open access


Clogging is a serious problem in drip irrigation, especially when using saline groundwater; this may cause uneven water distribution. However, efficient and environmentally friendly methods are rarely available for mitigating clogging. In the present study, an innovative and environmentally friendly technology using ultrasonic waves within radio frequency without the use of chemicals to treat emitter clogging, is evaluated. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the chronological changes in the emitter flow rate and to evaluate the effect of ultrasonic (US) water treatments on solving the problem of emitter clogging in the field. The performance of the drip irrigation system is tested by measuring the emitter discharge and estimating the average emitter discharge (qav), the manufacturer coefficient of variation (CVm), the distribution uniformity of the lowest quarter (DUlq), the application efficiency (AE) and the Christiansen uniformity coefficient (CUC). The results showed that the qav for the emitters improved from 3.37 l/h before treatment to 4.1 l/h after 180 h of US irrigation water treatment. The DUlq and the AE of the drip irrigation system were respectively 76.7% and 69.1% before treatment, due to the presence of salts in the groundwater, which caused emitter clogging. After 180 hours of US water treatment, DUlq and AE improved to respectively 90.3% and 81.3%. This improvement led to saving about 15% of the daily irrigation water. This study showed that ultrasonic water treatment is highly effective as chemical-free treatment method with great potential for preventing emitters clogging in drip irrigation systems, and could be further promoted in drip irrigation with saline groundwater.

Keywords: clogging, drip, irrigation, emitter, saline groundwater, Ultrasonic