Sunday, January 6, 2013

Growing Fodder (part 5) - Irrigation

Since Fodder needs to be watered several times a day to successfully grow, I needed to install automated irrigation into the Fodder System that I had just built.  Hand watering was getting old!

If you missed the earlier "Growing Fodder for my Goats" posts, you can access them here:

Growing Fodder Part 1
Growing Fodder Part 2
Growing Fodder Part 3
Growing Fodder Part 4

I had several ideas of how I was going to automate watering the Fodder....  At first I thought about putting tubs full of water below the shelves.  I could set up a timer on an electric outlet to plug a pump into to move the water up through tubing to water the trays from the top.  Then, let the water drain back down into the tubs.  After testing this idea on a small scale, I realized that the water in the tubs would sort of ferment between watering times.  I didn't want to water the Fodder with fermented water ... so that idea was out.  I decided to only use fresh water for the system.  I felt that this would cut down on the possibilities of mold growth ... and the funny aroma of fermented water!

Sometimes the simplest solution to a problem is right in front of your face.  The water access for the washer was only a couple of feet from the end of the shelves.  There was my water source!

Water for the washer was at the end of the shelves


I decided to water from the top and let the water drip down through the trays on the shelves.  The water would be caught in the drain trays (re-purposed RV tanks) and drained outside through the pipe through the wall.   I'll only be watering for a few minutes 4 times a day, so there will be minimal water used.


Here's how I set up the Irrigation for my Fodder System .....

I purchased these items from my local home improvement store:

Regular plastic 1/2 inch Drip Irritation Tubing

Zip Ties 

A Hole Punch for the tubing (and oops plugs for mistakes) 

An Electronic Water Timer 

Hose End Connectors for the tubing 

Adjustable Drippers 

End Clamps for the tubing 

Ys with shutoffs


I cut the tubing to fit the length of the shelving and zip tied it to the pipes of the top shelf.  I built the system to have 8 shelves.  I need 7 shelves for the fodder trays ... one shelf for each day of the week.  The pipes of the top shelf are the perfect place to secure the irrigation system directly above the trays on the shelves below.

I started with only one irrigation tube just in case I would need to change my design plan.  I used the punch tool to make the holes in the tubing to receive the adjustable drippers.

Punching the holes (it was very easy) 

Then I pushed the adjustable dripper into the hole.  The drippers can be adjusted from off to 1 gallon a minute for water flow.  I really like these!  I installed 2 drippers over each tray.

Pushing the Dripper into the hole 

The Dripper in place 

I installed the Hose Ends on one end of the tubing and the Clamps on the other end.


Time to hook up to the water and give it a test!

It worked! ... Yes, I was excited.

I had to make some adjustments to the drippers for water flow.  They were set on full flow when I installed them and I got water everywhere!  Adjusting them is very easy though.

The test was successful ... now to complete the irrigation system. 


I put a Y on the cold water line in order to share it with the washer and the Fodder irrigation system.

Hose attached to the Y to bring water to the system 

An arrangement of Ys with shutoffs to feed each of the 3 irrigation tubes 

The 3 irrigation tubes zip tied directly over the rows of trays 

A side view of the irrigation tubes and drippers 

The irrigation system in operation.

I will be installing the Electronic Water Timer to automate the watering of the Fodder system.  I'm very happy with how the system is coming together and functioning.  I'll calculate the cost of all the parts to include in the Growing Fodder Part 6 post.  I'll also discuss how the system is working for me.



Linda said...

Awesome! Looking forward to part 6!

Rogue Wild said...

great setup! are the tubs at the bottom catching all the water? are you having any water run along the structure and drip outside the tubs? Looking forward to part 6!

One Acre Farm Rabbits said...

Thank you for a marvelous blog series! We are wanting to get started with growing fodder for our rabbits. One question....was there a reason you did not attach the water hoses directly over the last row of tubs? I was thinking that it would be less messy that way, but wanted to hear your thoughts. Again, your posts are fantastic and super helpful to those just getting started!