Aboveground water systems are an efficient tool for delivering water from reliable sources to pastures.

“Recently, there have been some changes in manufacturing and suppliers that are worthy to note as producers and suppliers design systems,” says Pete Bauman, South Dakota State University extension range field specialist.

In SDSU’s newsletter, iGrow, Bauman says that flexible aboveground pipe is made of high-density polyethylene and is usually rated at 160 psi (pounds per square inch). This material is tough and can withstand being driven over by lighter vehicles. Pipe size can vary, depending on application. In South Dakota, 1 inch to 2 inches is popular.

Aboveground systems also offer components, including T’s, elbows, valves, drain ports, and other compression fittings with large threaded collars designed to be installed by hand. This allows for efficient coupling and decoupling of components. Compression fittings are typically rated at 200 psi.

SDSU extension recently assisted with an aboveground pasture pipe installation project. During this project, there was difficulty getting the fittings to connect. Therefore, they tapered the pipe ends and liberally applied soapy water to reduce friction between the pipe and O-rings in the compression fittings. Even with these preparations, the installation was difficult.

“The difficulty putting this system together was uncommon,” Bauman says.

It was found that the supplier provided pipe that was designed based on inside tolerance, whereas the compression fittings were based on outside tolerance. The slight variations in thickness of the pipe wall affected the outer pipe diameter, resulting in the fittings being difficult to install. For pipe that is manufactured based on inside tolerance, there can be variation in outside diameter.

Rick Smith, owner of PastureWorks in Hayti, S.D., cautions producers and installers to pay attention to the type of pipe they purchase and design their system components accordingly. Pipe can be made to inside or outside diameter tolerances.

“Both can work, but it is important to know what type of pipe has been ordered so the correct couplers are purchased to match the pipe,” Bauman says.

Price differentials for inside versus outside tolerance pipes and compression fittings can be significant.

Bauman suggests asking these questions of your supplier before purchasing because some of the new fittings on the market from different manufacturers aren’t universal.

Sydney Sleep

Sydney Sleep was the 2016 Hay & Forage Grower summer editorial intern and is a junior at South Dakota University.