Drip irrigation is an ideal application for solar pumping. The inherently rural nature of agriculture leads to a high upfront cost to bringing grid power to the fields. The cost of diesel in rural and remote areas makes diesel generators or diesel driven pumps impractical.
Historically, drip irrigation has been deployed using one large, central pump coupled with an industrial variable frequency drive or a large shaft driven diesel pump. The central pump distributes water to numerous zones via a series of valves. This architecture has multiple inefficiencies and limitations. The centralized pump and motor drive represent single points of failure for the entire system. The centralization of a single pump also creates challenges in keeping numerous irrigation zones balanced and requires multiple zoning valves.
By moving to a distributed architecture where each zone is powered by its own autonomous solar powered pump with a VFD controller, all of these issues are eliminated. There is no longer any single point of failure. Each zone can now be individually controlled allowing for easier flexibility in managing a variety of crops. The operating expense of powering a large industrial pump off of either the power grid or diesel goes away. Since the smaller pumps are manufactured at such dramatically higher volumes than the larger devices, the overall capex investment also is reduced.
The PicoCell’s sensor management capabilities allow for the zone specific integration of soil moisture and other sensors. The integrated WiFi or cellular communications module allows for the remote management of the system at a very granular level.