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Garden Irrigation – Small Scale Garden Watering Projects From Your Rain Barrel
What is WaterWand Heliomatic?
It is a very small solar powered pump designed to use stored rainwater from barrels or rainwater tanks. It works automatically, watering more when it’s sunny. It starts automatically every 3 hours and pumps in proportion to the light intensity of the previous 3 hours.
Okay, so what can he do?
It will usually pump about 130 milliliters per minute. The maximum pressure is 3 bar – that’s a lot for such a small pump and means that lifting water 5m is no problem, so hanging baskets, upside down tomato plants and the like are within easy reach.
The Heliomatic can be used with low volume irrigation systems – it is designed for use with 1 liter per hour drippers and an 8mm seepage hose, both of which can be supplied as optional kits.
How many drops?
This really depends on what you are watering. The more drippers in the system, the less water will come out of each one. The absolute maximum is 40 – in this case the irrigation system must be flat and fed from the center or as a ring line to ensure even distribution. The Heliomatic 130 would supply enough water for 40 typical 5 liter containers, the Heliomatic 250, with a larger solar panel 40 10 liter containers.
Where it is not possible to have a flat irrigation system there are several options:-
- reduce the number of droppers
- Use flow regulators. Up to six two-liter-per-hour pressure-compensated drippers can be used to supply subs with up to 5 low-speed drippers on each. The droppers on each regulator will need to be kept level, but the regulators can be at different heights without causing problems. Great when you have a few pots and a few baskets.
What about the seepage hose? (also known as soaker hose, weep hose)
Only a small diameter seepage hose (diameter 8 mm) is suitable for use with this solar irrigation pump. On level ground, the pump will deliver about 6m of percolation hose. In inclined places, the pipe should follow the contours to enable the best distribution of water. Another option is to supply several shorter lengths through flow regulators (also known as pressure compensated drippers or pcp drippers). In this case, each length should be laid along the contour, but different lengths can be at different heights without causing problems. As a guideline, 6 flow regulators can be used each with 1 m of percolation pipe with a height difference of up to 2 m between the highest and the lowest.
Multiple seepage hose systems. You can install a number of permanent seepage hose systems, each with up to 6m of seepage pipe. They are then rotatably connected to the pump; for example, put a drainage hose on each of the 7 rows of vegetables and connect each to a pump one day a week.
Mixed irrigation systems
It is possible to design irrigation systems with a seepage hose and drippers. Even if there are significant height differences, it can still work.
To do this, up to 6 flow regulators are attached to the distribution pipe. If necessary, they can be at different heights. An auxiliary manifold main or a section of percolation hose can be attached to each. If it is an underwater channel with drippers, up to 6 drippers can be attached (they must be level) or up to 1 m of siphon.
Collection and storage of rainwater
The easiest way to collect and store rainwater is to use rainwater and water tanks. This will work anywhere there is a roof you can collect from and is so common that it doesn’t need further discussion here.
A truly discreet and attractive way of collecting and storing rainwater is the use of specially designed raised troughs. Raised rainwater storage beds are simply a raised bed with a tank underneath. They can either catch water from roofs – just like a water pipe, or they can simply catch the rain that falls on them and store it for future use. If you google “raised beds for rainwater harvesting” you will find them. They are also excellent for use where there is no soil, the soil is unusable, or where there are tree roots that suck all the moisture and nutrients from the soil.
Wells, springs and streams
Provided the water is clear, these too can be used to power the WaterWand. It is usually recommended that the water is no more than 2m below the pump, but in tests the pumps worked successfully even where the water was 4m below the pump. If you want to use these sources, make sure they are not contaminated, especially with herbicides that will damage your plants.
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