Black Swallow Living Soils

Tropf-Blumats- an ideal moisture delivery system for your soil

There are a number of reasons for installing an automatic watering system, the largest being consistency and convenience. By automating your watering routine, you insure a consistency that many of us with our busy lifestyles simply cannot provide. Tying your garden or pots into an automatic system of some sort takes the hit-or-miss factor out of the equation, and insures that a watering cycle does not get ‘forgotten’. This is important, as plants grow best when a consistent moisture level is supplied to them.

Equally important however, is the life cycles of the biology in the soil. If the soil is allowed to dry out, then the bacteria, fungi and microbes living in the moist soil fare poorly. Although it may take some time before a plant begins to wilt and show the impact of low soil moisture, the dry soil impact is much more severe on a living organism that has a life cycle of a few days, or even hours. Their life cycles and population numbers are negatively impacted, requiring that they begin to rebuild once the moisture levels have been re established again. And many of these organisms depend upon the soil moisture to be able to mover through the soil matrix. Without the water molecules, these microbes are unable to move through their environment, and are unable to obtain the nutrients they require in order to survive.

Many of the automatic watering systems available are designed to run on timers, delivering a set amount of water at regular times of the day or week. This cycle is set based on the experience of the gardener. But even when careful, experienced consideration is given on the part of the watering system design, it is easy to end up with too much water or too little. The sun and cloud levels can impact the rate at which water is evaporated from the ground, as can the wind levels, altering the daily needs of the soil for moisture. An automatic water delivery system cannot take these factors into consideration.

Tropf-Blumat is a brand of irrigation equipment out of Austria that senses the moisture level in the soil and then delivers water to that soil only when the moisture levels have dropped. At this point, a simple valve is opened in the top of the sensors, allowing the water to flow through a drip tube until the soil moisture levels are established again. Not only does this provide a very consistent level of soil moisture at the base of your plants, but it does so with a very efficient use of that water. A drip water system does not waste any water by spraying it into the atmosphere, or into areas of the garden that do not require the same levels of moisture.

Blumat systems are very easy to set up. An 8 mm plastic tube is used to deliver the water from either a tap or hose that runs on household pressure, or from a reservoir using a gravity fed system. The ‘carrot’ like sensors are placed into the soil, hooked up to the 8 mm water feed line and a 3 mm drip tube then delivers this water very efficiently to the base of your plants. When tying into a pressurized tap or hose, you will require a pressure regulator that screws onto the threaded ¾ tap or hose head. However, the Blumat works equally well when tied into a simple rain barrel or water storage tank. You only need to insure that the container is raised at least one meter above the level of your garden bed in order to insure that you have adequate water flow. There is no need for a pressure regulator in this case.

Once set up, the simplicity of the Blumat system takes over, and a very steady soil moisture level is created. This creates the ideal levels under which microbe and plant health flourishes.

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