Saturday, December 27, 2008

Natural Irrigation

Since I currently live in California and without irrigation our "civilization" would perish, I am looking for fossil-fuel and supply-line free methods to be self-sufficient and sustainable.

I have been curious about other forms of piping that do not need metal or plastic, the obvious solution would be bamboo.

Bamboo grows wild here on the central coast and from what I understand there are many varieties that grow well in almost all conditions around the world! Yesterday I experimented with bamboo and was able to get some water flowing through a short 3 foot pipe I made! I had some troubles finding the right sizes and lengths that would work, but was a fun trial and error experience!

I found this site today and it has a similar technique to what I was using, but looks like it would work better. I was using smaller pieces of bamboo instead of a metal rod, but some of the bamboo was breaking and it would ruin the whole section. I found that younger, greener bamboo worked best as the "small" inside piece to break through the nodes. However, it was challenging to break through the nodes and I wished I had something stronger and sharper. Plus, the "hole" was not very big, maybe 1/2 inch, and if I had proper tools I could make this much bigger, such as this site allows you to do.

Only downside is that the pipes last for only 5 years - versus 15-20+ for plastic. And they have to be raised off the ground and that is secured with wood and some kind of twine/rope. Oh and the fact that you have to manufacture them! But, if we want to be off-grid and need to make our own piping, this is an option.

The other step is how to get the water into the pipes. From a pond, river or stream The best option I have found so far is the time tested the roman invention - the Archimedes screw. Which can be built with wood, sealed with resin (from wood), and powered by man power or a wooden windmill!

Those methods take water and lift it up, but ideally the water would be gravity fed into pipes. The permaculture preferred method is keyline design, which combines dams and swales on contour, but the unique method is how they design the pipes at the base of the dams, so just turning on the spigot will release water with pressure to go into your pipes or furrows (ditches) for flood irrigation.

Still the other option which I am exploring, is to choose drought-tolerant or less water intensive crops to grow. And/or choosing a new lifestyle, which could include hand watering earthen pots submerged in the ground which would slowly release the water to the surrounding plants. The main foods that need this are vegetables. Many Grains and Fruits can be grown with the rainfall that is stored in the soil. This may require that we have a large harvest and then preserve the food through the months that we cannot grow. Such as how people store food through the winter. This all depends on our diet of course. I will be working on this for the next few months, even years and will try to keep the blog updated!

1 comment:

drip irrigation systems said...

this is sounds good. the natural materials not just proving the system but also a healthy environment. i love this idea!