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Wicking Irrigation for Tree Establishment  RSS feed

 
Abe Connally
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Location: Chihuahua Desert
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I've always like the Waterboxx concept, but the cost is prohibitive for a lot of people. I use wicking beds in the dry season, and I know how well they work.

This article has some good info for building a type of open-source Waterboxx: http://agroforestry.net/overstory/overstory249.html

Using Nylon rope and some plastic (or clay) jugs, you can achieve very high survival rates for seedlings in drought prone areas.

The first step is to select appropriate species. Then, get small seedlings established in a nursery and transplant them to the site with the watering system. In this example, they were able to establish mesquite seedlings with 8 l (2 gal) of water a month.

I typically use drip irrigation with trees, and my survival rates are not impressive at all. Typically, I give each seedling about 150-200 gallons a year to get them established. With this wicking system, I could reduce that amount considerably, which means more trees for the same water.
 
Abe Connally
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Location: Chihuahua Desert
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I also think deep pipe irrigation is very efficient, too. I guess if you are planting your trees in an area where you could install lines to each one, deep pipe would be good:
 
Abe Connally
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Location: Chihuahua Desert
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I've installed some deep pipe for some of the trees I have (apricot, plum, cherry, peach, grape) just to see how it works. I have high hopes, and the drip irrigation just wasn't performing well.
 
Ichabod Shorthouse
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With the rocky soil on my lot up on Gate 2 in Terlingua I don't think this would work but I wish it would. I was thinking of daming up the upper part of a shallow wash filling it with dirt and trying this..
 
Abe Connally
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Location: Chihuahua Desert
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O O wrote:With the rocky soil on my lot up on Gate 2 in Terlingua I don't think this would work but I wish it would. I was thinking of daming up the upper part of a shallow wash filling it with dirt and trying this..

I used to live on the Ranch, mile marker 6 on the main Ranch road.

Yeah, rocky soils are a pain, but where you do have soil, you should try it.
 
John Polk
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I like that deep pipe system also.

I get rather irked when I see people using a drip hose to water trees. A deep watering (especially when establishing trees) trains the roots to search deep for water, thus enhancing its drought tolerance. Frequent, shallow watering makes the tree dependent on surface water.

 
Abe Connally
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Location: Chihuahua Desert
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John Polk wrote:I like that deep pipe system also.

I get rather irked when I see people using a drip hose to water trees. A deep watering (especially when establishing trees) trains the roots to search deep for water, thus enhancing its drought tolerance. Frequent, shallow watering makes the tree dependent on surface water.


yeah, but just about all the literature and information recommends drip systems for trees. That's why they are used so much.

I think they can work, but in my climate, they don't do well. We took the strategy of weekly waterings, they were effectively deep waterings, but in our clay, that meant a lot of water per tree to penetrate deep down.

I'm hoping these pipes will do better, and it should be easy enough to convert our system to use them.

For trees that are further out of reach of a drip line, I will be testing out the wicking system.
 
Morgan Morrigan
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Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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gotta bury the drip line at least a foot down.

That way you aren't watering weeds either.
Don't bother with emitters, just drill tiny holes in the pipe.
Run some vinegar thru once a winter to dissolve deposits.

If you do a vertical pipe, put a cap on it.

If you could fill it with biochar, would be even better...

I have been burying in rock cisterns, and they let too much water evaporate, had to cover the rock with dirt.
 
Abe Connally
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Location: Chihuahua Desert
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Morgan Morrigan wrote:If you do a vertical pipe, put a cap on it.

Why? Don't we want the water going into the soil below the tree?

Morgan Morrigan wrote:If you could fill it with biochar, would be even better...

I have been burying in rock cisterns, and they let too much water evaporate, had to cover the rock with dirt.

I back fill with biochar and compost, but I wouldn't waste space in the pipe for that. You want as much space for water as possible.
 
Jen Shrock
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Location: NW Pennsylvania Zone 5B bordering on Zone 6
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Strange thought...if you used a larger style of rope and do a wicking system with a 1 1/2 to 2 inch rope that will degrade over time (like the ropes that people use in nautical landscaping), couldn't you gain the benefit of wicking while the trees get established and then, over time the ropes would biodegrade and add to the soil structure?
 
Andrew Schreiber
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the article about wicking irrigation mentioned in the first post: it seems like their conclusion :

The 11 mm (7/16”) detergent washed solid braid nylon exhibited the best capillary rise, reaching 25 cm in 100 minutes and 55 cm in 20 hours.


wondering if anyone has tried this and how they figured out how to attacht he wick to the container. Looking for a simple way to do this.
 
Steve Farmer
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Location: South Tenerife, Canary Islands (Spain)
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John Polk wrote:Frequent, shallow watering makes the tree dependent on surface water.



Yes but only if the tree is being given more than enough water.
If you surface water the shallow roots, enough to keep the tree healthy, but not at the rate to support the tree's maximum growth then the tree will send down deeper roots to search for more water
 
Devon Olsen
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Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
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If I'm understanding this right the recommendation of this thread is to plant the trees first in a wicking bed then to ranspla the trees after they've developed roots for searching deep correct?
I too love the groasis waterboxx concept but it is coat prohibitive for me so my solution is to save my large amount of milk cartons I drink through, which are a half gallon a piece and in the spring I will attach a wick through the lid fill them with fresh water and place them upside down next to my veggies to hopefully copy the groasis on a smaller scale, if it works well with veggies then I will begin using them for trees as well though I had planned to use 8 for a tree rather than one to match the 4 gallon supply of the groasis, if it works as I hope I'll be sure to share
 
Andrew Parker
pollinator
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Location: Salt Lake Valley, Utah, hardiness zone 6b/7a
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Devon, I think you misread it. I believe the wicking bed was only mentioned to highlight the superior efficiency of a wick system for watering. Using a wick for watering helps the tree to establish a deep tap root which helps with drought resistance as well as structural stability. Digging the tree up after it has established a deep root system would be counterproductive.

Using a non-biodegradable wick allows the wick to be used for efficient supplemental watering, when needed.

Modifying the area around the tree into a microcatchment that guides surface water to deep pipes and/or a reservoir that supplies a wick or wicks, can maximize annual precipitation.
 
Devon Olsen
Posts: 1066
Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
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I was worried that i had andrew, i didnt think that the recommendation would be to transplant the tree as i understood that top be counterproductive to taproot formation

now, i am confused as to the benefit of the non-biodegradable wick other than it would likely maintian close to the same flow rate for months on end whereas i imagine a biodegradable wick would quicken the infiltration rate over time

the question is, at what point is the difference substantial enough to ju stify using non biodegradable material if one is trying to steer clear of that?
immediately?
one month in?
three months in?
six?
would a bidodegradable wick last a full season?

perhaps these are answers i will have to wiat to answer myself...
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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Location: Officially Zone 7a, nearer 6b, SW Tennessee
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Abe Connally wrote:
Morgan Morrigan wrote:If you do a vertical pipe, put a cap on it.

Why? Don't we want the water going into the soil below the tree?


Wasn't that a cap on the top of the pipe/ bottle? Perhaps to avoid drying out of the soil at the bottom?
 
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