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Please pick apart my well/irrigation plan

 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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I want to have an irrigation well put on the back of my property.  I’d like to have a hand pump instead of an electric pump.  The family has a well in Canada on a hand pump that has operated without error for 50 years now. 

Initially I would fill up a livestock tank with water.  The livestock tank would have a splitter on the drain with hose, and some soaker hoses. 

As the water is used, evaporates, or leaks out via soaker hose the water would be pumped to top off the tank.  I figure on needing to pump it a bit daily in the summer.

Then possibly adding a few fish to the tank to provide fish poo in the water for fertilizer.  I used to keep fish in my horses water tanks to keep the skeeters and algae down so I figure chickens and pigs can drink this water too.

Please critique this idea because I’m pretty sure I’m going to do it but there might be reasons that I have not thought of why I shouldn’t.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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The main serious drawback I see is the effort needed to fill the tank.  A foot-powered pump would be more efficient, but I don't know if you can get them in this country.

Irrigating takes a LOT of water.  You might consider augmenting the well with a rain-collection system into the tank, possibly from animal shed roofs.  Or even just using a rain-collection system, spending the well-drilling money on storage tanks and a big shed.

 
Philip Freddolino
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Do you know how deep your well will be ? How much area will you be irrigating?
Fish poo or any silt, slime, organic matter will clog soaker hoses very fast. Soluble nitrates from the fish water will pass through a drip system but you still have to filter the water with min. 120 micron filter first. If your watering individual trees, you could do a branched drain grey water type setup and avoid any filtering issues.   
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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Posts: 1422
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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We won't know how deep for the well until they actually dig it.  In this area, at my elevation, wells are generally in the 60' range.  I have had one when I lived on top of a hill nearby that was over 300' - but I don't expect that to be the case here.

I don't depend on irrigation for my plants - the well is mainly for me to have an alternative to the dreaded city water.  Of course, I want to make perfectly clear for all the DHEC types that this is for irrigation only. 

The hand pump is part of my retirement plan.  I don't ever expect to be completely off the grid but the more that I can do things that don't require money to operate, the less money I will need.

The purpose of having the full livestock tank is to have a reserve of water when I need to wash stuff with the hose, spray my unsuspecting dog or whatever.  Due to evaporation more than anything else I expect to have to pump extra a bit every day – the soaker hose and other hose would be on a slow drip because I don’t want to have stagnant water just sitting there – and while it is dripping it might as well water something.

The fish keep the bugs out. 
I had fish in my horses’ water tanks and they really didn’t create very many solids – but I only had about 5 or 6 small fish for 50 gallons.  I was planning on a 300 gallon tank and initially fill up with my city water.  But even as I am writing this I am thinking about just starting out with the 50 gallon drum because I already have some and they provide enough pressure (from rainwater) for me to hose things off, wash hands etc.

  The problem right now is no rain; to hear the weatherman tell it you would think we are taking a bath  in the midlands of SC.  It is storming all around but boycotting my house.

P.S. on the fish - If you keep tropical freshwater fish you can put them in your livestock tanks for the summer and when you bring them in at winter time they have the most brilliant colors - that is the ones that don't get slurped up by the stock.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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It's one tough retired person who can irrigate with a hand pump .... 
 
Ken Peavey
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Location: FL
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Have a look at http://www.bisonpumps.com/
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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Ken, thank you so much.  A friend told me his experiences with chinese made hand pumps had not been good and he couldn't find another source - you saved me the research - these are made in Maine.

My father in laws' hand pump is over 50 years old and it works like a champ.  FIL is 73 or 74 now, still goes up to Canada several times a year, snowmobiles and black powder hunts.  I am hoping that when I get to be his age I am as vigorous as he is - I'm trying!
 
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