Developing the long-term infrastructure for 1,000s of hectares requires a substantial commitment in time, money and effort. With multiple redundant sources of water including deep wells to use in case of an emergency, retention ponds to catch the excess rain and water pumped from local rivers, we still needed a highly reliable means of getting that water from Point A to Point B on our Los Olivos plantation, especially with the massive expansion of the greenhouse complex.
At a cost of over $1 million, SupPlant and AgVisors worked tirelessly over the last 12 months to install a new state-of-the-art pumping system that can easily supply enough water for 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres). Drawing water from the mouth of the Rio Valley, a tributary of the Rio Grande, the new system can pump at sufficient pressure to supply the entire plantation with clean, filtered water.
The system is comprised of 3 vertical turbine pumps that draw 300 cubic meters of water per hour (that’s over 79,000 gallons per hour, folks) and 4 in-line auto-cleaning filters that can process up to 1,760 gallons per minute. A separate, smaller filtration system has been installed for the nursery/greenhouse operations. Each pump is driven by a 200-horsepower high efficiency motor.
The filtration system was specially designed and made in Israel to work with the SupPlant system and filters out particles as small as 130 microns. It includes an “auto-wash” system that self-cleans the system using hydraulic pressure. The filtration process is monitored by a computer capable of detecting the pressure difference between the inlet of untreated water to the filter and the clean water outlet of the filter; when the difference becomes sufficient (indicating a dirty filter) the filter cleans itself. If you’re a tech geek, you can see a demo HERE en Español and HERE in English. The system can also be programmed to automatically go through a filtration cycle on a regular schedule regardless of whether or not the filter is dirty. The filtered water is simply returned to the river.
This is a very efficient system since labor costs are reduced by nearly eliminating manual cleaning. Furthermore, the filter cleaning process works at the same time that the irrigation is running; there is no down time for maintenance.
So how big is this system? Well, you can see the physical size of the pumps and filters but you can make a comparison with a residential water main. The primary pipeline, made from PVC, can take a pressure of up to 180 PSI and is 20” in diameter! As the water line branches out to the fields, the pipe slowly gets reduced down to 2” before being fed into the drip irrigation lines.
So, now that the first project is completed, SupPlant and AgVisors have begun work on a similar installation for the Toza plantation and the San Francisco plantation is scheduled for 2021.