Solar Well Irrigates SOF fields in collaboration with Biosystems Engineering

A blog post from student crew member who merged his work at the SOF with an internship in his Biosystems Engineering major.

Hey readers!

I'm Conor Crennell and I'm a Biosystems Engineering major at MSU. I worked full-time with the rest of the summer crew through rain, shine, and intense heat. Alongside my normal duties as a summer crew member, I was the resident intern looking after our solar powered irrigation well. This is a project that's been going on at the SOF for a few years and I was glad to be a part of it! It's under the research umbrella of the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering so I was a natural fit for the project considering my experience of being with the SOF since fall 2020 and my major. 

The well is used to irrigate one of two fields, either "Northwest" or "Michigan," and this year it irrigated "Northwest;" pumping sustainable water into our squash field! The project started at the beginning of the summer with me digging a big hole in the field with sensors placed at various depths to keep track of soil moisture below ground. This is crucial to make sure the irrigation system is pumping enough water to saturate the plant roots and to see how deep the water infiltrates through the soil profile. 

We did not use the solar well that often in the first half of the summer, as it was raining every few days. Now that's truly sustainable! Use increased throughout the summer as a dry period took place until relenting later in the season. With school starting and the growing season coming to an end (gotta get those squash out eventually!), I dug out the moisture sensors in early September and now the project is over for the season. All that's left is to analyze the data! 

The infrastructure is permanent on the farm, waiting to be booted up again next season to water whatever beautiful crop it's responsible for! I hope you found this informative. There's more going on around the farm than you know! 

Thanks and happy fall 🙂


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