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Ollas and salinity

 
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I was recently in a debate about ollas versus drip irrigation and the other side took the position that with higher salinity water drip irrigation works better as it flushes the salts. They said that ollas would distribute the water in all directions instead of just down and thus only add to the salinity of the soil.

I'm not sure about the flow rate of the system we were debating, but they only have their drip lines on for about 10 minutes at a time every other day for about a dozen small raised beds with soil made mostly from humanure, sand and silty clay. This sounds to me like it wouldn't be enough flow to actually flush salts and part of the salt problem could be from the humanure.

My stance is that ollas, being more efficient, would better aid fungi and other soil builders lock up the salts. I also suppose that there are a lot of variables like plant type, soil type, olla size, depth, fill level, ect.

Thoughts?
 
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Location: Boulder, CO
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Hey Joe,

I live on the western slope of Colorado near Rifle. 74 acres with about 12 in. precipitation a year at 5500 ft elevation Zone 6a.

I'm finishing university and then getting ready to move onto the property where my father's native plant nursery business wasWe've had some salts come up. Geologically it's a salt flat with very silty clay loam so I haven't yet determined whether the salt is from subsoil only, past fertilizer use, irrigation water or a combination.

My initial sense is that if the salt is already dissolved in the water it might not matter unless the clay pot interacts with the salt in some way (actually experimenting with some special type of clay that takes the salt out or renders it inert might be worth looking into!)

If the salt is mainly in the soil then maybe drip irrigation right at the root zone allows it to be taken up sooner.

Maybe thirstier plants would do better with the drip but the ollas conserve water more....depending on how much evaporation takes place where the drip irrigation water is stored.

Unfortunately I don't have a definitive position but will be keeping an eye on this thread and doing some trials myself this summer....Best of luck!

Chris
 
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