Automatic watering system for the garden: storage tank with water level control

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Proper watering of plants is a constant, timely and strictly metered irrigation. This can be done either by daily self-watering of the beds, or by arranging an automated irrigation system. In this and subsequent articles, we will tell you what and how to do this..

Automatic garden irrigation system

It is difficult to overestimate the importance of watering. If the plants receive less moisture, then this will lead not only to a lack of harvest, but even, in the worst case, to the death of the entire plant. For one-year-olds, this is not so scary – it has died, nothing, we will plant a new one, but in the case of perennials, bushes and trees, the loss of a plant will be especially offensive. The fact is that water is not just moisture that dissolves organic and mineral fertilizers contained in the soil, thereby ensuring the possibility of their absorption. It is from water and carbon dioxide that plants produce nutrients for themselves – a process called photosynthesis. It turns out that no water – no food. No food – the plant dies!

The following myth is popular with many novice gardeners – if it rains, then there is no need to water. It is not right! Try to pierce the topsoil with your finger after rain. You will see that only 2–3 cm is moistened. Further it is dry, and the roots of plants are located exactly at this depth. Only very heavy or prolonged rains in reality can sufficiently moisten the soil, so that it rains or is dry, you still have to water.

Well, we figured out the need for watering, moreover, abundant watering. But what to do if it’s hot outside, the sun beats down mercilessly, and you get to water the plants only once a week only on weekends, when there is an opportunity to go to the country house? Plants are unlikely to withstand such a regime. There is only one way out – to install an automatic watering system for plants. How to do this, what is needed for this and what tasks will have to be solved in order to achieve this goal, will be discussed in this and subsequent articles..

First, let’s figure out what steps will have to go through the solution to the problem of arranging an automatic irrigation system.

Choosing a water source for irrigation

Initially, water can be delivered to the site in two ways:

1. The site has a central water supply system, through which water is supplied on schedule.

Pros:

  • the amount of water that can be poured onto your site while it is supplied through pipes is not limited;
  • since the storage, as a rule, is a large metal container heated by the sun, the water already has an optimal temperature for irrigation.

Minuses:

  • limited time frames. If you didn’t have time to water while water is being supplied, then wait for the next session.

Automatic garden irrigation system

2. On the site there is a well from which water is taken.

Pros:

  • you supply as much water as you need and when you need it.

Minuses:

  • the water in the well is cold and not suitable for watering plants without preheating;
  • it is not uncommon when there is not enough water in the well to fully meet the entire daily need, so you have to save.

Strictly speaking, a third option is also possible – a central water supply with an unlimited supply. In this case, if the water is supplied warm enough, then the storage tank, in principle, is not needed and this article is simply not relevant. If the water in the water supply system is cold, then this case is similar to the option of supplying water from a well.

Conclusion: both options, along with their positive sides, have a number of disadvantages that impose restrictions on their use as a self-sufficient source of water for irrigation. You can get rid of these disadvantages if you equip a storage tank on the site, into which water will be poured in advance, it will be heated in the sun, and watering will be carried out from it as a result. How to make such a container and ensure a constant and sufficient volume of water in it will be described in this article..

Water supply system installation

The second stage of work will be the organization of the water supply system to the places of consumption. It is clear that you can simply connect a hose to the outlet of the drive and walk with it around the garden, watering the plants. However, this is, firstly, inconvenient – dragging a long “gut” with you, secondly, it is unsafe for plants – there is a high risk of damaging them with a hose dangling in the beds, and thirdly, this option will not help solve the main problem – to make an automatic irrigation system … Ensuring the supply of water to the places of consumption is a necessary second stage of the work being carried out. You can read about this in the second article..

Automatic garden irrigation system

Organization of the irrigation system

The last step is organizing direct watering of the plants. There are two most popular irrigation methods: sprinkler and drip irrigation. The latter is becoming especially fashionable today. However, we must not forget that not all plants prefer the drip option, as his ardent supporters try to convince us of this – cucumbers, for example, love sprinkling. In addition, different plants have different irrigation regimes – some water must be supplied constantly, others much less often or in smaller quantities. Consequently, the entire irrigation system is a combination of different methods of irrigation of different beds, with an individual regime for each, taking into account the temperature and humidity conditions of the environment. Do not forget about two more factors: aesthetics – everything should look neat and be convenient to use, and mobility – over the years the plants on the beds change places, this is called crop rotation, so after them the irrigation system should migrate to other beds. Despite the apparent complexity, everything is not so scary. How to organize all this, we will tell you in the third, final article..

Installation of the storage tank. Principles and nuances

Let’s consider all the necessary operations in stages.

Before you can mount the storage tank, you must purchase one. Here the first question arises, how much capacity will be enough, maybe a banal two-hundred-liter barrel will do?

Automatic garden irrigation system

The answer to this question cannot be unambiguous. Different plants require different amounts of water, so you cannot accurately calculate. One thing can be stated with certainty – at least 40 liters of water is needed for a three-meter garden bed, otherwise the result described above will be obtained in the case of light rain. There is no sense in such watering – moisture will not reach the roots. Generally speaking, for a vegetable garden with a total area of ​​about 0.5 acres per week, you need at least 1 m3 water. This should be the starting point.

Automatic garden irrigation system

The next question is how to install, or rather, to what height should the container be raised in order to ensure a comfortable water pressure for irrigation? Everything is simpler here. A column of water of 1 m gives a pressure of 0.1 atm. Consequently, a barrel raised to a height of 2 m above the ground will give about 0.2 atm. This is at least enough. It is clear that more is better, but do not forget that during the ascent you will be faced with a number of associated tasks that will need to be solved:

  • organization of a powerful pedestal. 1m3 water has a mass of 1 ton. Plus the weight of the container itself. The structure must be stable and have a solid platform, and the higher the pedestal, the more difficult it will be to provide it with the required rigidity;
  • the best water for irrigation is rainwater. It is foolish not to use the opportunity to collect it, for example, from the roof. To do this, you need to install the tank so that the neck or top of the tank is just below the catchments. In this case, it will become possible to lay a gutter or pipe from them with at least a minimal slope;
  • the container silts up over time – this is inevitable, because it will stand in the sun, so every 3-4 years it must be cleaned of deposits. It is far from always possible to do this without removing the tank from the pedestal, and its high height will greatly complicate this task..

Automatic garden irrigation system

Thus, a container set too high will create additional pressure, but will generate a lot of problems during its operation and maintenance. As practice shows, the optimal height will be 2.5-3 m.

The container is installed. Before filling it with water, you need to solve one more problem – to make an overflow. It is a discharge pipe at the top of the tank. If you have organized the collection of rainwater, that is, the amount of incoming water in some cases is not under your control, then the presence of an overflow is especially important. To prevent water from flowing over the edge, flooding the surrounding area, a pipe is removed from the top of the tank and diverted to the required distance, for example, into a ditch or drain.

Automatic garden irrigation system

Automatic garden irrigation system

Organization of automatic control of the water level in the tank. If you are constantly on your site, then it will not be difficult for you to periodically fill the container with water as needed. But if we want the plants to be watered during our absence, then water will be consumed constantly, including when we are not. In this case, we will not be able to independently control the water level in the tank. Therefore, it is necessary to make a system of automatic filling of the tank with water with control of its level. There are many ways to do this. The solution option will depend on how the water is supplied to the tank. There are two possible options:

  • a separate pump is connected to the tank, serving only it. In this case, an electronic system is needed that turns on and off the pump at the right time;
  • the tank is connected to the existing water supply, central or individual. In this case, a mechanical system is needed that opens and closes a certain intake valve at the right time..

Consider the first option – a separate pump that fills the tank. Everything is quite simple here. The obvious solution would be a float switch..

Automatic garden irrigation system

It is a plastic box with a switch and a steel ball inside. Depending on the water level, the float changes its position from the extreme upper to the extreme lower. In the upper position, the ball opens the contacts. The pump is then switched off. In the down position it closes, including the pump. To adjust such a switch, a special weight is used that is put on the cord. The float rises and falls in an arc centered at the point where the weight is. By connecting the pump to such a switch, by setting the length of the discharge and the position of the load, you will provide the necessary moments of switching on and off the pump..

Automatic garden irrigation system

A float switch is not the only option. On the internet, you can find other ways to ensure that the water pump is automatically turned on and off. For example, you can find a description of a device based on several electrodes. However, perhaps it is the float switch that is the best option, both due to its availability – it can be bought in almost any store that sells pumps, and its price is about 800 rubles, and due to its reliability in operation.

Consider the second option, when the storage tank is connected to an existing plumbing system. What should be done in this case? The above option does not quite suit us. Indeed, we cannot turn off the pump itself, because it works constantly, providing the necessary pressure in the water supply. If the tank is connected to the central summer water supply, then in this case the described solution is not an option, because there is no pump here in principle.

To solve the problem, the entire system must be supplied with a kind of tap, which opens when the water level falls below a certain level, and does not close until the water reaches its maximum. A crane with an electric drive in combination with a float switch can cope with the task.

Automatic garden irrigation system

That is, in this case, our switch can serve, but only if it controls not the pump itself, but the crane. True, such a combination will already cost quite a lot – 800 rubles. switch and about 2500 rubles. crane. Perhaps it is cheaper to buy a separate pump of the “Kid” type and connect it to the reservoir. But you want it to be simple and inexpensive! It turns out that there are such options. Consider the most obvious and simplest option – timer water supply.

In gardening stores, you can buy a simple device – an electronic timer for watering:

Automatic garden irrigation system

It is a valve that opens and closes according to a given program. First, we connect the container directly and note the filling time and emptying time. We connect the device to the pipe supplying water to the tank. We program it to turn on at certain intervals – the emptying time, and for a certain time – the filling time. This option, although not the best, but, in any case, the simplest and does not require additional work. In addition, in water pipelines where water is supplied according to a schedule, it is almost the only one – the period of operation of the device can always be adjusted precisely for the time of water supply.

The described options are not ideal – the first is expensive, the second is inaccurate. There is a fairly cheap device that provides control of the water level in the tank you need.

You need to buy a banal toilet float valve at any plumbing store.

Automatic garden irrigation system

We disassemble it. We won’t need a pear. We take a metal rod-rocker.

Automatic garden irrigation system

We cut and bend it to this state:

Automatic garden irrigation system

We collect the valve.

Automatic garden irrigation system

We drill a hole on the skirt or make an additional washer with a hole. We put a spring on the rod at one end. We hook others into the hole.

Automatic garden irrigation system

The result is a device in which a spring holds the rocker rod in the “open” or “closed” position. Now we mount the valve in the side wall of the storage tank clearly in the middle between the desired water levels, maximum and minimum. Next, we tie a thick fishing line to the stock, it will not overreach over time. We tie the other end of the line to the float, on which we attach the load. Our task is to ensure that the float retains buoyancy sufficient to raise the rocker rod when filling the tank with water, overcoming the resistance of the spring, and at the same time has sufficient mass to switch this rod down when the water level falls.

Automatic garden irrigation system

Thus, in a full tank, the float floats in the extreme upper position. The stem is lifted up and held in this position by a spring – the valve is closed, water does not flow. As it is consumed, the float goes down, along with the water level. The valve is closed by a spring-held stem. Upon reaching the lower level, when the line is taut under the action of the float mass, the rod will switch to the “open” position. Water will begin to flow into the container until the float, floating on the surface, pulls the line up and switches the stem to the “closed” position.

It’s pretty simple. True, there are several nuances:

  • it is necessary to achieve the correct combination of buoyancy and float mass. This can only be done experimentally;
  • the float valve for the toilet bowl must be of good quality, otherwise the stem under the action of the spring will tilt sideways and simply will not switch;
  • since in the closed position when the water level falls, only the spring will hold the valve, it will be necessary to select the optimal water pressure in the water supply system at the inlet to the container so that the spring can cope with its duties;
  • there is a risk that, when lowering, the valve will touch the stem and switch it ahead of time. This problem is easily solved by mounting additional protection on the valve, for example, cut from a five-liter plastic bottle..

All described operations are quite simple. The system requires one setup, and then it will work like a clock, ensuring the constant availability of water in your storage tank.

Let’s summarize. Based on the described recommendations, you will have a container with water heated in the sun on your site, which in itself is very good, because thanks to it you will always have the amount of water necessary for irrigation.

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