Converting Plastic Drink Bottles into Porous Dispensers of Moisture for Irrigation

Discussion in 'Designing, building, making and powering your life' started by Lumbuck Thornton, Jan 25, 2015.

  1. Lumbuck Thornton

    Lumbuck Thornton Junior Member

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    Porous clay pots have been used in this way for a long time. Many irrigation systems delivering rainwater grows slimes and algae capable of blocking irrigation system drippers.

    Could a buried plastic PVC or PET drink bottle with a hole filed out to neatly jam a poly irrigation pipe into the head be recharged under pressure from a water tank and have as many pin holes as necessary to maintain a steady stream of moisture out into surrounding soil?

    As the holes clog up with algae the bottle could be exposed again and more holes added. The holes that have clogged would not totally stop the passage of moisture and eventually with enough clogged holes there would still be enough moisture leaving to support surrounding plants.

    Maybe putting heaps of pin holes in a bottle and filling the bottle with dispersive suspended clay might help speed up the process of setting up holes that release moisture for the plants if they want it but not streams flow that flood the plant. Has anyone else done this or got any suggestions?

    As the water tank empties the pressure will gradually reduce - how much of an impact would this have on these types of osmotic systems?
     
  2. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    Been doing this for 30 years...

    Steps to reproduce:

    Take bottle, cut off bottom.
    Take lid, poke 4 holes with a nail
    Place lid side down into the soil so only about 1/2" of the bottom sticks up out of the soil.
    Place a few pebbles inside.
    Water and the water will go down to the roots, tomatoes love this.
     
  3. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    like you say, the holes will plug up, or if the plants are close enough they will grow roots towards the container and then into the holes if water remains in the system and there is no dry spell in between irrigations.

    we have used large buckets for this sort of thing and larger holes which make the buckets drain faster, but i can take a wire and stick it down through to unplug the holes when needed. this works ok if your soil has enough clay to hold and spread the moisture from the holes out, but in sand most of the water will go downwards.

    we only have done this for tomatoes as the rest of the plants we grow are not that water sensitive and we have plenty of clay in the soil and also usually plenty of rain.

    obviously as pressure is reduced so does flow outwards. we never did this style of bucket use in any sort of pressurized system. can't get the lids on and off again and still get a good seal each time without a lot of fiddling around. we just leave the lid on loosely (to keep dirt and other debris out) and then add water if there is a dry spell.
     
  4. Lumbuck Thornton

    Lumbuck Thornton Junior Member

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    Packanhoida,

    I probably should have added that over Summer the clay ground forms deep cracks 20mm wide and all the water can escape very guickly. We have started using a plastic liner in the base of our beds and fold down the corners when it rains or the plants water log. Filling up the wet sump in the base of the bed with a few centimeters keeps them watered for a few days but this wet bottle idea might enable watering for longer so we can do other things or travel if we have to.
     
  5. Lumbuck Thornton

    Lumbuck Thornton Junior Member

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    Songbird,

    Good point about the roots. Maybe if I place the bottle on its side in the ground with a few centimetres of dirt cover then mulch. I can pin holes in the top when ever needed and there is less chance of root blockage. The bottle can be rotated if need be to increase the moisture surface area and break off roots. Replenished under tank pressure and gradually blocking. Tomatoes cook on the bush here some days so upkeep of water is critical but I also want to be really sparing with my tank water.
     
  6. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    it sounds like a very tough environment. are you growing or scrounging up covering materials to keep the soil moisture content higher? what about wind flows? temporary shading?
     
  7. Lumbuck Thornton

    Lumbuck Thornton Junior Member

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    Tin fences are only shade and they act like reflectors and air heater the rest of the day! Yes I need to work more on the cover materials but want to get the irrigation system right first !!
     
  8. dreuky

    dreuky Junior Member

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    Have you added gypsum to the soil? My soil (the place I'm leaving) was like yours really heavy clay that turned to clay bricks and cracked in summer. I added lots of horse manure and really huge amounts of gypsum to it. Way more gypsum than what the bag says you need to add, but by doing so you end up with heavy clay loam that doesn't crack and holds water very nicely. At first the clay was so hard that I just spread the gypsum on top and watered it in later as the clay soften a bit I worked it in lower. I know a lot of people don't like disturbing the soil by digging but with "clay brick" soil I think it is necessary at first otherwise it will take years to get a decent soil
     
  9. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    i've never heard of tin fencing before... that sounds pretty extreme.

    yes, get your layout of the main lines in place before covering, but wherever you can after that get your cover, chop-n-drop and shade crops going ASAP. that will help the most over the longer term. gypsum can help as drueky writes, but i've had good results just by leveling and covering and keeping the surface OM in place. any cracks then act as ways for water to infiltrate and for the OM to get down in and for the worms to work at things. kinda like a poor man's keyline plow line, those cracks can go down a ways, might as well use them to add OM if you can.

    i've done similar here (first leveling the area so no OM leaves the site via runoff) and it helps a great deal.
     
  10. Lumbuck Thornton

    Lumbuck Thornton Junior Member

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    Colorbond to 2m now in all new modern, un-environmentally friendly, brick veneer ticky tacky estates.

    Got to get a water tank in too - one thing they do have is big roof catchments.

    What is OM? Organic Material I guess - here is me going through the periodic table !!!
     
  11. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    OM - Organic Matter

    When in doubt, OM it out. :D

    Seriously though, as you feed the soil, that becomes less of a problem and you can go back to doing what I did.
     
  12. Lumbuck Thornton

    Lumbuck Thornton Junior Member

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    Just a little update on the experiments..... tried lots of pin holes - hard to regulate and seem to clog too much so gone to making holes larger maybe 1-2mm but got the idea of partly filling the bottle up with dirt, clay that is dispersive and organic matter and using larger holes so the holes are not the only regulation of flow. Seems that is should work well and cost virtually nothing. The pressure could be varied as well.
     

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