Greenhouses are built to protect plants from harsh climates and to provide warmth throughout the year. Additionally, they help to save water in water scarce regions.To get a sufficient yield of crops, the plants need a stable and a suitable climate. Generally, these conditions are not always given as most regions have to face weather extremes.
The following presentation will give you information on greenhouses in general, their pros and cons and successful examples of greenhouses in rural regions around the world.
Distributed, or decentralised energy systems can be build with Open Source Renewable Energy Hardware. Within the Hamburg Open Online University project Collective Open Source Hardware, short cos(h), step-by-step instructions were created to build your own open source solar system. The tutorial is based on Libre Solar components and offers a modular system that can be set up, depending on power and storage capacity requirements. Basic understanding of electrical engineering and programming is required for a successful construction.
Manufacturing of a Solar Charge Controller
A charge controller feeds electrical power from solar panels (or wind turbines or bicycle generators) in the battery storage system. If electricity should be stored in batteries, a charge controller is always required, as it prevents the battery from overloading or overcurrent. Cos(h) created a manual that shows how to manufacture a MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracker) charge controller. It is a PCB (printed circuit board) for running an electrical solar power system.
Click here to open the cos(h) tutorial and build your own MPPT.
Photos from the MPPT manufacturing:
Assembly of a Solarbox
This tutorial shows you how to connect the previous constructed charge controller with solar panels, batteries and loads directly. However, a solarbox can be created individually.
Another cos(h) tutorial shows how to assemble a solarbox, which is a small scale mobile energy system (consisting of batteries, electric components like a charge controller and connectors for connecting power generation units like solarpanels)
Click here to open the cos(h) tutorial and assembly your own small scale solar system.
Other Open Source Hardware:
DIY Open Source LED from a Beverage Can: Blog Opensource-Solar
Global Village Construction Set: 50 different industrial machines: Open Source Ecology
Video: What is Open Source Hardware?
cos(h) Git Lab
Libre Solar Website
Libre Solar Community Platform
Rural Energy Systems
If you want to design a managed aquifer recharge (MAR) system, an understanding of the geological background at your site is necessary.
Aquifers consist of different rock and sedimentary layers. The type and characteristics of these layers determine whether and how much water can infiltrate. A high porosity and permeability is helpful for aquifer recharge, but not all layers have the wanted properties. Moreover, the geological history varies from region to region, therefore it is helpful to include a local geologist into the planning process of a MAR.
The following slides provide you with a basic geological understanding on rock types and their important properties: porosity and permeability. A quiz is included to let you check on your gained knowledge.
This check dam design tool helps you to design a check dam. It shows an example of a longitudinal view of a check dam section in a catchment. Each check dam needs a design accordingly to its location. Therefore, after you decided on a perfect spot with suitable local building material, you need to calculate the specific dam measurements. Click the green plus-buttons and a manual will pop up. They specify the calculation of certain values such as the size (height, length, width) of a check dam or the space between each check dam.
Ever wondered how much rain is falling at your place? Then you should learn more about measuring rainfall to estimate your rainwater harvesting potential with this e-learning tool.
Methods for Rainwater Quantification
We will provide you with a rain gauge construction manual. This gives you the opportunity to measure your rainfall without using much equipment. Everybody can help to keep an eye on our planets water resources and you can start. Have a look by yourself and try out your first tests.
Rainwater is an important water resource by naturally irrigating plants and recharging water sheds. Rainfall is collected by rainwater harvesting (also see: traditional and land-based rainwater harvesting), stored and later used. Thus, knowledge on the speed of recharge is important in order to know how fast you can use your stored water resources. Additionally, rainfall is changing with the seasons in frequency and intensity. You can calculate with this Rainwater Collection Calculator based on your data the yearly collection potentials, which helps to plan your storage devices. As dryer a region is as more important it is to collect and store in these seldom peak times, which makes an exact planing even more important. Consequently, observing the rainfall is one of the first steps for sustainable usage practices.
World Water Resources
Ever wondered how the water quality of your water resource is? Then you should learn more about the condition of your water sources with this e-learning tool.
Methods for Water Quality Determination
We will provide you with some techniques, which do not need much equipment. This gives you already an idea on your water body’s condition. Everybody can help to keep an eye on our planets water resources. However, for more precise measurements we need more elaborate methods. Have a look by yourself and try out your first tests.
Water condition analysis is the first step to check on the quality of a water body. It describes the biological, chemical and physical state of water and tells you how healthy a water resource is. A good water quality and good water health is important for the ecosystem, thus checking on the water condition is an important step for sustainable water usage practices and once implemented to monitor these. However it is also very important for your personal health and well-being. It follows a simple logic: You can only stay healthy, if you use good quality water for drinking water supply and irrigation systems.
Agriculture and urbanisation draw heavy on the worlds water resources and unsustainable practices show more and more their signs. Already, several rivers and lakes are polluted and even groundwater resource are not protected from getting increasingly polluted any more. However, everybody is in the responsibility to avoid pollution and to treat your environment responsible. All water resources are part of the hydrosphere and thus connected with each other, which leads to an easy spread of pollution from one water resource to another. Due to this importance several methods for measuring water quality developed over time. For a precise determination of water quality, a complex set of measurements are needed like Measuring Groundwater Quantities, Measuring Surface Water Quantities and Measuring Rainfall Frequency and Intensity, but for a first idea only few parameters are sufficient.
World Water Resources
Ever wondered how much surface water is in rivers, lakes, channels and reservoirs around you? Then you should learn more about measuring surface water with this e-learning tool.
Methods for Surface Water Quantification
We will provide you with some measuring techniques, which do not need much equipment. This gives you already a good idea on your surrounding surface water status. Everybody can help to keep an eye on our planets water resources. However, for more precise measurements you will need more elaborate methods. Have a look by yourself and try out your first tests.
Surface water is an important water source not only for recreational purposes. Rivers, Lakes and channels are the most easily accessible water sources, which are naturally widely spread over the planet. Surface water is part of the hydrosphere and thus depends on recharge and discharge even without human beings starting to influence these processes. Thus, surface water quantification is the first step for developing sustainable water usage practices and once implemented to monitor these.
Firstly, if you know the recharge speed of your system, you can set discharge limits. Secondly, surface water bodies should never dry out under a limit, which makes it very important to never use too much. A functioning aquatic ecosystems needs a minimum flow level to survive. However, surface water is more exposed as underground water and, therefore, more vulnerable to climatic conditions like high evaporation rates in times of drought. Additionally, this water source is also most affected by pollution as it is easy accessible and exposed. The agricultural revolution, industrialisation and urbanisation draw heavy on surface water resources, especially in regions without an implemented waste water treatment infrastructure. As dryer the region is as more vulnerable is your system and more important it is to know your surface water bodies exactly.
Therefore, measuring and mapping your water quantities gives you important directions for sustainable usage practices.
World Water Resources
Ever wondered how much groundwater is under your feet? Then you should learn more about measuring groundwater with this e-learning tool.
Methods of Groundwater Quantification
We will provide you with some techniques, which do not need much equipment to give you already an idea on your groundwater. Everybody can help to keep an eye on our planets water resources. However, for more precise measurements more elaborate methods are needed. Have a look by yourself and try out your first tests.
Groundwater quantification is also the first step for developing sustainable water usage practices and once implemented to monitor these. It follows a simple logic: You need to know how much water is there, before you know how much can be used. You need to know how fast your system gets recharged to know how fast you can use your water reservoirs without harming your storage system. Storage systems should never dry out completely, which makes it very important to never pump your groundwater too fast to the surface and use too much. Measuring and mapping your water gives you therefore important directions. As dryer the region is as more vulnerable is your system and more important it is to know your groundwater exactly. Due to this importance several methods for measuring groundwater developed over time. However, quantification of groundwater is difficult due to many hydrological and environmental aspects that must be considered. Groundwater resources are part of the hydrosphere and thus depend on groundwater recharge and discharge even without human beings starting to influence this processes. However, agriculture and urbanisation draw heavy on groundwater resources and unsustainable practices show more and more their signs and some underground storage systems starting to dry out.
World Water Resources
Harvesting rainwater is one of the most self-sufficient and environment friendly methods of using water. As much as 80 % of rainwater that falls onto your catchment area can be collected by applying simple methods. This DIY Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting handbook walks you through an easy process of building a small rain barrel system. If you want to start small and inexpensive, this might be a good option for you.
To get a better estimate of how much water can be collected from a rooftop, please have a look at our second Rainwater Collection Calculator (Rainwater Collection from Rooftops).
Some additional tips about at home rainwater harvesting to remember:
- Never drink untested and unfiltered water. The rainwater collected using this method can be used for purposes such as watering your garden.
- Never place your barrel close to utility services or septic tanks.
- Drain your barrel once in a while.
- You can place some pea gravel around your barrel. This will be helpful in case of overflow.
- Consider installing a gutter debris filter.
- Clean the gutters thoroughly before installing the rainwater barrel.
- Consider installing a first flush diverter to reduce contaminants.
- You can expand your raiwater collecting capacity by connecting an additional barrel.
- Set up a seasonal maintenance schedule.
We hope you find this handbook useful and hope to hear from you in case you try out this solution. Find the latest discussion about this topic in our forum.
Each soil particle is unique – just like a snowflake. Soil condition directly determines how the soil behaves – how well it can contain water, how prone it is to erosion, how nutritious it is. Have a look at the handbook below to learn how to perform a basic soil condition analysis.
World Soil Resources
As much as 97 % of the world’s water is saltwater, which at a first glance could seem like an unlimited drinking water source tapped through desalination plants. However, seawater desalination has also its downsides as it is energy intensive and ample environmental challenges need to be faced. One of biggest environmental impacts caused by desalination plants is the highly saline brine emitted into the sea. This effluent may have a higher temperature than the receiving water body, contains residual chemicals from the pre-treatment process, heavy metals due to corrosion, or intermittently used cleaning agents. Therefore, the effluents of the process in fact highly affect the very resources they depend on. To learn more about the challenges of seawater desalination, have a look at the presentation below!
World Water Resources
The benefits of drip and surface irrigation systems can be exploited also in domestic conditions through a homemade irrigation system. These systems are simple and inexpensive to install and also a great way to recycle items that may otherwise go to waste, such as plastic bottles. They are suitable for gardens, as well as potted plants. To learn how to make your own homemade irrigation system, have a look at this tutorial!
This handbook will introduce you in more detail to the specific processes that entail the Terra Preta Sanitation System.
For further information on this topic, please refer to the other interactive elements.
Terra Preta Sanitation
Check dams are an effective and inexpensive way to improve watershed conditions. They serve to reduce erosion, slow down water flow in gullies and re-establlish vegetation for grazing and can be constructed from locally available materials. Building check dams may be of interest for local farmers, herders, area authorities and people with property rights to the affected hillside and downstream areas. It is important to note that check dams are to be built in groups and are most effective when combined with other watershed management measures.
How to Build Check Dams
If you are interested in learning how to build check dams, take a look at the check dams handbook below! It will provide you with step-by-step building instructions, as well as the needed materials and equipment.
Pictures taken during a research stay at the Slope Farming Project in Arba Minch, Ethiopia.