Ground zero: Duct tape is your friend. Buy a holster.
1. Basically, no matter what contingency you plan for, something else will go wrong.
If you string your irrigation lines thirty feet above a wash so that the summer monsoons won't destroy them, coyotes will chew on them.
2. No matter what contingency you plan for, it will go wrong anyway.
Even if you string your irrigation lines thirty feet above a wash so that the summer monsoons won't destroy them, you will still find them a hundred yards down river entangled in an uprooted tree the day after the first monsoon.
3. You will never have enough money to do what you actually need to do.
Five full-time undergrads and three brand new computers to record your data and run statistical analyses? Hahahahahaha, you're cute. Come back when you've been published in Science.
4. You won't need at least half of what you buy in advance.
$2700 worth of soil monitoring equipment? Useless, unless you have five full-time undergrads to refill the ionized solution at sites sixty miles apart every single day (see rule #3).
5. You will need at least twice as much money for unplanned expenses as you think you do.
Your ecobus lands on chance. "Due to the ceaseless chewing on your irrigation lines by coyotes, you have to encase all of your lines in PVC pipes and pay some undergrads to bury them all below ground. In the desert. In the summer." F*$%. Maybe you can pay them in beer.
6. You will fall headfirst into a cholla at least once. If you don't, you are the one who has to do the data analysis.
Seriously, I still have the scars.
7. If there are any computers involved, they will crash at least once.
I think this one is self-explanatory.
8. When all of your results are in, and you've paid out of your own pocket to recover the data from your sad, sad wreck of a hard drive, your committee will be sure to ask you why you didn't control for the effect of the temperature change on the water caused when you buried your irrigation lines.