Measured irrigation at Prospect Community Garden
In developed nations, at least in the cities and most towns, we take it for granted that when we turn on a tap, water will flow…. When we flip a switch, electricity springs to our command. However this is not the reality for many communities around the world, where water is from non-mains sources and electricity may be non-existent.
Conventional automatic irrigation systems are designed to operate with pressurised water from the mains, and are run by mains electricity, and because of this are not suited to implementation in areas where these are not available, whether due to being in an isolated location, or one without the financial ability to install such infrastructure as mains water and power.
Dr. Bernard Omodei faced this situation during his ongoing work with Trees For Life, when trying to work out how to provide irrigation to young trees planted in locations where no mains water or power was available. So, this innovative South Australian developed his own irrigation system, named Measured Irrigation, which basically operates on rainwater and sunlight. Measured irrigation uses tank water, which may hold rainwater, bore water or greywater and the pump is operated by solar panels.
Measured Irrigation pump is operated by solar panels
Measured irrigation operates on the principle of evaporation, and activates in direct response to weather conditions. The water level in the terracotta ‘birdbath’ controller bowl will fall due to evaporation and gravitational water loss, as it seeps through the porous terracotta into the surrounding coarse sand.
During very hot weather the evaporation rate will be much greater and so the time between irrigation intervals will be shorter. On cool overcast days, the evaporation rate will be quite small and so the time between irrigation intervals will be longer.
Prospect Community Garden flourishing with measured irrigation
We are able to isolate different beds so a vacant section of the site can have its water supply turned off. The soaker hoses are not subject to pressure gushes or damage from garden tools. The solar panels pumping rain water from the tanks only operate when the sun shines, so I would say there will be less water use compared with the drippers at the other gardens. It clearly was a good choice and has environmental benefits too. — Mr Alan Shepard of Prospect Community Garden