Monthly Archives: February 2018

FECO Water Conservation Grant – Step Two – Treadle Pump

February 7, 2018

For three summers we have filled and lifted 5 gallon buckets to water the plants. That’s fine if you 180203-nancy-pumping-sm-wp_20180202_003have a strong back and a lot of time. Currently, we are working on a setup to move the water from the cisterns around the orchard using less effort and time.

Last week, Nancy pumped 350 gallons from the older cisterns to the new one. She treadled or, should I say, she stepped.

For months I have been looking for a treadle pump because it is the preferred method for many farmers all over Africa and Asia. I searched one lead then another but there was not a treadle pump to be bought in the U.S. One U.S non-profit treadle pump developer insisted that it was against their policy to sell in the U.S.

Unless I was willing to buy from IndiaMart, these pumps were just not available. We thought we were going to have one welded for us. Then one day I got an email from an engineer friend who knew I was looking. He wrote, “There’s one on Amazon.”

“Amazon!” What? Amazon? You have to be kidding.

I clicked the link and there it was. On sale for $129. Down from $340 and, free shipping. The thing weighs 50 pounds shipped! This could not be real. The manufacturer called it a stepping pump. Who would ever search for that phrase. No one calls it a stepping pump. There are so many citations of their value and how they work and, in every instance, they are known as treadle pumps (

Mike’s response, “This is the seduction of Amazon.”

Sat, Feb 17, 1-3, Pruning Class
Sun, Feb 18, 2-4, Work Party
Sun, Mar 18, 2-4, Work Party
Sun, Apr 15, 2-4, Work Party

One click to purchase. We got the last one. The screen then came back up to report, “currently unavailable”.

We chewed our fingernails until the day it arrived. Nancy figured it was all some kind of scam … to good to be true.

But, we got the treadle pump … uh … er … I mean stepping pump. It works. It won awards and I can see why. Nancy pumped with little effort, all the while checking her email.

Sign up now to take a turn on the new pump! (wifi not included.)


P.S. R.A. Lambert and R.D. Faulkner did a research study on the efficient use of human energy for micro-scale irrigation. Their conclusion was that a sustainable hydraulic output (raising a given volume of water in a certain amount of time) of up to 50 Watts can be achieved with either with foot or hand operated pumps. However, for a given heart rate, foot operated pumps result in an increase in power output of 75-80%. (Journal of Agricultural Engineering Research, Volume 48, January–April 1991, Pages 171-183)