Angela Aragon

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since Jul 30, 2013
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Recent posts by Angela Aragon

Thank you everyone. My small farm is in what 100-150 years ago was a tropical cloud forest in Nicaragua. This land was cleared first for timber, then planted with crops for about 2 years until the soil ecosystem collapsed and it could not support any crops. It finally was converted to pasture, dominated by Bermuda grass, and was overgrazed year after year. This story is repeated over and over in the tropics. It still is occurring in the rainforests in the Atlantic region of Nicaragua (supposedly protected land).

We know that forest floors are fungally dominated. Given what Red Hawk wrote, I suspect that the soil on my farm used to be fungally dominated and lost that balanced ecosystem a long time ago when the tropical cloud forest was cleared. This allowed organisms like root-knot nematode to flourish. Indeed, entire coffee crops are lost to its infestation in this region.

For the past five years, I have been in the process of restoring my 8.5 acres by planting trees and shrubs. There have been numerous setbacks, including major challenges associated with climate change. However, I can look out over the land now and see that things are moving in the right direction.
1 year ago
If you have ever had a root-knot nematode problem in your soil, you are aware of the devastation they can cause. I was thinking about what causes this problem. To use an analogy, about 50% of the world's human population carries the bacterium Helicobacter pilori in their gut. However, only a small percentage of these individuals experience the paralyzing gastrointestinal problems that it can cause. This is because most of the time it is in a state of balance with other microorganisms in the gut and its population never reaches the level where it can cause problems.

I suspect that something similar is happening with so-called bad soil nematodes like root-knot. The system is out of balance, allowing the root-knot population to surge above normal levels and cause problems.

Does anyone know how this process occurs in the soil and how to restore it back to a balanced system?
1 year ago
Does anyone here grow tumeric? I am interested in obtaining rhizomes of different varieties that people may be growing.
2 years ago
You are right, Peter. The proposed double-tank system, as described, would not be practical. However, I want to say that I appreciate the suggestion and all of the other responses to my questions that I have received. I am trying to educate myself and you guys have been a big help!
2 years ago
I am back with another question about batteries. The batteries that the solar store recommended to me in their original quote for the backup system were the following:

12V/110AH/20HR deep cycle AGM-GEL combination made by Master Solar.

They recommended that I use two of these. I recognize the nomenclature: 12V = 12 volt battery; 110AH = 110 amp hours; 20HR = 20 hours?

If 20HR indeed is 20 hours, does this mean that the battery can run for a maximum of 20 hours at 110AH before it needs to be recharged?

If one battery is 110AH, does this mean that you can get 220AH if the two are connected?

I had originally asked for a quote from the solar outfit here to run my aquaponics system, powered by a 92 watt submersible AC water pump in continuous use (24 hours), completely with solar. But I had a major sticker shock when I saw the quote, which prompted me to go in the direction of a backup system charged off the grid electric system that I wrote about here in previous posts.

In the original quote, they said I need 4 of the batteries listed above connected to produce 24V to adequately run the 92-watt pump 24 hours continuously with 3 - 100-watt solar panels. I assumed at the time that I needed the 3 panels to keep the batteries adequately charged. However, now I am not so sure. The pump only uses 92-watts per hour. That is less than one 100-watt light bulb in continuous use.

However, my reason for writing is to understand amp hours. I found a website that guides you to determine your battery needs. Below are the calculations to run my pump.

Pump: 92 watts X 24 hours = 2208 watts
Independence: 3 days - 2208 X 3 = 6624 watts
Battery drain:  40% - 6624 ÷ 0.4 = 16,560 watts
Amps required: 16,560 ÷ 24V = 690AH

These calculations, if correct, indicate that I need 690AH? to run the pump continuously. However, the 4 batteries that they recommended are only 110AH each. Any way you slice it, I cannot get that battery configuration to add up to the 690AH that the calculations say that I will need.

Am I missing something? Originally, I had thought that the four batteries were overkill, but after doing the calculations above, it seems that they might be insufficient.
2 years ago
I am back with yet another question. I was talking with a neighbor today about my inverter situation and suggestions that I had received here at the Permies Forum. He has a solar system consisting of 3 panels and 4 deep-cycle 110AH batteries that he had installed about 3.5 years ago to power a well pump. (The same outfit that gave me the outrageous quote to solve my needs also installed his system.)

He warned me not to get so preoccupied about the inverter that I forget about the battery bank. He said that when the solar outfit installed his system, he asked if he could scale up later if he wanted to. They gave an affirmative response. He said that he noticed that the charge controller indicated that his panels were generating more power than his battery bank could accommodate during peak hours, so about a year ago he called the solar outfit and asked if he could add two more batteries to his current bank of four. They responded that he could not, that he would have to replace his entire battery bank. It seems that if you add new batteries to an existing system, the older ones will damage them.

Needless to say, my neighbor was really angry. He specifically asked them if he could scale up the system and they had said yes. Apparently, their definition of scaling up was radically different from his.

Is it true that you cannot add new batteries to an existing bank?
2 years ago
Thank you everyone for your help with this. I have a bunch of options to consider now and I really appreciate that. You guys are the best!
2 years ago
Thanks for the advice. I really appreciate it. Finding a back UPS that works may prove difficult for me where I am. However, I am looking. I read some concerns about modifying UPS. Most center on cautions that the circuitry of back UPS is not adequate for charging deep-cycle batteries. Do you have any thoughts on this?

I also have been thinking about other solutions in case the UPS route does not work for me. The first is to question whether I actually need a 600 watt inverter for the task. The water pump is 92 watts/120 volts. The task is to maintain 2 deep-cycle batteries fully charged in the event that there is a power outage. A 600-watt inverter presupposes a 1:6 surge capacity is needed to accommodate the switch from grid power to the batteries. Information that came with the pump does not address surge, so I have written and asked them. Of course, I do not even know if there will be a surge when the source of power switches from the grid to batteries.

In any event, a 600-watt inverter seems extreme for the job. However, I am a newbie and I could be way off base on this.
2 years ago
I would like to include a solar back up for my aquaponics system during times of power outages. We have reliable service at our location, but we do experience occasional outages. They are almost always intentional by the electric company to service the system and can last for up to 8 hours.

In an aquaponics system, backup really only is needed for the fish tank. The fish will suffocate after about 30 minutes without continuous oxygenated water. I have a 60-watt AC air pump to accomplish this when there is a power outage.

I consulted with a local solar provider about setting up a system that would charge a battery or battery bank that would supply AC current through an inverter to run this pump if the power goes out. I suspect that the system might also need a switch to dectect when regular power fails and initiate use of battery power. To be on the safe side, I would like enough a battery capacity to run the air pump for 12 hours (720 watts?) However, I do not need this capacity every day, but only when the regular power goes out.

The solar provider has given me a quote for a system that costs almost $1,200. This seems outrageous to me, particularly given the fact that the air pump only cost me $50! The inverter alone is $544 (with tax):

MAGNUM INVERTER MM612 600W, 120VAC,12VDC, Modified Sine

SSEALED BATERIES (2)  12V-100AH are $376.

The rest is cost for cables and connectors and labor.

They did not recommend solar panels to charge the batteries. Instead, they said they we could use regular electric to charge them through the inverter.

I am writing here for a second opinion.
2 years ago
Has anyone tried to connect 55-gallon plastic drums together end to end? Let me be specific. I am interested in connecting several 55-gallon drums together to form a large drain pipe.

I live in the mountains of Nicaragua. During the rainy season, we can get substantial rainfall events. Instant streams are created at higher altitudes that pour water down on my farm (at times at a rate of 10-20 gallons per second) and have dug an erosion ditch that in places is nearly six feet deep. My goal is to divert some of this water away from its normal path in the erosion ditch as a means of eventually controlling the problem.

I already have dug the diversion ditch, but do not want to cause yet another erosion problem on the property. Thus, I came up with the idea of linking 55-gallon drums together to form a tube that the water can flow through. Before anyone mentions it, I do not have the funds to hire a construction crew to install a standard concrete tube system and, even if I did, I doubt that I could get them to come up to my farm to do the job in the first place.

Could I use PVC adhesive to connect the drums?

I have scoured the Internet looking for examples of this, but all I can find are examples of people connecting the drums to store rainwater collected from a roof. It is hard to believe that others have not tried this. Of course, one reason that I have been unable to find any examples is because it does not work! I hope that this is not the case.
2 years ago