant layout. A good installer will present a grower with different distribution options to meet a budget.
3. What is the ideal water pressure level for an irrigation system?
Adjustable Pressure Pumps make things a lot easier. If pressure cannot be controlled at a pump level, we use pressure-compensating and pressure-regulating devices. Depending on the size of a drip system, we aim for 15-20psi. Larger, outdoor systems with long runs of PE may require 25-30psi. Any grower that needs more than 30psi should reconsider their zoning configuration.
4. How do different tubing materials differ from each other?
Vinyl, high-density vinyl and polyethylene are the most common tubing types used. While some would argue vinyl is more flexible, poor-quality vinyl degrades faster when exposed to UV. Some high-density vinyl is manufactured to resist any harmful chemicals that can embed in tubing walls. Virgin plastic is better for the environment because it is long-lasting. A grower will need to replace tubing made with regrind plastic a couple times before they would have to replace tubing made with virgin resin.
5. What are some tips to make an irrigation system last longer?
Avoiding water hammer is a good start. If your valves and system components are hammering or shaking when the system comes on or shuts off, odds are you are putting strain on the system. If possible, use your control valves’ flow control to make adjustments to flow or reconsider valve size and zone output.