Blumat Tropf systems - advanced tutorial

Introduction

        Presentation of Blumat Tropf systems

Blumat Tropf systems are innovative solutions that transform the way we irrigate our plants. By providing precise control of soil moisture, these sensors revolutionize watering, ensuring your plants receive exactly the right amount of water they need, at the right time. In this advanced article, dive into the mechanics of Blumat sensors and explore their advanced applications. Learn how to fine-tune settings to meet the specific needs of your plants. Learn how to maximize the efficiency of your Blumat system and avoid common mistakes with our practical tips. Whether you're a novice or experienced gardener, this tutorial will help you master the art of precise irrigation and make your crops thrive like never before.

How Blumat sensors work

The operation of these sensors is surprisingly simple but effective and is explained in a single image here:

Blumat Tropf sensors work by using the natural ability of plants to absorb water through their roots. Each sensor consists of a porous clay tip that is inserted into the soil near the plant's roots. When the ground becomes dry, the clay tip absorbs water from the reservoir connected to the system. This absorption causes negative pressure inside the sensor, causing the sensor valve to open and allow irrigation water to flow into the soil. Once the soil returns to its optimal moisture, the clay tip stops absorbing water and the sensor's internal pressure returns to normal, closing the valve and stopping the flow of water. Thus, Blumat Tropf sensors automatically adjust watering according to the actual water needs of the plants, ensuring precise and efficient hydration.

Adjusting Blumat sensors

      Importance of fine tuning

Precise adjustment of Blumat Tropf sensors is essential to ensure that plants receive the right amount of water they need, neither too much nor too little. This prevents over or under irrigation, which can lead to problems such as root rot or plant wilting. By correctly adjusting Blumat sensors, you can maximize irrigation efficiency, distributing water where it is needed, which reduces waste and promotes efficient use of resources. Additionally, precise adjustment allows watering to be adapted to changing conditions, such as seasonal variations, fluctuating temperatures and exposure to sunlight. So, by finely adjusting Blumat sensors, you can provide optimal hydration to plants, promoting their health and growth while avoiding problems associated with inadequate irrigation.< /p>

      “Classic” gravity vs pressure adjustment method

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The "classic" adjustment method for Blumat Tropf sensors generally involves two approaches: the gravity method and the pressure method. Here is an explanation of each method:

            Gravity method:

  • In this method, the water source is placed at a higher height compared to the Blumat sensors.
  • Water flows naturally by gravity through the pipes connected to the sensors.
  • Adjusting the water flow can be done by adjusting the height of the water source. The higher the source, the greater the water pressure will be, and vice versa (1m difference in height corresponding to 0.1 Bar).
  • This method is simple and requires little additional equipment, butis it may be limited in terms of adjustment accuracy, as it mainly depends on the height of the water source.

            Pressure method:

  • With this method, a pump system is used to supply water to the Blumat sensors or the pressure reducer is connected to the distribution water
  • The presence of constant pressure in the pipes allows more precise control of the water flow.
  • Adjusting the water flow can be done by adjusting the pump pressure or by adjusting an adjustable pressure reducer
  • This method generally provides more precise adjustment and better irrigation uniformity, making it ideal for more complex installations or more specific irrigation needs.

            Interest in higher pressure

As you can understand, the pressure that reigns in the 8mm pipe has a direct impact on the adjustment of the sensors connected to it. As explained in the following image, the higher the pressure, the greater the margin for optimal adjustment.

The red line corresponds to the setting at which a drop remains suspended, the setting must be put in place when the jar is sufficiently humid, i.e. 30 min after watering. It is also possible to adjust with the sensor cap separated from the ceramic cone.

The valuesshown in color are the pressures in mBar that could be measured using the Blumat digital blood pressure monitor

0-50 WET is excessive soil moisture, prolonged period in these values will result in overwatering

25 - 75 VEG corresponds to ideal soil humidity for the vegetative phase

50 - 100 FLOWER corresponds to ideal soil humidity for the flowering phase

75 -125 Dry corresponds to slightly too low soil humidity, the plant seeks more water by creating a surplus of roots. (Beyond 300 it becomes very harmful)

Ultimately a precise adjustment consists of finding the point at which a drop remains suspended then tightening the adjustment by a certain number of notches (which will depend on several factors).

In summary, the gravity method is simple and economical, but it may lack precision in the adjustment of the water flow; however, the pressure and therefore the precision of the adjustment can be increased by raising the tank (1m difference in height). corresponding to 0.1 Bar). Methods with more pressure, on the other hand, offer more precise control of system sensitivity, making them more suitable for more specific irrigation needs. Choosing between the two will depend on the specific needs of your installation and your preferences for control and precision.

Using the diagram provided above you can find the number of notches to tighten depending on the pressure you have and the life stage of the plants.

Advanced use of Blumat systems

      Adaptation to different pot sizes (Maximum overload)


Due to its dimensions and physical properties, Blumat sensors are suitable for use in pots with a depth of max 30 cm. From a substrate depth of 25cm it is recommended to use the Tropf Maxi model which will allow deeper detection of the humidity level. Thus the root system will develop over the entire depth of the pot.

For large pots it is possible to move the dripping point of the sensor a few extra centimeters but it is preferable not to exceed 12cm distance. It is also possible to add a second sensor (a maxi and a normal is a good combination) to increase the surface covered. An additional dripper kit is also available, it allows you to extend the dripping points up to5 locations on the surface of the pot by being connected to a single sensor.

By positioning your sensors optimally you will ensure homogeneous distribution of humidity in the volume of the pot, which will give the best chance for root development and ensure a promising crop .

     

      Adaptation to different types of substrates

Different substrate means different culture. Indeed it is imperative to adapt your irrigation strategy to the substrate used, and if the Blumat system takes care of a large part of the work it is up to you to adapt your setting as best as possible. To do this, it may be recommended to use the Blumat digital blood pressure monitor. This will give you the opportunity to check the humidity level expressed in mBar at the heart of the rootball.

Depending on the nature of the substrate used, the following values represent an optimal one:

  • potting soil: 50-120
  • coconut: 80-110
  • clay balls: 40-70
  • open ground: 150-250

     

Adaptation to rooting rate and life stage

If the novice user may prefer manual watering at the start of the cycle, it is entirely possible to carry out all the steps using the Blumat system. To do this, you simply need to adapt your precise setting to the life stage of your crop. In fact, at each stage its optimal humidity level, and therefore at each stage its adjustment adaptation. The values given below are indicative for growing in potting soil and may differ depending on the case.

It will be noted in particular that for the rooting of young seedlings, seedlings, and cuttings, it is necessary to start with a very humid substrate first (this among other things to carry out the adjustment) which will be left to dry a little gradually by first aiming for a window of 50-100 then after a few days of 75-150. With such values the plant seeks water and produces more roots in order to find it, which accelerates rooting. For the system to oscillate correctly between the two optimal window values you may need to modify the distance between the dripping point and the sensor, which is why it may be useful to favor pots slightly larger than usual .
It is also possible with very small containers to place them on felt which will have a wicking effect and spread the humidity via the bottom of the pots. In this type of installation you need a pot in which there is no plant but just a sensor which will control the irrigation of an entire cultivation rack by dripping directly onto the felt. This type of technique is experimental and the target humidity values in pots with and without plants can diverge, which is why a new dedicated sensor has been developed, tell us in the comments if this product interests you!

As for plants in the vegetative phase that have just undergone repotting or root system pruning, the same strategy can be applied at the adjustment level. Namely a first strong manual humidification before proceeding with an adjustment from slightly too dry (50-100) to too dry (75-180) for a week (or two if the container is very bulky). Then we gradually return to an optimal setting for the vegetation (30-80).

Once the plants have flowered, we will adapt the setting to a slightly drier level (50-100)

For outdoor and persistent crops it is obviously necessary to adapt the setting according to the season. In summer and the production period we seek a "classic" ideal, while in winter and in the winter period, it will be preferable to tighten the adjustment screw until a more or less dry balance is obtained depending on the needs of culture.

Keep in mind that all of these values are only suggestions, so you will need to be carefultogether and adapt these tips to the needs of the plants specifically cultivated.

Practical tips and advice

      Line design

A well-designed line allows easy installation and maintenance and can limit the risk of malfunction. Here is an example of a simple but well thought out installation.

Note the presence of a valve at the end of the line which allows easy purging of the system, as well as the double connection to the tank which limits the risk of obstruction and allows the entire line to be filled from both sides. Also, to ensure consistent adjustment, it is recommended to install the tank at least 1m above the pots (the bottom of the tank must be 1m above the upper level of the pots)

       To be avoided

Two points should absolutely be avoided:

The most important thing is not to neglect tightening after finding the suspension point of the drop. If you leave the setting like this there is a significant risk that when the system opens it will no longer close... The tank (if there is one) will therefore empty little by little through the pots and flood the cultivation space: disaster!

Then when installing the sensors it is recommended to ensure that the ceramic cone will not come into contact with the bottom of the container, as this could interfere with the permeable properties of the ceramic and have an effect random on the behavior of the system.

source / credit: www.blumat.com; www.sustainablevillage.com

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