Class Helps Staff With Micro-Irrigation Plans

Staff inspecting irrigation componentsFrom left: Jason DiBattista, left, and Jeff Toth inspect irrigation systems at the District’s headquarters in Brooksville. Center: Kris Miller, a tradesworker in the Tampa service office, checks a microjet. Right: Steve Noble, a tradesworker in the Sarasota service office, inspects a conversion manifold filter.

More District tradesworkers are versed in micro-irrigation technology after attending a training course in Tampa.

Tradesworkers and other staff from the District’s Brooksville and service offices recently attended the Florida Irrigation Society’s “Low-Volume Irrigation” course at the District’s Tampa Service Office.

Jeff Toth and Jason DiBattista, District tradesworkers at the Brooksville office, attended the class and are working on plans to convert as much of the irrigation system as possible from conventional to low-volume.

Jeff Toth, a landscaper by trade, said that careful planning in landscape design supports low-volume irrigation design.

“When we lay out a bed of plants, we group plants that have similar water needs,” said Toth. “We don’t want to put a plant that needs lots of water right next to a plant that likes it dry and hot. While planning the design, we think about how we’re going to irrigate and maintain the plants.”

The advantages of low-volume irrigation systems are great. But, according to DiBattista, whose background is plumbing, planning is essential to making these systems work.

“With conventional systems, a sprinkler covers a wide area,” said DiBattista. “With low-volume systems, each plant may get its own drip supply or bubbler. Where are the plants located? How much water does each plant need? Are there plants nearby with different water needs? Does the plant need a drip tube, or a bubbler or a mister? You have to map all that out before you install your system.”

Low-volume systems are more complex than conventional systems, and they have more components to install.

“The smaller tubing and other parts of the low-volume systems clog more easily than conventional systems,” said DiBattista. “There are screens for large particles and filters on the supply lines that we have to install with the systems. There are screens on some of the outlets. They aren’t optional.”

DiBattista said that maintenance is another issue. Low-volume systems need regular upkeep.

“Bugs like to crawl into the tubing where it’s cool and damp,” said DiBattista. “And the small parts are more fragile than conventional systems. We’ll try to install the systems farther away from the edges of sidewalks to help protect them.”

“We already have micro-irrigation at the service offices,” said Mark Leytze, District facilities and construction services manager, “and we’re planning on installing more. Any time we change out turf, we go to Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ and micro-irrigation to save water. We have to practice what we preach.”