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Cost-effective temporary microirrigation system for grass establishment on environmentally sensitive steep slopes
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Yeboah Gyasi-Agyei
An advanced technology cost-effective drip irrigation system design and setup on environmentally sensitive elevated steep slopes (batters) of a coal train derailment site in Central Queensland, Australia, are presented. The final profile of the coal burial site consists of six batters and associated berms with a drop in elevation of about 35 m. A small dam constructed downstream of the confluence of the two main drainage channels at the site supplied water for irrigation of the batters to aid the establishment of grass to control erosion. Water was periodically pumped from the small dam to three storage tanks using a petrol (gas) pump. Three solar pumps drew water from the storage tanks and dam to irrigate the top four batters. Contractors, pressure switches and irrigation control valves in turn shared a single solar power source between the solar pumps. Level balls (floating switches) placed in the storage tanks cut the solar power supply to the pumps when the storage tanks were nearly empty. On the whole, the irrigation system worked very well and excellent grass cover was established within 12 weeks. Given the environmental risks associated with the on-site burying of coal, and the estimated cost of about AU$11.73/m2 (every 10 years) in maintenance if the railway batters are not treated, the estimated total cost of AU$4.61/m2 of batter area treated with irrigation, including AU$3.08/m2 in irrigation cost, is justified.