Netafim FlexNet and Rivulis H6000 are two products that were created based solely off of feedback from farmers and growers. For this reason, these products directly address many of the issues experienced by agricultural professionals using Layflat and Oval Hose as their drip manifold sub-main lines. From leaking fittings, difficult transport, disruption during pressurization, labor costs, to repairs and storage, Flexnet and H6000 directly confront these concerns. Layflat hose was originally conceived as a pump discharge hose; though it became common to use as a drip manifold, it was not originally intended for this purpose and some of the problems experienced using it in this application are what led to the feedback that eventually saw the creation of sub-main lines like FlexNet and H6000. These products were not concocted to fabricate a need where none existed, they were created to rectify problems that had troubled growers for years.
During peak summer heat, it is common for ambient temperatures to climb over 100° F. This means the temperature in direct sunlight would be even higher. Black Oval Hose and dark colored tubing and pipe exposed to direct sunlight in these conditions can become extraordinarily hot; this in turn heats the water inside to such a degree that it may harm the very crop it is meant to hydrate. Water temperatures as high as 120° to 140° are not unheard of in these conditions. Oval Hose can and often is buried for this reason, however this requires additional labor hours, both to bury and then exhume at the end of the season. It is never recommended to bury Layflat
FlexNet and H6000 are both white in color which causes much of the light to be reflected instead of absorbed. Darker colors absorb the light and convert it to heat, lighter colors reflect the light. These products are UV treated, so not only is there a benefit to significantly cooler temperatures within the pipe, but there is the same low-risk of UV degradation. No longer do complicated design decisions have to be made to ensure the drip manifold is completely shaded, and no longer do budgets have to stretch to add labor to ensure the drip manifold is buried. FlexNet and H6000 can both be used in surface applications where exposure to direct sunlight is inevitable. When subsurface application is required, they can be buried with the same low risk enjoyed by other hoses and pipes used as drip manifolds. FlexNet has been used in applications that require burying as far as 3 meters. This flexibility allows the design to focus more on efficiency and less on superfluous concerns.
Twisting and Elongation
The first pressurization of a drip manifold is always an apprehensive moment for growers, particularly when using Layflat. In addition to the possibility of leaking fittings, it is very common for the line to twist, snake, elongate, and in some cases even rotate. This destroys hours worth of effort spent to ensure good outlet alignment and precise placement.
Seeing your carefully laid manifold line go from this:
To this can unsettle even the most experienced grower.
FlexNet and H6000 do not experience these problems. When pressurized, whether it is the first or hundredth time, they are much more likely to remain securely in place. Not only does this save valuable time, but it also saves the costs associated with the need for frequent scrutiny and maintenance when the manifold is thrown into disarray with pressurization. This type of movement associated with pressurization can also wear on the material, shortening its lifespan. The possible elongation is also a concern given the precise sizes of fittings and clamps; FlexNet and H6000 state they suffer from no axial elongation.
FlexNet and H6000 feature pipe threaded outlets that create secure, leak-free connections to your emitter line rows. By contrast, other sub-main hoses and pipes require special cutters, difficult to insert fittings, punches and special insertion tools to connect the emitter line. These threaded outlets are integral welded (FlexNet) or mold-injected (H6000) directly to the sub-main, no time spent cutting or punching is necessary. These outlets provides secure, durable connections that require significantly less maintenance and the lost time that results. In addition, this means that any pipe threaded fitting will be compatible with the outlet. Rivulis’ H6000 takeoff fittings do not even require teflon tape.
FlexNet and H6000 experiences less leaking at the takeoff point than any other drip manifold currently on the market. This means less time and money spent on repairing leaks and more time optimizing the system for a successful crop. A factor not often considered is weed growth. Fewer leaks at the takeoffs means fewer weeds; fewer weeds means less labor hours spent dealing with them.
FlexNet and H6000 are available with a nearly endless variety of outlet spacing options, including the row spacing of commonly grown commercial crops. One of the most important features to growers is their ability to handle almost any row spacing. Custom row spacings are available and can even include skip spacing. Skip spacing is uneven outlet spacing; this allows them to accommodate almost any row spacing. The illustration below is an example of custom skip spacing:
By default, Netafim produces FlexNet with the following standard row spacings available: 30”, 36”, 40”, 60”, 72” and 80”.
While there are common row spacings for most crops, it must be mentioned that these are by no means rules that apply in every situation. Optimal row spacing is determined by many factors, such as insects, weeds, soil types, desired yield, disease and many other variables. Research is always ongoing to study the effects of wider or narrower (or even skip) row spacing. In the chart below are common row spacings for various crops, but do keep in mind these many not be optimal for your crop or location; note that several crops are in more than one category depending on the common row spacing range. As an example, 85% of corn growers use 30” spacing between rows; this could lead one to conclude that 30” spacing is optimal for all corn grows, however that statistic means 15% of corn farmers use a different spacing and are not necessarily farming sub-optimally. Always consider as many variables as possible when planning your row spacing.
If your project requires skip or custom spacing be sure to plan well in advance; while skip spacing (and custom spacing) is available from the manufacturer, the lead time is approximately 120 days.
Transportation, Storage and Associated Costs
FlexNet and H6000 are both significantly lighter than Layflat and Oval Hose. This results in significantly lower transportation, storage and labor costs. Depending on the size, FlexNet and H6000 weigh up to 66% less than a comparable roll of Layflat. A standard 328’ roll of 4” FlexNet or H6000 weighs about 59 lbs; a 328’ roll of 4” Layflat averages about 155 lbs. At smaller sizes, the difference in weight is still profound, with FlexNet and H6000 weighing about 50% as much.
The infographic below illustrates these factors much better than can be described. The difference between shipping and storage for a comparable length truly needs to be seen to be appreciated:
One of the primary factors that determines transportation costs is weight. At 50% less weight (minimum) this means that at least 50% more FlexNet or H6000 can be transported for the same cost, even more for the larger sizes. Not only does this make transport costs lower, but the labor and equipment costs associated with laying the line and recoiling the line at the end of the season are lower as well. FlexNet and H6000 are up to four times faster to install and recoil, significantly lowering labor time involved with these necessary tasks.
Despite the lower weight of these products, they still enjoy compelling durability. When not pressurized it is acceptable to drive vehicles over it so long as unplugged outlets are avoided. Note: This should still be avoided except when it is absolutely necessary to move equipment over it. While it is durable enough, damage is still possible.
One of the advantages these products have is that they use the same fittings that
Layflat of corresponding size does. This means if you have used Layflat in the past and still have couplers, tees, plugs and elbows from that installation, they will not be wasted. In fact, in many cases the fittings will make a better fit with FlexNet or H6000 than Layflat due to elongation, particularly in long term use; for this reason, do not throw out your old Layflat fittings and clamps. For optimal, leak free use, be sure the clamp butts up against the fitting.
The outlets on FlexNet and H6000 are ½” female pipe threaded; this means
compatible fittings and takeoffs are easy to find and widely available. Any ½” male pipe thread to tape fitting will be compatible; note that when using pipe to tape fittings with FlexNet teflon is recommended unless using Netafim branded pipe to tape fittings.
The takeoff fittings are easy to use and do not require additional tools such as a cutting tool, a hex installation tool or the time associated with cutting the holes and installing the fittings; simply thread the fitting into the outlet and attach the tape to the barbs. The takeoff fittings are available in both 90° elbows and tees to meet the needs of almost any situation. These fittings experience significantly fewer leaks than Layflat teardrop drop and Oval Hose barbed takeoffs. This translates into fewer weeds, less mud, and less maintenance.
Netafim, the manufacture of FlexNet, does offer special fittings that come with clamps that can be used with FlexNet; these fittings are durable and long lasting compared to standard PVC fittings. In addition to this, they recommend using a coupler when an extra outlet is needed. Simply drill a hole in the exposed portion of the coupler and use the correct sized tap to create a ½” female threaded outlet. Netafim’s FlexNet specific fittings, including Pipe x Tape takeoffs can be seen at this link: FlexNet Sub-Main Pipe Fittings and Takeoffs.
Much of this guide has focused on the many ways these products keep costs lower. While the initial cost is more, the savings add up significantly over time. It is estimated that FlexNet and H6000 cost up to 50% less than competing products over 5 years. For long term planning and use, these offer the greatest return on investment. With labor costs increasing every year it is important to take steps to reduce labor costs and this is where FlexNet and H6000 offer the greatest benefit. While transportation costs are lower due to lighter weight, it is the maintenance time, installation and recoiling time that really reduces manpower hours, and thus labor costs, compared to competing products. Couple this with more reliable performance and fewer leaks and the savings in water usage adds up as well. If keeping long term costs under control while improving crop yields is your goal, FlexNet of H6000 are great choices.
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