Irrigation System

The Institute for Food Farm has no access to electricity or municipal water. Initially, a well and a pump system were installed, powered by a portable gasoline generator. Because that does not align with the institute's sustainability goals, a portable solar energy system is being designed by faculty and students as an environment-friendly replacement.

Project Team

Three groups of faculty and students are working on designing, installing, and maintaining a renewable energy source as part of the sustainable agriculture operation. This new system is low-cost, portable, and requires no extra power source.

Mark Scott is leading a group of electric/computer engineers to design the electrical hardware. Padmakar Niskode is leading a group of mechanical engineers to develop the mechanical hardware. Ben Jacks, an associate professor of architecture, is leading a group of his students to design a transportable shipping container with enough space to house all infrastructures including solar arrays.

Solar Irrigation vs Conventional Irrigation

enlarged photo of drip irrigation systemThe well and pump system that provides irrigation currently (as of February 2017) uses a centrifugal pump and an induction machine to extract the water from the well and feed the irrigation system. It's powered by a gasoline generator.

Subsequently, the sustainable design system will use a solar photovoltaic (PV) array to stock power to a battery bank. A programmable logic controller will control the valves that trigger the drip irrigation system. A motor will drive the pump and extract water from the well, sending it to the existing pressurized tank.