Jug irrigation - designing 10L jugs to drip for 1 week

dwlotterAugust 26, 2013

I have found the GardenWeb community to be extremely resourceful and would like your help. I have searched the Web for expertise on designing drip irrigation from jugs and found nothing, surprisingly. It's proving to be more difficult than one would think to get a 10L jug to drip for one week.

We have a very long dry season here - 8 months. Young and even mid-aged trees die. Discarded 10L drinking water jugs are plentiful.

I want to bury the jugs, lid up, next to trees (labor is cheap here). Plastic will then last for years if out of the sun. Lid up makes it easy to fill them. I drill holes in the bottom of the jugs. I keep the cap on tight, creating a vacuum inside.

The problem is that with the lid loosened the jugs empty out too fast (when even a tiny pin hole is made), and with the lid tightened, even a 2mm diameter hole doesn't leak enough. When I put a tiny pin hole up at the top where air can enter, the water floods out.

Is there any technology out there for converting jugs to drip irrigation? This would involve gluing a valve into the bottom of the jug. The valve would be designed to drip a certain amount per day, with the cap either loosened or tight.

Don Lotter
Dodoma, Tanzania

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10 liters, over 1 week's time, would be 16.8 hours per liter, or about 0.05 liter per hour, which is an incredibly tiny amount. I have never seen a drip control valve that could dispense that accurately at low pressure.

You might be able to use a fiberglass wick at the bottom ... wick dries out and lets in a bit of air, some water gets released, wick gets wet and air stops for a while.

Or insert the wicking through a hole in the side of the jug, to distribute the water slowly via capillary action.

Although, as long as they are getting watered once a week with 10l or multiples of 10L, it shouldn't matter if the jug empties before the week is over, because the water is down there for the roots, and where it can't evaporate. Only very young trees, those in their first year, would need more frequent watering.

I assume you are already using thick mulches to retain water? And using native, deep-rooted trees for optimal survival.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 4:49PM
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I think LG has it right in my opinion. I use Earthtainers for growing tomatoes. Earthtainers waters from below with soil in a basket that touches the water reservoir below the soil. I went to wicking water from below with rope to decrease the amount of moisture moving into the soil by capillary action. It has worked very well for me. Experiment with burying the container between trees and have ropes buried sideways that will move water into the soil laterally from the jug. Experiment with the diameter of the rope needed. I used 5/8" diameter nylon but I think I will use 1/2" next time. JMHO Aloha

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 10:00PM
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