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Difference between revisions of "Gravity fed drip irrigation, semi-automated"

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::Filtering for household use
::Filtering for household use
:::[http://www.appropedia.org/Practivistas_Chiapas_rainwater_catchment Chiapas]
:::[http://www.appropedia.org/Practivistas_Chiapas_rainwater_catchment Chiapas]
:::[http://www.appropedia.org/She-ba_low_cost_water_filters_for_rural_households#at_pco=smlre-1.0&at_si=58359d5f44b05282&at_ab=per-2&at_pos=2&at_tot=4 Sheba water filter]
:::[http://www.cawst.org CAWST]
:::[http://www.cawst.org CAWST]
::Efficient ways to capture rain
::Efficient ways to capture rain

Revision as of 15:50, 15 January 2017

Gravity fed drip irrigation, with the intent of complete, hands free automation.

Welcome, you've arrived at the Global Goals clubs challenge WIKI. I ask you to see this as a starting point for entrants to the challenge of challenges. I ask you to help me prove to the world that if we use these goals as a guideline, a starting point in the search for simple answering to impossible realities. If each of you reading this works toward even one small answer, the millions of small steps could be enough to change the world.

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 a sort of "Vorarbeit" for the challenge. It's up to you to create a wiki about your entrant to the challenge and to get others to help you. My work is free to the world to copy. I used off the shelf products at a normal price, but which could easily be replaced with home made versions, preferably from recycled plastic. This is your challenge, to prove that the world can still be saved, if only we try. Find a way to mix cheap modern technology into the SDGs to answer as many of them as you can.

My personal challenge to you is to improve what I've begun and make it the answer I believe it to be.

The intelligent, low budget mix of garden with technology!

Goal: To prove that by mixing fresh vegetables with science, recycled plastic, computers and computer networking, 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 I only 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!


Welcome to my 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 2 week vacation could be taken in the middle of the season. Only 3 things limit its effectiveness; drought, pump outage and overly dirty water.

Our greenhouse

20 Square meters, 4 x 5 Not heated, so does freeze at night if it's cold

I've attended this garden of approximately 30 plants for 3 seasons. The 1st ran without filter and the daily battle with dirt clogging the drippers convinced me that a filter was needed. I created one out of sand and gravel, which made an incredible difference. This year I intend to improve the filter somewhat, otherwise won't make any changes from last year, other than exchanging dirt and changing plant location.

My garden simplified

Parts List:

Originally I didn't want to include one, because it was too expensive and depends on what's available locally. Since we have no more water pressure than gravity gives us, it only needs to be water tight. Here's a list of the parts that I used, but hope to find (create) 3D printed and/or alternatives to reduce cost.

Description of set up

Rain water is collected underground. A pump attached to a timer runs at a specified time each day to fill an above ground tank. The fill level is measured using a standard toilet floater to shut off the pump when the tank is full.

The water in the tank is fed from the bottom, through a sand + gravel filter to remove fine contamination. The filtered water runs through 1/2" tubing and a branch of 1/4" tubing with an adjustable dripper at the end runs to each plant.

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. I used an old toothbrush and opened 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 keep the moisture in.

Drip adjustment

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 the same 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, no plant showed too much or too little water symptoms, but no records were kept since it was mainly to ensure that the system would work as expected. In hot, sunny times much 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.


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

Big garden

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

Multiple gardens share water

Lessons learned

- year 1 > 2

Without the filter, the drippers required cleaning every 2-3 days, eliminating all time savings.

- year 2 > 3

The filter worked well, but a dry spell left the underground tank empty, so that tap water had to be used. Shortly afterward the drippers began to clog and the top layer of sand was dirty when it was opened. The question is, did the filter stop working because the bottom of the tank was very dirty, or that the living filter was damaged by the tap water. Next question, does the filter live or is there too little oxygen? I hope I can answer those questions in the future.

- year 3 > 4

It's difficult to find a cheap and easy way to seal a filter to take the full pressure of the 80 liter tank. Found a more permanent solution, but water always finds it's way through the seal. This problem remains unsolved!

- year 4

The manual cleaning of drippers must be eliminated. It's the main drawback to this system. After a four weeks they begin clogging and cleaning helps, but it's difficult to leave the system alone for more than a few days. I'd like to solve this by putting a tiny motor on top of a spike at the 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.

My challenge to you!

This project is simple to recreate inexpensively, do it with as few parts as possible, and as many as possible made with recycled plastic!

  • A few examples
    • eliminate the 4 corners!
    • replace the 30 reducers with something recycled!,
    • 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?
    • use your imagination!

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

You're welcome to take my simple, yet expensive version and put it to shame, by:

  • 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 must use it

Where would I begin?

  • An electrified dripper, could be a stepper motor or anything else. How about man made muscle?
    • Stepper motors can 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
    • Ubuntu Phone - Because it's Linux and needs apps badly.
  • Recycled plastic, we must find a way to use what's choking our seas.
  • Produce 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 stop them from leaving home.

Future Plans, full automation - here's where I want your help. Please fill in the blanks!

I've begun a list of the things which may seem impossible, but someone is already doing many of them. Join in and see how it changes the world! We can reach the Global Goals if enough people take part in the search for answers.

I imagine this list as a place for school kids to find project ideas. Within the list there are an unlimited number of things which can be investigated, experimented with and refined. Take my idea a step further, change it to fit your needs, most importantly, document it to help others on the road toward Zero Hunger. Top priority is that you talk about it, let others know you're working toward the goals.

Please feel free to link yourself in here. Tell us about your project, we're searching for the same answers you are.

Some garden options, Pinterest is full of ideas.

Sustainable agriculture topics
Maybe help can be found here
Raised bed
Vertical gardening
Again vertical
In a sack
Bottle towers
Square Foot garden

Indoor vs. Outdoor gardening

Advantages / disadvantages

Types of garden

Square foot garden
Bean sprouts


How do I decide what to grow?
When to plant
Start indoors
What does my plant have?
Where do I get the seeds?
What works better where?
Tomatoes hate water on their leaves
Define what each plant needs for:
Sun conditions
Watering requirements
saturation levels
Nutrients needed by various plants
How to plant
What works together and what doesn't

Automation, done dirt cheap

Combine technology with gardening
An example
And another
This is getting close
and closer
A simple to follow video
3d print a step motor and sensor into the stake at the plant
A simple squeeze of the hose with a part printed into the stake to adjust drip rate
Make parts exchangeable for easy replacement at a minimum cost
Allow the Pi to get input from the sensor and control the drip flow
Gertboard type device as interface
How to find each dripper, sensor combination in the net
How do we signal and power stepper motors at the plant
WiFi or hard wire?
Wireless has the radiation risk / Keep senders to a minimum
Cloud storage
Stats available on an app or online
How to go from PC to plant and back?
How do I know what level my tanks have?
The Gertboard
Computer control systems
PC ideas
Raspberry Pi stepper control
Step motor info (in German)
An app
Remote control
Database, programs, interfacing
Remote control through mobile app
Drip adjustment with step motor or maybe something else?
Sensor to count drops to PC which controls drip rate
How to interface to the Pi, to count drops so it can use the number to adjust the drip rate?
Efficiency and accuracy top priorities
Pump - manual or wind/solar powered
Computer controlled
Feedback from tank feeler
Same time each day
Electricity - Everything, this will be new for me, but with your help. :-)
Make it cheap, available at night and non polluting
Wind or solar?
[http://www.appropedia.org/Practivistas_Chiapas_windbelt_ASE The Windbelt
Electricity storage and conservation.
We can produce electricity in various ways, does this make an e-pump better?
How do we get enough for 3d printing
Solar powered 3d printer
3D printing
Drawing parts
Get drawings into proper format
Pre-prep of parts for printing
Files in public domain
2d to 3d conversion
3D printing of useful things
Can we print the tubing connections? (T's, reducers, etc) If not how can we make them?
Do plans for those parts exist in the public domain?
Maybe you can find it here
This could be it!
The same one changed a bit
Or this
Or this
Lots of examples
Can we modify this? Bend it into different angles and create a sizable version so we can have 1/2" and 1/4" tubing plus hose fittings.
What plastic is best, ABS? PLA probably not OK because it's based on sugar (my understanding)
Other printed parts
Hose connector
Water capture and storage
Garden Barrels
How to!
Filtering for household use
Sheba water filter
Efficient ways to capture rain
DIY projects
Water from the air
Fog Catcher
More water from air
Water from air!
water + electricity from 1 unit
Efficient ways to clean
Simple filter
Efficient ways to use
Additional Sensors
Cheap temp
Water penetration
Free info
A simple moisture sensor
And another
Yet another
Many possibilities
Door/window openers, tank fill measurement and pump start/stop
Some nice to haves, but not necessary, unless to better control climate.
Recycle plastic
How do we stop plastic from getting into the ocean?
How do we efficiently clean up what's laying everywhere?
How do we get the most out of our garbage?
How do you sort what you find?
How do we get people to recycle?
Recycle plastic into things we need
Another source
This doesn't relate to our project, but is an example of plastic reuse.
Can we make the hoses and tanks?
Filament extrusion
A simple recycler
Fair Trade filament
Plastic bottles to filament

Land selection (climate + latitude + altitude, etc.)
Choosing the right plan?
BYU Plan
An interesting site
Things to think about
Chemistry within the garden
Efficient use of space
Heating with the sun
Pop can solar heater
How do you make it easy for anyone to find an answer to a question?
I've given them a place to meet, but how to reach their hearts?
How to reach the young

How to show them our world as it is, no blinders Please feel free to link your genius into this page ;-)

Keep your projects as simple as possible, a child should be able to use it. We'll need to include an intended audience selection, so each garden can be classified for searching. I encourage comments, because I really want my team to help me fix my problems. Tell your friends about my wiki and the GG club. We need all the help we can get!

If you have an idea, but no team to back you up, you can count on me. Let me know and I'll find them. I can yell real loud!

Please don't miss this chance to heal humanity before it's too late for us all!!!

External links