Putt Myra forest garden irrigation systems

This is in extreme drought times, I thought it might be good to finally tell us a bit more about how our irrigation systems in forest garden, the associated nursery and cultivation conditions works. Briefly summarized, the system is based on:

  • Seasonal Storage of rainfall
  • Simple solar technology to lift water
  • Self-Press to distribute the water.

We started installing the system early summer 2015 after we had received a small grant from Flory Gates foundation Peace with the Earth to install the system and have developed continuously since then. When we started we had no prior knowledge, and I thought it was very difficult to find good advice, both online and in the literature (For example, in the actually quite arcane book "Drip Irrigation for Every Landscape and All Climates" by Robert Kourik) of simple irrigation systems that work without being connected to the mains or public waters. Therefore, there has been much "trial and error" for us, but now we know that the system works well and want to share with you how we made. It is safe to do things better or differently, so please let me know if you have any comments or suggestions. Although literature hints are appreciated.

Seasonal storage

The key to the system is our dam system, in particular, the largest dam lying on the ground lowest point and that all the runoff from forest garden must get through before it leaves the ground. Although we hardly had any rain since the snow melts, and even though we have pumped between 500 and 1.000 liters of water out of the pond every day keeps the time of writing still above 100.000 liters of water level in the dam has not fallen more than an inch since the start of the growing season.

Here is shown a schematic of how the water is distributed from the large pond only up to the land's highest point and then down to the greenhouse where the line branches into a number of different circuits.

The electricity and the pump

Since the big pond is lower than everything else on the property, we need to move the water from the dam to the farms. Initially watered us all by hand with water jugs, but in the scale we grow now it is impossible to continue with the. That we are not connected to the electricity grid was a bit of a challenge to get to a working system. To install a full-scale solelssystem with inverters and everything did not question us purely economic, so we chose a very simple 12V solution. It consists of a diaphragm pump of the brand Shurflo, model 2088 Deluxe which we bought from a German supplier. They are not the world's best service, but was clearly the cheapest when we bought the pump and still seems to be the. The pump is on land, and draws in water through a filter fitted pipes from the large pond next. Then press the up water in the pipe leading to the distribution tanks (the nedan).

The pump is connected to a solar systems with two solar panels on a total of 180 W.. except panels behövs även en regulator, both we bought from another German vendor also with mediocre service. To make everything work required it is also a usual leisure battery that stores surplus production which allows the pump to go when the sun does not shine too.

It looks out over the solar cells. To the left diaphragm pump, right leisure battery.

Since a few weeks back, we have installed a timer that functions like an egg timer, so we do not need to be in place to turn the pump. We also tested a so-called float starts the pump when the water level is too low in tanks (the nedan), but it did not work really well for us and we have therefore chosen a timer instead.

The tanks and pressure

The diaphragm pump is good at moving water far both in sid- and height, but it is not good to pressurize the. Therefore, we need to move the water only up to later drop it down again with just the right pressure for our irrigation system.

In the current situation, we use three so-called IBC tanks (also known as cubic thoughts), which can accommodate a total 3000 liter. They are located on our property's highest point located 6 meters of greenhouse and nursery where we use the most water. The small pump has no problem filling them, even though the cable length is 50 m and the lifting height of 7 m.

IBC tanks in its full beauty.

The tanks are connected by hoses as shown below, which means that the water level in all three tanks is always the same.

The three tanks are connected by plastic tubing to have a larger buffer capacity. We charge 300 liters of water, the level in the tanks with only 10 cm, instead of 30 cm would be the case if we had only one tank. Thus holding the pressure in the lines at a higher level.

In addition to the tanks at the highest point, we have several thoughts scattered in the cultures that we can use to fill water jugs when we do not want to hose. They are connected to the tanks on the land's highest point through pipes.

In the vegetable lands, greenhouse and parts of the nursery, we use drip irrigation to reduce the unnecessary loss of water as the water comes directly into the ground without getting stuck on the leaves and branches where some evaporates. To drip irrigation tubing we chose (the nedan) to work, we need a pressure of at least 0,3 bar in the lines and the optimum is 0,6 bar (is the pressure in lines of 1,05 bar needs a pressure regulator that reduces the pressure). Each meter drop gives a press 0,1 bar, which in our case means that we will have a press 0,65-0,7 a bar at the outlet of the conduit, depending on the filling level in the tanks, thus is perfect for tubing we have.

Drip irrigation vegetable garden
Drip hoses are barely visible, and this type of irrigation means that it gets very dry on the surface of the growing bed, which makes it difficult for the fröogräs to get a foothold in the growing. In addition prevented any disease attack, in that we do not watering the leaves.

In order to minimize friction losses in line (that allows the pressure at the outlet decreases significantly) we use a wire with a diameter of 40 mm. When the pressure loss is negligible, concomitantly a wire having a diameter of 20 etc. result in rather large pressure losses (corresponding 0,5 m lower vertical at a flow of 300 liters / hour). How much pressure loss will be for different cable lengths, flows and diameters can easily work out with one of the many räknesnurrorna available online, for example this.

Drip hoses

The large lead from the tanks to the nursery area is equipped with a disk filter to particles which could clog the drip hoses removed. Drip hoses are to make T-Tape med en diameter på 16 mm and a distance of 20 cm drop between points. We chose this makes for a recommendation from our supplier. The optimum pressure for them to say 0,6 bar, but different brands have different values ​​for optimal pressure. Since the pressure loss becomes larger the longer the line you have, you can not have as long drip hoses anywhere. At the T-Tapes part is 114 m length which is maximum at 0,6 bar. Since we have almost 300 m drip hose in crops and greenhouse, we needed to divide the system into several circuits that we can control separately.

So this lush farming country we had never been without drip irrigation.

Before all the circuits we have installed a simple valve with a timer that also serves as an egg timer. After this valve is then taps one gets open by hand to remove the water in the drip hoses. In our greenhouses, we have 3 circuits (it would be enough with a), the cultivation conditions, it is also 3 and there is a circuit for the part of the nursery where we have collected our parent material that we take cuttings and scions from.

Timer for irrigation
The little red widget is a valve with äggklocketimer. Above the visible beginning of the two circuits with their cranes as we open manually.

In the forest garden we have no drip irrigation, without punktvattnar with a hose that is directly connected to the tanks, but on a smaller scale, it would certainly be possible to make use of drip irrigation including forest garden plants.

The point of watering the plants that are in need of water works well for us. We have a hose that we can plug in at different points in a distribution line from which we can reach most of the forest garden with no problems.

lessons learned

That said, the system works fine now, but we have normally gone through some tough failures also.

Frost: When the various components of the system are full of water, they are sensitive to frost. 2017, when we had -8 degrees at night until May, froze both the pump and the disk filter as well as several valves apart. Now we therefore much longer in the spring before we launch the system and bring in the most sensitive components and empty the entire system when there is a risk of frost. The drop hoses seems strange enough to be fairly insensitive to frost as long as they are not filled with water. Before winter we open all the valves so that the water can slowly drain out, and let it all out of the pump system and filter should be left where it is. So far there has been some frost damage to this procedure.

Sork: Sorken really messed up properly for us på sistone och även droppbevattningssystemet drabbades den gångna vintern. Voles must have been so desperate for food that they even chewed out parts of drip hoses, with the result that we had to replace almost 200 m droppslang. In the future, we will therefore still pick up all dripping hoses in safe custody, even if it means a few hours of extra work both spring and fall.

Vole eat everything. Even drip hoses.


In summary, then, we have built the system on the basis of our specific conditions where we do not have electricity- and water connection, but where we have the topography of both the seasonal storage of water in natural ponds and pressurization of water by gravity. The diagram below summarizes how the various parts are connected.

To see the flowchart of the irrigation system out. The filter-tipped diaphragm pump sucks the water from the large pond and lift it 7 m up to the IBC takarna. From there, a 40 mm thick lead down to a disc filter. Directly after the filter there is a tap that we connected an irrigation hose. Därefer sits a valve with timer, after which the various circuits is, each with its own crane fitted valve. So we can detail and based on the need to control where the water will end up.

In other places, in other circumstances, it may look completely different. For example, it would go to collect water from the roof instead of pumping it, which would simplify the system significantly. Already 3 m drop is enough to get the drip hoses work, so most people who are able to takvatteninsamling could use it, provided that one can build a stable position can handle water tank weight 1 tons when filled. Please share your experience, either here in the comments or on Facebook, there are certainly many more ways to solve the irrigation issue!

11 thoughts on “Putt Myra forest garden irrigation systems”

  • Hi!

    Interesting! Vad har systemet kostat er än så länge? 🙂 Låter ju väldigt behagligt att slippa springa runt med de där vattenkannorna fram och tillbaka, fram och tillbaka ^^

    • Hej Dennis!
      Jag har inte räknat på det, men gissningsvis 10000-12000 kronor (exkl moms) om man räknar bort att vi pajade en pump, ett filter och att sorken åt upp slangarna i vintras. Känns helt klart värt!

      • Okay! Jag skulle ju inte behöva pumpen och därav inte elen så det skulle nog bli en rejäl hacka billigare tänker jag isf 🙂

        En till fråga:
        The large pond. Is the reason that it only dropped a dm that it contains whim of water, or do you think it is replenished by groundwater?

        And another:
        Do you know anything about how it works to mix the urine in tanks to also make it to the plants? I imagine that there is a risk that the system is clogged with salt and stuff? Or maybe the roots find their way into the tubing if it is readily available nutrients from them?

        • And, it is the pump system which costs. 1200 SEK for the pump, 2000 SEK for panels, 400 SEK for governor, 1500 SEK battery, whole 1000 SEK timer (roughly). Although lines were expensive, in that we need so much. About 4000 SEK for pipes and 1200 SEK drip hoses.

          The large pond filled from below from several water veins fortunately, although they tend to their eventually during the summer. The water in the pond is several degrees cooler than in the other ponds.

          Regarding your urine issue, I remember that I read somewhere that it can get the type of problem you describe the blockage with salts and so. I think it is better to mix the urine and water just prior to fertilize, But I could be wrong.

  • This is not relevant to me. but know: Oh what valuable information and va fun being there and doing what you are doing and want to share with you!! TACK!

  • Hello Philip!
    Again, thank you for sharing all the knowledge and experience. Simple and low-resource systems is what is needed. I am sitting in a large garden in Portugal and are considering including on how I can help create a sustainable irrigation system. All precipitation during December to March and then dry, heat and wind the rest of the year.

  • Hej Philipp. Interesting post this. Seems to work fine your facility.
    Sounds tedious to have to pick up drip hoses every year. Perhaps you can make your own hearty PEM hose that can withstand vole better? The pressure drop will of course significantly lower even when you do not have the limitation of 114m. A little experimentation with different diameter drill so it should go the way. End plug for drainage in autumn. Does the cook a PEMslang the extension sleeve on vole still fancy plastic.

  • Very interesting! Had been very interesting to hear how you coped with the continued extreme drought during the summer? How have the plants affected?

  • Hejsan. I have a cottage without electricity. One country of about 100 m2. Three IBC mind set that I fill with water from rainwater IBC tank. As the three IBC is only about 1 m away from the country and about 1 m in lluften I wonder if you can give me tips on how I can adapt the system to these conditions, i.e. irrigation by gravity and timer?. Can you give tips on where you can purchase

    • Hi! Unfortunately, I hate no one eye on systems with as little drop. Our system requires at least 0,36 bar pressure in lines, Thus 3,6 m drop. Please, Philipp

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.