I am interested in using wind to pump water for irrigation. I hear that it can be done. Can you refer me to some information on wind pumps?

John Sweaney


Harnessing the wind to move water for irrigation dates back a millennium. Utilizing windmills to pump, store and disperse ground and surface water remains a popular windmill application today.

The USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is currently researching farm-scale wind power for pumping water. The Small Wind Systems for Water Pumping and Electric Generation project began in 1999 and concludes September 30 of this year. It includes evaluating and comparing older and more modern wind systems as well as hybrid ones that incorporate wind power, photovoltaics, and diesel engines.

The USDA is also soliciting grant applications for on-farm wind power projects. As part of $115 million in the 2002 Farm Bill allocated to rural renewable energy projects, the feds have released $22.8 for the 2004 funding cycle. The deadline for these competitive grants, which are limited to 24 percent of a project’s total cost, is July 19.

Some systems use wind power to generate electricity to run conventional electric submersible water pumps. According to BergeyWindpower (www.bergey.com), which pioneered these systems in the 1980s in partnership with the USDA, these systems have the advantage over wind-power only pumpers in that they are more efficient over a wider range of wind speeds, can pump higher volumes of water, can be placed far from the well, and are more maintenance free. Bergey also claims that these systems are more suitable than mechanical windmills for small-plot irrigation.

Click here for a list of water pumping windmill manufacturers in the United States.



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