Southern Exposure Farm - Solar Irrigation Project 2009



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I have a 5500 sq ft commercial veggie garden and a 15,000 gal pond that is 300 ft downslope (about 10 ft vertical elevation). I have purchased drip irrigation components and can individually water 1000 plants in 4 zones. I am using a Dankoff (now Conergy) Solar Pump model SlowPump 1303-12 with a Conergy LCB 8a Controller. This controller accepts 12,24,48 volts from PV and regulates 12v out to the pump giving up current for voltage to maintain 12v in low light (cloudy) conditions. The PV Panel is a 130w Kyocera. In full sun the current from the PV will drive the pump to produce 120 ft of head. Since I only have 10 ft of head (vertical rise) the rest is converted into 20psi of pressure needed to run the drip heads (5psi min needed).

Update: May 10 - Pump House Installed, Commercial Garden Hose up hill to Garden. Manifold and main feed lines installed into four zones. To match the flow rate of the pump, each zone will be run separately for about half an hour. Deer Fence added to protect the 'good stuff' like lettuce and other leafy morsels considered 'Bambi Desert'.

Update: May 26 - East and West Garden areas have been enclosed with 4 ft fencing topped with a Solar Electric Fence Wire (a pulsed 6v system putting out 3000 volts). All garden areas have been planted and now the weeding begins. Irrigation System is working superbly running each zone one at a time. Total heads: 822, largest number in a zone: 248 and I'm still getting at least 10psi and 2gpm flow rate. Each head is .5gph so a half hour run is a quart of water per plant or group of plants.

Update: May 31 - Pond water is pretty much stagnant and always gets an algae bloom which has been clogging up the pump filters. I added some 'friendly' bacteria and enzymes to help clear up the algae. Decided to aerate to help oxygenate and mix up the water to keep algae at a minimum. Stand alone solar bubblers and fountains are outrageously expensive, so I tapped off of the pump output and after garden watering, divert the flow to a PVC Standpipe that shoots out a fountain stream into the middle of the pond.

Update: 2010 - Algae is actually like a lubricant (especially the planktonic type which I have) so I have removed all filters downstream of the pump and it has been running just fine without having to constantly check and clean the fine mesh bronze filter in the pump. Pump now irrigates outdoor garden and replinishes water in Geodesic Dome tank and 55 gal watering kegs. Just added a splitter at the outdoor garden drip irrigation manifold and ran another 100 yds of hose over to the Dome. That's a 600 ft run now from the pond to the Dome and the pump handles it just file. Takes 15 minutes to refill a 55 gal drum.