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Home  > Question of the Week

Question of the Week

Permalink What information can you give me on types of pumps that can be used to irrigate vegetables from a pond or stream?


Answer: Thank you for your recent request for information from ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service regarding pumping and filtering for your farm drip irrigation system.

Refer to the table "Factors to Consider in Selecting an Irrigation Pump" at the end of the article "Irrigation Water Pumps" from North Dakota State University. Of the ones listed, the centrifugal and propeller-type pumps would be applicable to your operation as they are portable and can be used with a variety of water sources.

Given the size of your operation and the nature of your irrigation source water a portable propeller type pump seems to be the most suitable and affordable for your operation. Most drip irrigation supply places sell portable Honda pumps that work well and are affordable for small scale operations.

Since you are planning on using drip irrigation, it is important to include a sand media filter with your pump. They always include two tanks that are suited for removing organic material and biological contaminants commonly found in surface water.

Filters are essential to the operation of a drip system. Many devices and management techniques are available for cleaning irrigation water. Depending on the water source, settling ponds, self-cleaning suction devices, sand separators, media filters, screen filters, and disk filters are used with drip irrigation systems (Lamont-no date). Keeping a drip system free of debris is critical because most clogs will irreparably disable a system. The filtering system is typically set up between the pump and the sub-main line. Unfortunately a filtration system that filters out the debris is quite expensive. There are some economical alternatives, but even these are quite pricey compared to a simple screen filter. I would suggest calling an irrigation supply company such as Dripworks or RainFlo to discuss with a sales representative which filtration system would work for your specific scale and water source.

The Pennsylvania State University Ag Alternatives Program has a succinct information sheet on setting up a drip system for a vegetable farm. This would be a good thing to read before calling an irrigation supply store. You can access this publication at the following link:

Lamont Jr., William, et al. (no date). Drip Irrigation for Vegetable Farms. The Pensylvania State University Ag Alternatives Program.

Scherer, Thomas. 1993. Irrigation Water Pumps. AE1057. North Dakota State University Extension.

Further Resources:
Morris, Mike and Larry Schwankl. 2008. The California Micro-Irrigation Pocket Book. This is an NCAT publication, but we no longer have copies of it. You can obtain a copy from your county NRCS office.



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