Solar powered livestock watering systems

Streambanks on Dick Lester's pasture are recuperating after one 12 months with the improvements to his grazing system.December 2008

Solar panel systems that provide power to push liquid due to their livestock watering system tend to be enabling cattleman Dick Lester, owner of Spring Valley Ranch in Cherokee County, and operators Britt and Mark Carlson to higher use their particular pasture, conserve money, lower streambank erosion, and enhance cattle performance regarding the remote 650-acre pasture.

Lester is one of a number of northwest Iowa livestock producers to make usage of the solar-powered watering system recently. Lester's system had been prepared, put in and cost-shared through Iowa Lakes Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D), based in Spencer. Jeff Kestel, Iowa Lakes RC&D coordinator, called Lester's livestock watering requires a "worst-case situation" in terms of the distance and level water must be moved.

When Lester bought their Cherokee County home a few years ago, he believed he needed better using the hilly pasture, and an improved water origin compared to creek running right through the pasture. Their solar-powered system includes three watering tanks, each elevated and out of the creek.

Lester's brand-new watering system had been completed at the beginning of 2008, and cattle grazed the pasture with very good results. "The placement of the watering tanks allowed better forage usage, " he stated. "If you increase the hills now, you can view the cattle utilized the entire pasture." The Carlsons say their 300-head of cattle of purebred Angus cattle are no much longer altogether, but disseminate close to the liquid tanks, that they fancy.

Erosion control and liquid quality advantages could be related to the solar power pumping system. Like, streambanks along Lester's creek tend to be recovering with signs of decreased erosion and vegetative growth, this means cleaner liquid with less sediment buildup. "Livestock avoid the creek today, which reduces streambank erosion, " says Brian Peterson, state grassland professional with USDA's All-natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). "The banks are not any longer bare, and that's because cattle have access to other liquid."

Kestel points to a sensor that creates water to-be moved to a watering container on Dick Lester's pasture in Larrabee, IA. (L-R) Cherokee County District Conservationist Renee Braun, Kestel, Dewey Stouffer of Little Sioux Prairie Company, NRCS State Grassland professional Brian Peterson, and Jim Stanzel of minimal Sioux Prairie appearance on Lester says it is amazing exactly how quickly grass gone back to the streambanks since installing the newest solar watering system. "anyone can observe that it's method better the land, " he stated.

The solar-powered watering system provides expense and energy savings, also. Lester conserved money on installation, choosing not to ever run electricity to their remote pasture site for pumping energy. The outlying electric cooperative (REC) that solutions northern Cherokee County estimates it might cost Lester about $4.75 per foot, or more than $20, 000, to operate electrical energy to their water pump. "i love the thought of solar powered energy rather than depending on electrical energy from the grid to operate it, " he said. "The pasture is a great mile off the roadway. This is certainly quite a distance to perform electrical energy."

Lester states the solar-powered system will save him money in the long-run, also. "Once you've installed the device, that is the end from it, " he said. With an electric powered pump, Lester would spend about $30 in basic month-to-month fees, not including the cost to run the pump.

Another advantage of the solar-powered system is livestock wellness. Peterson states cattle remain in good shape once they have access to clean, reliable liquid.

So how exactly does the solar driven system work?

Kestel says Lester's brand new watering system is extraordinary in size and scope. Liquid is delivered through the creek through a pea gravel trench, hidden 15 feet underground, to a helical rotary pump. Eight 175-watt solar power panels power the pump that sends liquid through 4, 600 feet of pipe to 3 watering tanks, achieving elevations of 150 foot above the pump.

solar power panels absorb sunshine to run a helical rotary pump. Dewey Stouffer, of minimal Sioux Prairie Company, setup Lester's solar driven livestock watering system. He states liquid levels inside tanks signal the pump to include liquid. "if you have need for liquid, a valve opens up, and the stress container products liquid before the pressure is gone, " he said. "it pumps nine gallons of liquid each and every minute within the slope before the tank shuts off. The device will pressurize once more and shut off."

Stouffer claims how big is pump and number of solar power panels you will need varies according to the number of cattle, water origin, amount of raise and how far liquid has to be pumped. He stated no electric batteries may take place. "we are storing liquid in the huge liquid tanks rather than saving electricity in battery packs, " he said.

Solar-powered systems, like Lester's, depend on sunlight to build power to the pump, but Kestel says cattle generally cannot drink as much water if it is cloudy or rainy anyhow. "The tanks tend to be big enough that cattle have reserve liquid for nights and cloudy times, " he said. Also on summer time days with complete cloud cover, Kestel claims the pump will operate, but at a decreased rate.

Exactly how much does the system price?

Kestel estimates many solar pumping livestock watering methods will definitely cost $5, 000-$7, 000, depending on the style of pump, few water tanks, legs of pipe, quantity of solar panels and hours of work required for hire.

The life span span of system is about two decades. Stouffer advises keeping the solar power panels clean for maximum performance. It's also crucial the solar energy panels and pump are grounded properly.

RC&D Projects Helped Natural Resources, Economic Development

Jeff Kestel, Iowa Lakes Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) coordinator, helped guide a few livestock manufacturers in northwest Iowa through their solar-powered livestock watering system capital, setup and installation. Iowa Lakes RC&D partnered with Iowa NRCS to present 75 percent cost-share to cover the tasks through Conservation Specialized help (CTA) resources.

Iowa Lakes RC&D is regarded as 17 councils in Iowa and 375 councils nationally that works well to produce jobs, shield environmental surroundings and improve well being in outlying communities. Kestel said the solar power pumping livestock watering task is a perfect example of a great RC&D task. "It involves looking for funds, using a few manufacturers on natural resource-based jobs and cooperating with NRCS offices and earth and water preservation districts, " he said. "It is a business development task for Dewey (Stouffer), who's today an area specialist for solar equipment. The solar pumping project features benefited both normal sources and financial development for our location."

Solar Pumps Eligible Through EQIP

Products, equipment and installation for solar-powered livestock watering methods are eligible for financial and technical help through the 2009 ecological high quality Incentives plan (EQIP). EQIP is a voluntary conservation system that promotes farming production and environmental quality. Go to the local NRCS industry office for extra information.

Source: www.nrcs.usda.gov
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