Gravity fed drip irrigation, with the intent of complete, hands free automation.[edit | edit source]

Welcome, you've arrived at the Global Goals clubs challenge WIKI. We ask you to see this as a possible starting point to a new beginning. We hope to prove to the world, that if we use the SDGs as a guideline, a starting point in the search for simple solutions to impossible problems like poverty and hunger. If each of you reading this works toward even one small answer, the millions of small steps when combined into big steps, could be enough to change the world. We view Appropedia as a playground for people who love to try new things. We beg you to look around, find something which would make life simpler for those in need and make it better. We know there are better ways to do almost anything, maybe you'll find some of them.

What follows is an example of a simple yet effective way to create an abundance of fresh vegetables in a small space with minimal resources. See it as an example for the challenge. We ask you to create a wiki about your project and keep the world informed of your status.

Our wiki is free to to copy and improve upon! We used off the shelf products at a normal prices, but are searching for ways to replace them with home made versions, preferably from recycled plastic. We challenge you to prove that the world can still be saved, we simply need to begin. Find a way to mix cheap modern technology into the SDGs to answer as many of them as you can.

The project below attempts to answer problems within a multitude of SDGs simultaneously. At the end is the begin of an outline of possible improvements which could be created to enhance our garden or go off on a new tangeant.

Goal: To prove that by mixing fresh vegetables with science, recycled plastic, computers, computer networking and social skills, the poor starving people of the world can be fed at a minor cost, weighed against the benefit to mankind. The garden and ideas demonstrated here are in the public domain, free for anyone, anywhere to use. In exchange we simply ask that you find a way to help in reaching the Global Goals and especially Zero Hunger by 2030!

This goes to the global goals!

Intro[edit | edit source]

Welcome to our garden! What began as an experiment, has turned into a working garden which can run alone for several weeks at a time using rain water. The garden presented is small scale, approx. 30 plants, but can easily be expanded simply by adding more branches from the above ground tank and filling it more often. It's main purpose was to eliminate the carrying of water, eliminate guess work and wasted water, while ensuring that the harvest is never at risk due to lack of water. The main benefit was that the automation worked so well that a 4 week vacation could be taken in the middle of the growing season. Only 3 things limit its effectiveness; drought, pump outage and overly dirty water.

Our greenhouse drip system[edit | edit source]

20 Square meters, 4 x 5 Not heated, so does freeze at night in the winter.

Simple representation of the system
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Parts List[edit | edit source]

Since we have no more water pressure than gravity gives us, it only needs to be watertight. Here's a list of the parts we used, but we've begun to create 3D printed alternatives to reduce cost.

Replacements[edit | edit source]

The following files are on a slow server. Have patience!

An impression of our garden[edit | edit source]

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Drippers running, one slow, so it gets cleaned

The drippers are adjusted to provide approx 100ml of water per hour when the tank is full and will gradually decrease during the day as the tank empties. I estimate that each plant receives 2l water over a 24 hour period. At this time the tank is refilled, bringing the drip speed back to 100ml per hour. With time, dirt and/or algae collect on the dripper, decreasing output and must be cleaned away. We use an old toothbrush to clean and open the dripper to full open to flush dirt out of the tubing and dripper.

Grass cuttings are spread at the base of each plant as a mulch to reduce evaporation.

Drip adjustment[edit | edit source]

To begin the season, a glass was placed under a dripper and left to run for 1 hour and adjusted until 100ml dripped per hour. All plants were set to a similar drip rate and allowed to run. During the summer we experimented with more or less water per plant and although we found it difficult to always have the same drop rates, but no records were kept since it was mainly to ensure that the system would work as expected. In hot, sunny times more water was released, but without sensors in the earth it's difficult to know what amount is correct. The system was never turned off, meaning it dripped 24 hours per day, but very slowly.

Plants[edit | edit source]

16 Tomato 10 Paprika Various others including Eggplant, Cucumber, Green Beans, salad, herbs and spices.

Big garden[edit | edit source]

Multiple basic gardens share the same water source for an economical way to feed entire villages.

Multiple gardens share water

Problems to solve[edit | edit source]

The manual cleaning of drippers must be eliminated. It's the main drawback to this system. After 3 weeks they begin clogging and cleaning helps, but it's difficult to leave the system alone for more than a few days. Homemade replacement parts to reduce cost! Moisture sensors in the ground would give a more accurate measure of whether each plant gets enough water.

We'd like to solve this by putting a tiny motor on top of a spike at each plant and let the drip fall onto the ends of 2 wires, the computer could read the short circuit as a drop, thus enable real automation by adjusting the pressure on the hose to regulate the drop count.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

This system runs well with little supervision, but the beginning takes time since too much or too little water can be bad. Automation would allow a hands free garden and is the prefered solution, if it can be done cheaply enough to feed the masses with little attention.

Our challenge to you![edit | edit source]

This project is simple to recreate inexpensively, do it with recycled plastic and we'll have provided a relief of malnutrition.

  • Here are a few examples
    • eliminate the 4 corners!
    • replace the 30 reducers and drippers with 3d printed from recycled plastic or find your own solution.
    • find a way to recycle plastic, PET is the most obvious choice
    • improve or make a better filter to eliminate clogging of drippers
    • change the mechanical dripper which easily clogs with a simple, inexpensive alternative
    • how do you collect and store enough water to best get through the dry season in various climates?
    • make a manual pump which could be reproduced anywhere
    • use your imagination, the answers lie within you

Most importantly of all! It must be so simple, any child could run it. There must be at least 1000 ways, please help us find them.

You're welcome to take our simple, yet expensive version and put it to shame, by[edit | edit source]

  • simply find a solution that works better:
    • cheaply mass producible
    • automate it, make the dripper clog free
    • eliminate or improve the filter
    • bring the price per plant to below $1.00
    • keep it simple enough that even a child can use it

Where would we begin?[edit | edit source]

  • Recycled plastic, we must find a way to use what's choking our waterways and killing our oceans.
  • 3d printed parts to eliminate cost
  • An electrified dripper, could be a stepper motor or anything else. How about man made muscle?
    • Stepper motors could be taken from outdated CD/DVD drives
  • Networking, cables or IoT
  • Computer, I'd begin with Rasp Pi, but cost and power must be considered.
    • Linux because it's free and open
  • Produce parts where jobs are needed most to allow multiple benefits from a single solution.
    • If we can give the poor work and a way to feed their families we can reduce migration, stop them from leaving home.

Future plans[edit | edit source]

See Gravity fed drip irrigation, semi-automated/Future plans.

External links[edit | edit source]

FA info icon.svg Angle down icon.svg Page data
Authors Steve O
License CC-BY-SA-3.0
Language English (en)
Related 1 subpages, 3 pages link here
Aliases Appropedia:Incubator/Gravity fed drip irrigation, semi-automated
Impact 2,157 page views
Created January 31, 2016 by Steve O
Modified July 5, 2023 by Emilio Velis
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