[permaculture] Growing algae in irrigation water?

Dieter Brand diebrand at yahoo.com
Sat Nov 19 05:14:51 EST 2011

Hi, I have a request which may be a little strange and perhaps there is no real answer to it.  Anyways, it does occupy my mind:

I live in a semi-arid region with a prolonged and severe dry season.  So, every drop of water I can save counts.  I have a spring up in the mountain and several water holes which together provide just enough water to irrigate about half an acre during the dry season, if I use it very sparingly.

I recently hit on the idea of letting the irrigation water run through open channels or a series of containers where, under the light of day, algae would form in the water.  I do believe that these algae would have a beneficial effect on the irrigated soil.

The problem is that I don’t want to expose the water directly to the sun since I don’t want to risk that any of it evaporates.  What would be the best way to construct such waterways?  Should I cover them with some sort of semi-transparent shading cloth that is permeable to air?  Or should I use transparent glass or plastic that isn’t permeable to air?  I don’t want the water to heat up under the glass or plastic.  But if I use a shading cloth, I’m not sure that none of it will evaporate.  As I said, I can’t afford to loose a single drop.


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