Use Bamboo To Move Water Pt.2

Water management


Today let us think once again about bamboo, and about more ways you can use it to help you get more work done with less effort. You already know how to preserve bamboo. You also know how to make and use bamboo water pipes and troughs and how they can be joined together to move water some distance.

A. Supports to hold bamboo troughs or pipes
While it is possible for water to flow in bamboo pipes and troughs that are resting on the ground, this is not the best arrangement for several reasons. It is important for the bamboo troughs to be set at just the right level or slant so that the water will flow in the direction you want it to flow. Often the ground is uneven. Also it is usually not easy to hold the trough or pipe in exactly the right position on the ground. However, this can be done by setting it above ground on a number of pairs of long sturdy stakes which hold the trough about a metre (3 feet) above the ground. They could be bamboo stakes or some other kind of wood. Push or hammer the stakes 6 or 8 centimetres (2 or 3 inches) into the ground fairly close to each other,

perhaps half a metre (1 1/2 feet) apart. Then, by grasping the top of each stake, the top ends can be pushed together and past each other to make a crotch in which the bamboo pipe or trough can be set. To adjust the level of the bamboo, spread the tops of the crossed stakes apart or pull them closer together. To be sure that water will flow in the right direction, it is best to pour some into the bamboo at the time that you are setting up the supports for your trough or pipe. When the bamboo is at the correct level, the stakes can be securely bound together where they cross with cord or wire. Also the bamboo can be securely bound into the crotch as well.

B. A bamboo drip irrigation trough
In Brazil people use a good sized bamboo trough for irrigating the vegetables they are growing in raised garden beds. You can set up a nearly level trough above or along the edge of the beds. Make very small holes all along the trough close to the bottom. Then pour water into the trough, and all of your garden beds will be watered at the same time by water dripping from the holes in the bamboo trough. In Brazil, the small holes, four finger widths apart, are actually burned into the trough using a homemade drill. A small red hot nail, held with a good pair of pliers, could be used just as well.

C. Subsurface drip irrigation using bamboo
Dr. David Kidd, a development worker in India reports that in Tamil Nadu, there is another effective but simple way of using bamboo for drip irrigation for young trees.

Take a large bamboo stem and cut it so that it forms a deep cup – open on top, with a node at the bottom to form the base of the cup. When making that cut below the node which forms the bottom of the cup, you should cut the bamboo on a slant. There is one more thing you must do to the cup. You must make a pin hole in the middle of the node that forms the bottom of the cup.

Your cup is now ready to stick down into the ground close to the roots of your tree. During dry weather, fill up the deep cup with water when necessary in order to provide water for the roots of your young tree. One thing you can be sure of with this method is that none of the water is wasted because it goes right into the soil around the plant roots where it is most useful.

D. A bamboo eavestrough
Have you ever thought of using a bamboo trough for catching the water that falls on your roof, and directing it into a container? This is easy to do. Use the largest size of bamboo pole you can find. Split it in half. When you remove the nodes in the trough be sure not to disturb the node closest to the small end of the bamboo. Then when you put up the trough under the eave of the roof of your house or other building, arrange it so the water flows downward toward the big end and place the rain barrel under it to catch the water. That makes a low cost way of collecting rainwater from your roof.

E. Using bamboo in a culvert
Finally, let us think, for a few moments, about a drainage ditch that crosses a path that you use. Perhaps the ditch is quite wide and not easy to jump over. Here is a method used by farmers in Japan to make the ditch easier to cross. They take 8 or 9 freshly cut medium sized bamboo stems and tie them together in a bundle with a rope. These are not bamboo pipes. They are just pieces of freshly cut bamboo. Any water in the ditch can pass through a bundle because of the shape of the individual bamboo pieces in it. When bundled together against each other there is lots of space between them so the water passes without any trouble.

One final point: it is possible that soil particles could wash down among the bamboos and clog up the waterway. The Japanese prevent this by covering the top and sides of the bundle with a layer of plastic or some other material before filling in the soil on top of the bundle.



1.David W. Kidd, Agricultural Engineering Consultant.

2.Graphics are reprinted or adapted from the following publications:

A.Cada cabeca e um mundo, No. 9, “Casa, Comida e agua fresca” (1980, 42 pages) and No. 15, “Os filhos de terra (1981, 42 pages) published (in Portuguese) by the Ministry of Education and Culture, MOBRAL (Brazilian Literacy Movement Foundation), SCRLN 704/5 – BL. H Ljs. 33/43, Brasilia – DF, Brazil.

B.Approvisionnement en eau transport de l’eau, canalisation en bambou, CDU 628.14 G.R.E.T., T.80, Groupe de Recherche et d’Echanges Technologiques, 34 Rue Dumont d’Urville, 75116, Paris, France.

C.Useful farming practices, Second edition, (145 pages, 1985), Association for International Co-operation of Agriculture and Forestry, Zenkoku Nogyo, Kyosai Kaikan, 19 Ichiboncho Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102, Japan.