Weather trends are becoming unpredictable by the day due to climate change. Water has become a scarce resource and most farmers are adopting modern irrigation methods. These include drip irrigation, sprinkler irrigation, and splash irrigation. To support the irrigation system, various irrigation fittings are used to complement piping and ensure that water is efficiently distributed to the soil. Different types of irrigation use different fittings.
Irrigation fittings are made from galvanized stainless steel, aluminum, and PVC components. Stainless steel and aluminum fittings are used with galvanized steel threaded pipes and are available like valves, elbows, bends, plugs, among others. They are mostly characterized by toughness and durability in order to withstand pressure changes in pipes. They are manufactured with screw-type joints, male and female.
Pvc fittings are the most common in irrigation. They are connected to plastic pipes and come in three main modifications; lock connector fittings, barbed type fitting, and compression type fitting. They are pocket-friendly to acquire, maintain and replace, very strong and light in weight, can be manipulated into various shapes and sizes, and don’t corrode and clog.
Irrigation fittings come in different shapes, sizes, and designs depending on their functions. The mainline valve is the closest component to the water source. It can be a gate valve, ball valve, or a faucet, whose primary function is to manually open and close water flow in the irrigation system. Secondary valves can be installed along the irrigation system after the main valve but not in place of the main valve.
A backflow prevention system is required in an irrigation system to prevent irrigation water from being siphoned back to the water source in case of a sudden loss of pressure. A simple check valve might be required to do the job but, in some cases, safer methods such as anti-siphon valves or pressure vacuum breakers might be installed.
Filters must also be installed in the mainline to prevent clogging of the emitters. This is an essential component and must be installed regardless of the water source. There are two types of filters, screen filters, and disc filters. Screen filters have a mesh size that ranges between 50 to 200 pores per inch. Disc filters consist of a stack of closely packed disks. For an irrigation system to operate effectively, filters must be regularly cleaned or flushed.
Irrigation systems are designed to operate with a pressure range of 10 to 30psi but water from the source can exceed 30psi. High pressure can damage point source emitters and destroy drip lines or other components. Therefore, a pressure regulator should be installed if water is delivered through pumping from the source. Its main function is to regulate the pressure of water to the required PSI by simply turning a bolt on the regulator.
Downstream off the mainline, the header pipe distributes water directly to the lateral pipes. Additional manual or electronic solenoid valves can be installed at strategic location in the system. Zoning is needed if the available water is insufficient to separate plants with different water requirements so that each plant type can receive the appropriate amounts of water. End caps or footer lines can be used at the end of the lateral line.
Various plastic fittings are used in joining pipes and lines. Barbed fittings fit inside the lines and are held together using steel clamps and compression fittings fit tightly to the outside of lines. To prevent leakage at threaded joints, all-male threads should be wrapped (clockwise while facing thread end) with a couple of layers of Teflon tapes before assembly.
Irrigation fittings control the flow of water through the interconnection of different pipes and lines and this has enabled water to be used efficiently in irrigation. This helps in controlling soil erosion.