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A Solar-powered Drip Irrigation System for Sustainable Vegetable Production in the Midwest United States

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2018 ASABE Annual International Meeting  1800461.(doi:10.13031/aim.201800461)
Authors:   Steve Andrew Miller, Ajit Srivastava, Steven Marquie, Youngsuk Dong, Lyndon Kelley, Courtency Roberts
Keywords:   Irrigation scheduling, Soil moisture sensors, solar powered irrigation system, extension education.


Small scale vegetable production is increasing in both urban and rural areas throughout the world with growing customer support for buying locally grown produce with governments providing economic incentives. To sustainably produce reliable quantity and quality of produce requires irrigation in most areas with least amount of water and energy footprint. Many of these growers are seeking energy efficient system that do not rely on the local power grid. This paper presents and progress report with an MSU solar irrigation system at the MSU Student Organic Farm taking into account available solar energy and weather data in this part of the world. The system includes a high velocity DC pump and controller; solar charge regulator; and a data logging equipment. The data logger monitors an energy balance trial of a 1000-watt Polycrystalline solar system and a 880 Ah silicone battery bank. The instrumentation will also monitor the site environmental conditions and provide soil moisture data for calibration of irrigation scheduling software. The location at the Student Organic Farm will provided researchers the opportunity to develop a protocol to reduce water and energy footprint of vegetable production and educational experience for students as well as general public during educational events at the farm. The detailed data provided by this system will be used to develop Extension bulletins and training material for optimum design and efficient operation of solar-powered irrigation systems.

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