390 Feasibility of Solar-powered Irrigation for Remote Areas

in HortScience
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  • 1 Rutgers Cooperative Extension, 165 Co. RT 519 So. Belvidere NJ 07823

Remote areas of the United States and developing nations depend on either electric grid extension or diesel power for operating crop irrigation systems. However, electric grid extension is expensive and often impractical. Diesel pumps are expensive, polluting, and require maintenance to operate. Utilizing the energy of the sun, captured by photovoltaic panels, to power irrigation systems offers a cost-effective, pollution-free, and maintenance-free alternative. Solar-powered pumping systems are capable of delivering water from rivers or wells in volumes up to 2000 gal/min. Combining solar power with drip irrigation takes advantage of the natural coincidence of peak energy from the sun and the crop's peak need for water. In 1999, cabbage was grown comparing solar and conventionally powered drip irrigation systems at the Rutgers Univ. Snyder Research and Extension Farm, Pittstown, N.J. The solar system was operated by a 1.5-horsepower motor powered by 18 solar modules.

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