This is irrigation pipe. They are 30' pieces of either aluminum or plastic. The most common sizes (determined by diameter) are 6", 8", and 10". They have a male and a female end, and slide together. Laying out pipe works best with 3 people - a driver, and a person on each end of the pipe. The size of pipe you use is determined by how much water your wells pump. We have some wells that pump 300-400 gallons a minute, so they get 6" pipe. The bigger pipe on top in this picture is 10", while the pipe on the bottom of the trailer is 8". The well that this pipe goes to probably puts out about 1,000 gallons of water a minute.
The above picture shows a well. I now realize that this was a bad well to take a picture of, because we had the motor off to get repaired. There is a pump attached to a motor with pulleys and belts. When the motor spins the pulleys, it pumps water.
This is what one piece of pipe attached to the well looks like. Sorry for the blurriness.
This is an up close look of the female end, known as the "bell". You can see a rubber gasket on the inside of the bell, which allows the pipes to seal so they don't leak water all over hell. You're probably wondering how we get the water down the row. Enter "gates" into the discussion.
There are gates every 20" on a piece of pipe. I'm too lazy to do the math, but if I remember right, that means there are 18 gates on every pipe. They slide open and closed. We run every other row when we irrigate, and we only run a certain number at a time, referred to as a "set". This also depends on how much water your well pumps. On the 300-400 gallon a minute well, you're looking at 10-15 gates a set. With this large pipe and good well, I'm guessing Dad runs 30-40 gates a set. We change sets every 12 hours or so - once around 6:30AM, and once around the same time in the PM. The third picture shows the pipe sitting on top of the ridges that I hilled last week. Our fields our leveled to run a certain direction, so once we open the gates, the water will run to the other end of the field, hence the term "gravity" irrigation. Here is a picture of a finished field:
And my favorite picture - an empty trailer:
The handsome fella in the pictures is my old man, Mike.
Questions? Fire away.