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Stock Waterer Heated By "Earth Power"
We've seen a lot of ways to heat stock tanks over the years but an idea that recently came to our attention in Colorado might be the most cost- effective yet.
  Tom Kilduff of the Natural Resources Conservation Services, Meeker, Colo., called to tell us about the giant, indestructible stock tanks the agency sells at cost to farmers. They're made out of 12 to 13-ft. dia. earth mover tires with the top bead cut off. The tires, which weigh as much as 22,000 lbs., are laid flat on the ground with the bottom sealed with concrete.
  The beads are cut out of the giant tires by a Wyoming man who has invented a heavy-duty tire cutter (Contact: Richard Waldock at 307-334-3103). Kilduff's agency sells the water tanks to farmers in the area at cost - about $300.
  In the course of telling us about the tanks, Kilduff mentioned that he has been working on a new way to "heat" the big tanks in winter to keep them from freezing up. The problem is that many tanks are placed in remote areas without any way to keep them from freezing in winter.
  A couple years ago Kilduff heard about an older farmer who had come up with a "no power" way to heat a stock tank using heat from the earth. What he did was to sink a large diameter pipe vertically into the ground under the tank. Cold water drops down into the pipe where it's heated by the warmth underground. As the water warms, it rises back up into the tank. The circulating water keeps the tank from freezing up.
  Kilduff has been experimenting with the idea. So far here's what he's tried.
  On a 13-ft. dia. stock tank, he sinks a 24-in. dia. black plastic PVC corrugated pipe in the ground. He first puts a plastic cap over the bottom end. It's best to sink the pipe 15 to 20 ft. deep. The deeper the better since the ground gets warmer the deeper you go.
  The biggest challenge with setting up the earth-heated tank is digging the 2-ft. dia., 20-ft. deep hole for the pipe. There's no posthole digger that will dig a hole that deep. If you do it with a backhoe, you must be certain to adequately repack the soil around the pipe. "You have to pack the soil tightly around the pipe so ground heat is transferred efficiently to the water. If there are air pockets around the pipe, the system will not work as efficiently," notes Kilduff.
  The idea has worked great in tests. Now Kilduff is trying to determine exactly what size pipe is needed in relation to the size of the stock tank.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Tom Kilduff, NRCS, P.O. Box 837, Meeker, Colo. 81641.

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1999 - Volume #23, Issue #2