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Desert Irrigation Vs Waterbox  RSS feed

 
Andrew Michaels
Posts: 75
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Hi Geoff.

I know you used drip irrigation to help establish the greening the desert site, which I believe you were pumping from the ground.

In the US, it's getting harder and harder to get permission to pump water from the ground in aird areas, and there is often significant expenses inherent in doing so, both in terms of deeper and deeper wells needing to be dug due to dropping water tables and the cost of getting the right to pump the water.

I'm wondering if, in situations where pumping water is prohibitive, if something like the "waterbox" http://www.groasis.com/page/uk/index.php would be a good idea (in conjunction with water harvesting earth works, etc), or if it would be a better idea to truck water on site, put it in a tank, and distributive it via drip irrigation.

Finally, in situations where you're getting less than three inches a year, can you expect to eventually take systems off drip irrigation and rely on rain alone, or should it be assumed that you will always be drawing water from the ground (or otherwise importing). Will unirrigated systems still be productive and producing fruit, etc.

Thank you.

-Andrew



 
Marcella Rose
Posts: 95
Location: Central Texas, it is dry here.
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I know I am not Geoff...but the Groasis is brilliant (I had to comment)! The self watering container is the closest thing I have seen to the Groasis around here. It is the perfect solution for renters/non-land owners that cannot install an irrigation system! Thank you SO much for sharing!
 
Tim Southwell
Posts: 117
Location: Hamilton, MT
4
bee chicken forest garden
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Rustic,

I am pursuing the same in a arid climate location, though I do receive 14" of precip annually. The soil is granular and well drained, so holding water when it falls is difficult. I plan the use of swales on contour to capture all rainfall. In conjunction with this, I will place the excavated dirt from the swales on some strategically placed organic matter to immediately offer soil amendment. From there I will plant drought tolerant mulch accumulating ground-covers, for the first season to amend the soils further to build water retention. Next I will plant nitrogen fixers and accumulators in the forms of shrubs and trees to further amend the soil while paying attention to climate demands (hot and dry). Next will come the fruit forest elements to work in line with the amended soil and various plantings. The mix of ground covers, shrubs and trees will create their own evaporation / transpiration, thereby allowing them to fend for themselves. I don't plan a water on-demand element, though I could place a water tank with solar pump to a soaker hose along the swale. This is about a 18-24 month installation process, after which is will be minimum maintenance and enjoy.

I have a brother in Bangkok... ever get out there?

Tim
 
Geoff Lawton
permaculture expert
Posts: 48
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Hi There
yes the water box system is a condensation device that works well and there have been cultures in the past that have survived completely by traditional systems of harvesting condensation drip where there is no real rain to speak, one one classics are the traditional people of the Canary Islands honored by Bill Mollison in "The Permaculture Designers Manual".

The ideal situation is to choose the appropriate landscapes in arid lands where you can implement the 3 main features of dry land water harvesting swales, gabions and limonia in compliment to each other and then you can work towards switching off all pumped or imported water.
 
Andrew Michaels
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Hi Tim.

Interesting plan. Thanks for sharing. It certainly does seem like a long process, but I'm sure the payoff will be worthwhile.

I'm wondering if leaving the groundcover without planting the shrubs/fruit trees at the same time is a good idea. I don't have a specific reason to offer other than the fact that my PDC teacher said you have to be ready to plant the entire section from the get go or it can get out of control (tropical setting...might be different in the desert). I believe Lawton did it this way in one of his DVDs as well. My teacher stressed that you should do up one piece of earthwork, like the swale, and then have all elements for that swale ready to go. But you just do one swale at a time, or as many as you can handle, to prevent overwhelm.

Of course, if you do it that way it rules out bringing in a bulldozer and doing it all at once. And the worst case scenario would only be that the swale gets overgrown, right? Not that big of a deal.

Just some food for thought.

I have been to Bangkok, but find it too much of a megacity for my tastes. I like a bit less density and a closer proximity to nature/mountains, which is why I'm in Chiang Mai.




 
Tim Southwell
Posts: 117
Location: Hamilton, MT
4
bee chicken forest garden
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Rustic,

Good comments. I gave my PDC design overview this week, and the stage implementation into the swale was well received. This might just be because my soils have literally no worthy organic matter to allow for your typical swale install of plants to take root and thrive. The Lawton videos seem to be installed into good black soils, or like 'greening the desert' they were using drip irrigation out the gate. I will not be using an irrigation source, so I am dependent on seasonal water to develop plant life while selecting plants that will work to amend the soil over the various stages in anticipation of plugging in the complete swale make-up.

I think I am approaching this in the correct manner. As an alternative, I have thought of developing the swales and immediately installed a full native forest (pines mostly) with the necessary understory of N fixers / etc, then after establishment, coming back in 2 seasons and selectively removing some pines and plugging in food forest plantings. Perhaps this would be less work? I am not opposed to work, but food for thought.

Where is your PDC class? Mine is in Lawrence, KS (outside of Kansas City), with my property a 20 acre parcel in SW Montana.

Tim

 
Andrew Michaels
Posts: 75
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I took mine at Tacomepai farm outside Pai in northern Thailand.

Really interesting course. The farmer, Sandot, had a great story of how he brought his land back to life with trees and earthworks. I wrote about him and his farm here: http://permaculture.org.au/2011/08/11/sandot-sukkaews-tacomepai-farm-a-20-year-old-permaculture-project/




Tim Southwell wrote:Rustic,

Good comments. I gave my PDC design overview this week, and the stage implementation into the swale was well received. This might just be because my soils have literally no worthy organic matter to allow for your typical swale install of plants to take root and thrive. The Lawton videos seem to be installed into good black soils, or like 'greening the desert' they were using drip irrigation out the gate. I will not be using an irrigation source, so I am dependent on seasonal water to develop plant life while selecting plants that will work to amend the soil over the various stages in anticipation of plugging in the complete swale make-up.

I think I am approaching this in the correct manner. As an alternative, I have thought of developing the swales and immediately installed a full native forest (pines mostly) with the necessary understory of N fixers / etc, then after establishment, coming back in 2 seasons and selectively removing some pines and plugging in Food Forest plantings. Perhaps this would be less work? I am not opposed to work, but food for thought.

Where is your PDC class? Mine is in Lawrence, KS (outside of Kansas City), with my property a 20 acre parcel in SW Montana.

Tim

 
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