Treadle Pump

Treadle Pump Final
Michigan BLUELab Students Treadle Pump


Rural farmers in many parts of the world have two seasons – one growing season and one dry season.  During dry season which can be more than half the year, they can’t grow crops.  Moreover during the growing season they are at the mercy of the weather.  A drought of a few weeks can ruin crops and wipe out family finances.  If rural farmers could have greater control over the amount of water that reaches their crops they could triple their income and afford to send their children to school.


To design an easy to build and maintain human powered pump, such as a treadle pump.

The treadle pump is a human-powered irrigation device that pumps water up from a well. The pumping action comes from stepping up and down on treadles which drive pistons.  Treadle pumps look a lot like a stair-step machine you might see at the gym.  They pump groundwater to the surface powered by the large muscles in your legs. Treadle pumps allow farmers to supplement rain-fed irrigation.  Farmers can raise crops in two growing seasons per year, and they can grow higher value crops on their small plots of land.

In 2013 ATC worked with Michigan State University to update the treadle pump drawings and re-design several components.

MSU Treadle Pump
MSU Treadle Pump


More Information:  Link to ATC, BLUELab and Michigan State University Drawings