Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bucket Drip Irrigation

I received this photo today from Kyomya, Uganda. Click on picture to enlarge. The system is described below courtesy of Ken Hargesheimer at NABUUR.com

The bucket must be suspended at least l meter above the ground. A tube is connected to the dripline and the other end is placed in the bucket to siphon the water out. Assuming the bucket is 20 liters, fill it twice for each row of vegetables. The dripline can be moved to another row for irrigating. Each row of vegetables is irrigated every other day. Plant a row of vegetables on each side of the dripline and use 40 liters of water.

Bucket Kits
The key to the simple drip irrigation system that we use is the gravity fed "bucket kit". The bucket kit consists of four 8m lines [or two of 50 ft or one of 100’] of drip tape connected to a bucket suspended 1m above the vegetable bed. Water is poured into the bucket and is evenly distributed to 100 watering points. By filling the bucket twice a day, a small kitchen garden can be watered. Studies in Kenya have shown that two of these kits can provide the water needed to produce enough vegetables to feed a family of seven during the dry season. These bucket kits are available in most countries (US$15), save water, save labor, and are easy to use. Go to Chapinlivingwaters.org.

Using sleeves
Farmers in Honduras invented a VERY cheap drip irrigation system. They buy the regular black poly hose. Then they punch holes in it where they want them with a nail or ice pick. A hot nail is best. Then take short sections [5 inches] of the same hose, cut it lengthwise to form a sleeve, and place a sleeve over each hole. This sleeve applies pressure to the hole, only letting a little water out, like a drip. This technology is quite cheap, VERY simple to do. Maintenance is also simple, because if a hole plugs up, you can often unplug it merely by taking the sleeve off and then replacing it.

Using screws
Farmers in Nicaragua are using cheap round tubing and wood screws. If drip tape is unavailable, this is a great alternative. We tried it with great success. The screw is inserted completely into the tubing at each planting location so that it protrudes through the opposite wall. It is then backed off to allow water to drip through that side. The flow is set by screwing it in or out as needed. This even allows for variations in pressure due to terrain.

DIY drip kit:
Roger Pigott [San Diego workshop] decided to use two bucket drip systems on a bed in the garden but he did not want to siphon the water. Kits from Echonet.org are $25 each. He went to the hardware store and purchased: 100' of ½" black poly tubing; a post to hang buckets on; a faucet rosette washer and nut; ¾" ring washers; ¾" swivel tubing adapter; union - ¾" pipe threads and garden hose threads. One for each bucket. He drilled a 3/4 inch hole in the bottom of the buckets and installed the fittings. He then connected the tubing from the buckets to a header. He has five driplines connected to the header using tees and ells. He used wood screws for the drip outlets. There is about 60' of dripline. He planted seed in the five rows and laid the dripline over the seed. Very original thinking!

Buy enough hose to connect the drip line to the top of the bucket to siphon out the water. It takes about 1-2 hours for the bucket to empty. The dripline can be moved to another row of vegetables or plant a row of vegetables on each side of the dripline. Use more water. If one is willing to carry the water, one line will irrigate several rows during the day.

Plant green manure/cover crops to cut and leave on top of the soil to improve the soil. This is a MUST. Also, can be intercropped with the food crop.

Ken Hargesheimer


  1. It seems very interesting about this type of drip irrigation.. The bucket drip irrigation is a nice method as far if it is the process explained by you.. It will definitely yield us more
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  2. I have heard so much about this type of irrigation system. It seems to be one of the interesting way to use water efficiently where there is shortage of water. I want to learn the overall implementation of this process too. Irrigation Systems

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