[Market-farming] Irrigation Quesion

Road's End Farm organic87 at frontiernet.net
Mon Oct 12 22:06:57 EDT 2009

On Oct 12, 2009, at 12:36 AM, Citheronia at aol.com wrote:

>  We currently own some orchard land and raise poultry, but we're 
> hopefully getting into vegetables next year with a 5 acre plot we 
> recently acquired.
> Here is my situation: our 5 acre plot is approximately 300x 700 deep. 
> There is no municpal water supply at the road and no other water 
> source such as a creek, pond, or existing well. I am curious as to 
> your thoughts for an irrigation source. Do you typically drill a well 
> or wells with pump houses, or is there another method that y'all use. 
> If you are using wells, is it more economically viable to run 
> electricity to the pump houses and have the irrigation on timers, or 
> would gasoline powered pumps run for an hour or two be better?

I would sort out the water source first before you figure out the pump. 
Unless you know what water is available and how deep it is, you don't 
know what pump you need, or how long you'll need (or be able) to run it 
at one time.

There are a lot of areas in New York State where almost any random 5 
acres will support a well with plenty of water for irrigation. There 
are also areas where some 5 acre plots won't give you enough water to 
take a shower in. -- In the Finger Lakes, at least, two such properties 
can be very close to each other: I have neighbors a short distance 
uphill from me with plenty of water, and neighbors a short distance 
downhill with five wells who have to have water hauled in during dry 
spells in order to have anything to drink and wash dishes in. And on 
this hillside, if you keep drilling deeper, you're very likely to hit 
salt water; useless for irrigation. I had to put an irrigation pond in; 
have to use drip irrigation, which requires less water; and I run out 
of irrigation water in long dry spells, as the pond only recharges when 
it's wet.

Talk to your county Soils and Water office, and to local well drillers; 
they should be able to give you some idea what can be expected from 
your property. I wouldn't invest in other components of the system 
until you actually have the well drilled (or the pond built) and can 
check actual production and quality of the water.

-- Rivka; Finger Lakes NY, Zone 5 mostly
Fresh-market organic produce, small scale
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