Operate an Irrigation System With a Well: Here Is How

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Surface water is the most popular water source for irrigation among many gardeners. It’s easier to use with different types of irrigation systems. However, you can still use groundwater from a well and run a successful irrigation system.

An irrigation well uses a pump to get water from an underground source. You only need to install a pump to help you get the water out, just like wells drilled for other purposes, such as domestic use. However, ensure your well has enough water and the pump is strong enough to serve your needs.

In this article, I’ll discuss what you should consider when using a well for irrigation and its pros and cons. I’ll also tell you what pump you need to operate an irrigation system using a well. Keep reading to learn more!

What Do You Need To Consider When Using a Well?

A well is more convenient than tap water when it comes to irrigation, but this depends on the size of the land you’re irrigating. And tap water can be expensive, especially when irrigating a big garden or lawn. 

So, what should you consider when using a well?

You need to consider the well flow rate and the irrigation system when using a well. The two factors will determine what form of irrigation to practice, depending on your needs or preferences.

Now, let’s discuss the two factors in detail:

Well Flow Rate

This is the rate at which your well fills after drawing water out. It’s also the rate at which you can draw water from the well in gallons per minute. Simply put, the well flow rate determines the amount of water available for use in your well. 

This amount depends on its location and its depth. In areas where the aquifer is far from the surface, the well might not have enough water for irrigation and vice versa. 

The well’s depth also determines its water levels. For instance, if the well is too shallow, it might lack enough water. Additionally, it might dry out fast, especially during the dry season. The recommended depth is at least 100 feet (30 meters, but your well can go as deep as 1000 feet (304.8 meters), depending on your location.

The Irrigation System

The irrigation system you plan to use is essential when using a well. You must conserve as much water as possible since groundwater isn’t quickly replenished. Therefore, you need a system that saves water, mainly if you rely on the well for domestic water use. 

A drip irrigation system is ideal when using a well. It’s more localized and ensures that each drop goes directly to the plants without compromising their needs.

A sprinkler system is your best choice if you use the well to irrigate your lawn or a small garden. Although it doesn’t conserve water as well as drip irrigation, it’s the best for irrigating lawns or cover crops. 

These irrigation systems are convenient because they are easy to monitor and control. Additionally, they don’t involve wastage through runoff or deep percolation. To maximize conservation, you can irrigate when it’s not windy or too hot.

The Pros and Cons of Using a Well for Irrigation

Wells can be convenient for irrigation in some–but not all–cases. Hence, weighing the advantages and disadvantages before investing in a well as a water source is crucial.

These include:

Pros of Using Well Water for Irrigation

  • You don’t need to pay for water bills. Unlike tap water, you don’t need to pay for water bills with well water. The only cost comes when drilling and pumping the water.
  • There are no disconnections or rationing experienced with tap water. Sometimes, tap water can be unavailable for long periods, compromising your plants’ growth. On the other hand, well water constantly flows, as long as your well is deep enough and has enough water. 
  • You can irrigate large land areas using well water, unlike tap water. It’s impractical to use tap water for large-scale irrigation. But you can use well water to irrigate several acres of land using sustainable irrigation systems such as drip irrigation.
  • Well water has no additional chemicals: Tap water is treated with chemicals that can compromise your soil. The substances can lead to a pH imbalance in the soil, which is unhealthy for your plants.

Cons of Using Well Water for Irrigation

  • A well is expensive to drill: Drilling a well for irrigation is costly because it requires experts. These professionals need to determine where water is available and the well’s depth. The drilling cost will also depend on the depth. There is also an additional cost for installing a pump and maintaining the well.
  • A well can run dry due to water overuse: If the well isn’t deep enough, it might run dry, especially during the dry season.
  • You rely on a pump: A pump can develop mechanical problems, leaving you without water for days. Thus, your crops may experience water stress or even dry out.

What Pump Do You Need?

You need a robust well irrigation pump to pump enough water, especially if you’re irrigating large tracts of land. You can choose from a centrifugal, deep well turbine, submersible, and propeller pumps.  

The pump you choose depends on several factors, including:

  • The irrigation system. Different irrigation systems require different types of pumps. However, most irrigation systems come with a pump appropriate for the water source.
  • Amount of water. The amount depends on what you’re irrigating. If you’re watering large areas, you need a pump with high horsepower and vice versa. 
  • Well depth. The well’s depth is also vital when selecting a pump. For shallow wells, you can use a centrifugal or a propeller pump. These pumps are designed to pump water from wells with a maximum depth of 20-30 feet (6-9 meters).

If your well is over 100 feet (30 meters), you need a deep well turbine or a submersible pump. These pumps have a high horsepower to pump water from great depth. 

These pumps have different variations and come in many versions. So, ensure you select one that aligns with your needs. The best thing is to talk to an expert who can advise you on the best pump, depending on your water requirements.

Final Thoughts

Wells are great alternatives when surface water isn’t available. However, you must consider the well flow rate and your irrigation system. If the flow rate is low, you may not have enough water. Additionally, choose an irrigation system that helps you conserve water to avoid overuse.

Although wells are expensive to drill and maintain, they give you a constant flow of water. However, you will need to invest in a reliable irrigation pump. Ultimately, you should discuss with an expert whether an irrigation system with a well is the right water source for you.

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