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Published: May 15, 2012 2:00:00 PM
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Seniors in Auburn University's Department of Biosystems Engineering are collaborating with the Auburn chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) to design a gravity-fed irrigation system in Quesimpuco, Bolivia. The semester-long senior design project will improve conditions for local farmers who struggle to meet their crops water needs because of high elevation, rough terrain and poor access to a steady water supply. The team includes Jessica Machata, Drew Sloan and Nathan Warner and is advised by Mark Dougherty, faculty member in biosystems engineering.
Machata, Sloan and Warner were asked to design an irrigation system for a variety of crops. Their design includes a trench weir diversion at a local stream that directs water through a system of polyethylene piping to a 12,000 gallon storage tank. The system feeds water to three lower fields. The diversion functions as a stop gate, an overfloew weir and a sedimentation basin which reduces the potential for sediment to clog the piping system.
"If the locals have better control and access to their water source they can increase their crop output and feed Quesimpuco's growing population," says Machata. "This was a challenging project due to the site location, but it is rewarding because our irrigation design is helping provide a solution in Bolivia."
An Auburn EWB travel team will be collecting measurements and data this summer for future irrigation plans. The student's design will also be replicated into a small-scale drip irrigation system for a local school's garden.