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Solar powered remote food plot irragation system project

tn4hunting

5 year old buck +
I've been bored and I have two food plots on the top of mountains and no way to get water to them except transport it.
Where I'm at only need water for a few days in July and early August

This year this is what i built.
1. 4 275 gallon totes (tandom) - for rain collection
2. 2 solor powered irrigation pumps
3. 12 volt timer added so i can set times and date to water
4. 2 fields about 1 acre each.
5. got all parts at harbor freight for about 160 bucks each set up.
These will be set up and leave type systems... At least that's what i hope..lol

I'm only going to water half of the fields because i know i won't have enough water to cover the acre. If i can make half super lush I'll take it if the rain is in short supply!

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Thoughts. concerns i might run into?
 

WeedyJ

5 year old buck +
Just curious to see if that'll be enough water. And I'm sure you'll have a cover on the totes to prevent evaporation. Are you gonna have a flat collection device like a small roof and run pipe into it for collection?
 

tn4hunting

5 year old buck +
yeah i will have the totes with a collection tarp feeding into the opening with a screen and rocks to weight it down. the trick is to tie the tarp to the edge of trees or out in the field via tpost. I will have the totes in tandem so only one tarp collecting water.

I'm the same on the amount of water but I'm thinking to try and bridge between rains not necessarily constant watering. However, I'm hoping i can run it at least once a week but we'll see.
 

WeedyJ

5 year old buck +
Then the only thing I would say is if you're gonna hook the totes together, why not either get a bigger tank OR just add more totes. Those totes aren't expensive from what I remember. Especially since you're doing such a good job elsewhere!
 

breddick

5 year old buck +
What's the distance from the plot to the nearest water source? Well, pond, house, etc?

I looked at irrigation ideas for my farm and at the end of the day some long cheap water hoses will go a long way and you can't beat the simplicity.
 

swat1018

5 year old buck +
Good luck. It takes 27,000 gallons of water to put an inch on an acre...
 

tn4hunting

5 year old buck +
thanks, yeah i know but again this is to just keep it from completely drying up during a dry spell.

plus i'm bored and something i can work on at home...lol
 

buckdeer1

5 year old buck +
That is true about amount of gallons per acre but truth be told it doesn't take an inch of rain to keep a food plot fdrom dying.I have it alittle easier as there was a drilled well withing a couple hundred feet from mine.I use a low level well pump and drop a couple pieces of pipe down the well with a foot valve on it and hook to generator.Fill with gass and it pumps water for a couple hours.Your issue may be getting pressure to water more than a 20ft diameter area
 

tn4hunting

5 year old buck +
That is true about amount of gallons per acre but truth be told it doesn't take an inch of rain to keep a food plot fdrom dying.I have it alittle easier as there was a drilled well withing a couple hundred feet from mine.I use a low level well pump and drop a couple pieces of pipe down the well with a foot valve on it and hook to generator.Fill with gass and it pumps water for a couple hours.Your issue may be getting pressure to water more than a 20ft diameter area

I agree last summer my plots were really lush then we didn't get rain for about 10 days and since the soil is so rocky part of the food plot died back. I just want to target those spots.

yeah, I'm going to run a test at the house but I do believe the pump size might not support two sprinklers at longer runs with high pressure. Supposedly this pump will drive two sprinklers on a 60 ft run. That's why I'm looking to target a smaller area in the beginning.

I have a well and year round creek on the property but it's at the bottom and i would need a 300 ft of lift plus pressure..lol No telling the cost to set something like that up!!
 

S.T.Fanatic

5 year old buck +
No matter how much rain you get if you were to fertilize, lime, and irrigate right in front of your stand Id bet that is the area the deer would spend a disproportionate amount of time on.
 

tn4hunting

5 year old buck +
No matter how much rain you get if you were to fertilize, lime, and irrigate right in front of your stand Id bet that is the area the deer would spend a disproportionate amount of time on.
I agree and that's part of my goal..lol
 

tn4hunting

5 year old buck +
What's the distance from the plot to the nearest water source? Well, pond, house, etc?

I looked at irrigation ideas for my farm and at the end of the day some long cheap water hoses will go a long way and you can't beat the simplicity.
yeah my issue is the lift. from my well to the top food plot is over a 300 foot lift up a steep ridge then over a ridge top. I haven't found a pump that will do that lift with a reasonable total price. This set up i'll have a few hundred dollars invested.
 

tn4hunting

5 year old buck +
Then the only thing I would say is if you're gonna hook the totes together, why not either get a bigger tank OR just add more totes. Those totes aren't expensive from what I remember. Especially since you're doing such a good job elsewhere!
I have a 350 gallon on one plot and then buying two 275 gallon totes for the upper food plot. If this performs well then you are right i might add and expand.
 

tn4hunting

5 year old buck +
I tested it today and on a 50 foot hose it pumped out a 27 foot radius with one sprinkler so now to test two sprinklers. I thought that wasn't bad for such a small pump
 

buckdeer1

5 year old buck +
Can you pull a trailer up there
 

tn4hunting

5 year old buck +
Can you pull a trailer up there
Trailer can be pulled up be it has to be a small trailer and i think the tank would be too small.

Are you thinking pull a trailer with a tote full of water and water pump attached?
 

Catscratch

5 year old buck +
No matter how much rain you get if you were to fertilize, lime, and irrigate right in front of your stand Id bet that is the area the deer would spend a disproportionate amount of time on.
I have plots in my yard. Every once in a while I run a hose and sprinkler out there and spend a few days watering a patch if it's been particularly dry. Green during a dry spell can be a major attractant.
 

yoderjac

5 year old buck +
It is a cool project for sure, but I have evolved toward a different philosophy, sustainability. I've begun to ask myself this question. If I'm constantly putting energy into my QDM efforts, what happens when I stop? Have I made deer come to depend on the energy I'm putting in on an annual basis? What happens when I stop? This could happen for reasons well outside my control. So, lets take an extreme example. I don't do this, but what happens if you provide supplemental food like corn piles or feeders or whatever. Over time your deer adapt to that higher level of food availability. When it is suddenly stopped, you've created a sudden imbalance. Natures way of correcting a sudden imbalance is starvation, disease, and such.

Now, lets take an example of something that I used to do and many folks still do, traditional food plotting. Farmers can sustain high intensity commercial farming because it is commercial. As long as the money they sell for sufficiently exceeds the cost of production, it can go on for years. When we do this for QDM, unless there is some commercial inflow, it is time, money and effort on the input side and only enjoyment on the output side, at least financially. So, this is not sustainable over the long haul. Even if I can keep doing it for my lifetime, who knows if someone will have the same interests and ethic when my stewardship time on the land is over.

This is one reason I've turned to a soil health focus. I've been planting more acreage with lower densities of less demanding crops without fertilizer. By reducing or eliminating tillage, the natural nutrient cycling is returned. With targeted foods for stress periods, this benefits deer just as much as the higher intensity farming techniques at a lower cost. What happens when I stop? I leave healthy soil behind. Native weeds will take over, many of which are great deer food, it will slowly return to early successional timber. Nothing changes suddenly. This gives deer populations time to adapt to the changes.

For the same reason, I'm converting many of my smaller food plots into "wildlife openings" and planting no long-term maintenance permaculture like persimmon trees that grow natively in my area. Those trees will continue to produce deer food long after I'm gone with no help from whomever follows.

Your objectives may be quite different from mine. But I have to ask, if you are successful and then stop, what will the impact be? Just food for thought, not criticism.

Thanks,

jack
 

breddick

5 year old buck +
Jack's post above is full of great info. I agree 100%

Huge revelations on my farm this year when I did as jack suggests and really focused on soil health. Year after year I worked my butt off tilling and working ground and planting... After all that's what the directions on the "Bag a buck" told me to do. Without fail half the time the plots did poorly and most of the time is was due to lack of moisture which either delayed planting or stressed / killed a growing plot. Like the OP I thought of all sorts of ways to try to get more water onto the plot.

This year I made the change and had a eureka moment. Invested in a small no till drill. Planted mid August with plenty of hot weather still on the forecast for northern Arkansas.

While several friends watched their plots burn up or waited to plant till mid / late September I got to watch my plots sit very happily through the dry spells.

I'll never go back. This was year one of the no-till process. I'm anxious to see how future years go as I continue to build the soil and kill off the grass / weeds. Never turning the ground over again!

In a nutshell. Don't just focus on getting water onto the plot. Focus on keeping it there!
 

tn4hunting

5 year old buck +
Jack's post above is full of great info. I agree 100%

Huge revelations on my farm this year when I did as jack suggests and really focused on soil health. Year after year I worked my butt off tilling and working ground and planting... After all that's what the directions on the "Bag a buck" told me to do. Without fail half the time the plots did poorly and most of the time is was due to lack of moisture which either delayed planting or stressed / killed a growing plot. Like the OP I thought of all sorts of ways to try to get more water onto the plot.

This year I made the change and had a eureka moment. Invested in a small no till drill. Planted mid August with plenty of hot weather still on the forecast for northern Arkansas.

While several friends watched their plots burn up or waited to plant till mid / late September I got to watch my plots sit very happily through the dry spells.

I'll never go back. This was year one of the no-till process. I'm anxious to see how future years go as I continue to build the soil and kill off the grass / weeds. Never turning the ground over again!

In a nutshell. Don't just focus on getting water onto the plot. Focus on keeping it there!
Great feedback and I understand what yoderjac is saying.
Today I'm only growing perennial clover and frost seeding with weed control in the spring. I am liming and fertilizing due to poor soil conditions.

I agree on long term sustainability with as little effort as possible because I love hunting but it's not a full time hobby. I just enjoy the woods and love seeing a nice buck in the fall.

That is a different way to think about it and probably will help me scale back my long term plans of water, food and minerals for the deer.
 
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