I guess this will be my thread for my Desert Tree project.....
Site#1 - Sonoran Desert, USA.
- is around 33N latitude.
- about 1100' above sea level.
- around 9" of rain per year, most of which hits in the late summer.
- hot, highs are 105-115 F + in the summer.
- lows in winter are 30 to 50 degrees. Freezing is very rare.
- property is almost perfectly flat, there is slope, but almost imperceptible.
- water table used to shallower in the 1950's, maybe 70-120' (lolz at "shallow"). Now its 500-600'+ due to over pumping.
- the property is in a small flood plane or sorts, but it takes LARGE storm events to flood (a few inches).
- soil is primarily a silty clay. The top 3" stays soft, below that, its dry and hard.
- little vegetation, there a few scattered mesquites, some kind of small sage bushes/salt brush things.
- (actually, they are complete dried out "sticks" now, but I believe there are Wolfberry plants here. Some are still alive)
Its some piss-poor property a got duped into buying when we were having a real estate boom pre-2008-ecomonic-distaster.
I'm going to use a type circular depression to for a rain catchment to establish some trees.
I have access to some drilling equipment I modified....
....I actually came up with this idea decades ago, but never got around to implementing it.
Our equipment makes different type of circular dirt mounds, or volcano shaped piles, depending on what we are doing.
Here was the 1st experiment in our equipment yard.
After we shaped the ground, we set up a simple yard sprinkler.
The conical shape of the ground initiates sheet flow toward the center of course....it doesn't take much water sprinkling down to get things moving.
The other 'idea' is the reamer arm leave a small berm around the edge of the depression.
In the case of a MAJOR storm event, I don't want the entire sheetflow for several of the surrounding acres to wash out the system.
I think there would be too much erosion and silt deposition rendering it in effective....also worried all waterlogging the plantings for several days.
So we dug in (10) of the Water-Lenz®© and we tried to plant in some Moringa Trees using the Groasis Waterboxx to nurse the saplings.
The thinking was there they are super fast growers, and drought tolerant.
Problem was gophers ate them. Twice!
We evolved 3 generations of protective wire baskets and covers to keep them away...
They actually started off quite well and grew quite a bit. Its a shame because one of the same set of saplings I planted my backyard grew to 9' tall with almost no water.
(had to top it already).
So after designing up a subterranean basket system, with a wire protective (above surface) cover, I decided to just try native mesquites.
They have been in for 2-3 weeks and appear to have not-died.
I may try the Moringas again. As I think the current wire basket design is working.
Not only do the gophers want to eat the plantings, the earth around the Waterboxx is cool and moist !
They want to move in !
The moringa was long since gone, but the gopher was really enjoying its new micro-climate here:
They also chew down the wick on the Waterboxx ....sucking the water out!
Actually, if I can keep the gophers outside of the (new) basket system,
their holes and burrows will be an advantage once it rains and ponds.
Rainwater will obviously flood the burrows and will be "planted" down deep in the subsurface.
The burrows probably have feces, organic debris, etc in them.
(I'd rather not kill off the gophers, with traps)
I only planted 5 locations to start.
I'm glad i did NOT 40-50 ..... I would have had a massacre.
The slow proto-typing is working out in the end.
I think I will also try M
erde (parkinsonia aculeata)....just from a biomass accumulator standpoint.
Out of all the native/quasi-native palo verdes here, the M.P.V. is the one the drops its pine-needle-like stems.
The other just shed the small leaf-lets. The stems tend to accumulate around the base providing a "mulch" and biomass.....they don't blow away so easliy.
The other aspect of the WaterLenz®©TM
.... is it should just start collecting and trap any plant-debris blowing around.
I may try to plant the M.P.V. along with a Wolfberry as a symbiotic partner plant .... someone or something could eat the berries obvs.
MPV would be the legume, the Wolfberry the 'crop'. Also, I think the Wolfberry would trap a lot of the MPV's leaf litter as well.
The bad thing about this whole deal....is since breaking ground with the rain catchments, I've cursed myself and there has been no rain.
Sure using the Waterboxxes just to establish things, but I'd like to see the Lenzs fill up at least once!
Its like the reverse-effect of washing your car and having it rain the next day.
To be honest, I have no idea.
I just know it will work....but to what degree?
I think I could make a hand version, that could be assembled in the field, and either turned by hand, or pulled around a pivot-center (with a bearing) by a mule or something.
You'd pound a huge center stake and turn a cutting arm around the pivot.
That machine you see is hardly using much power to do it.
Maybe for 3rd world countries or something.....the establish trees or orchards in drylands.
Sure, people could do it with shovels, pick ax, rake, etc ....but the more perfect that cone shape is, the less rain it takes to make it sheet flow.
....eyeballing it you are going to get irregularities.
It's really only beneficial in 'dig-able' clay soils that are flat .... but I see a lot of those where I'm at.
Any kind of slope, either swales or boomerangs or Zia-type pits are best .... sure I get that.
Maybe habit restoration? (wildlife, other)
Or obvs desert afforestation.
With a machine, I could put a crap ton of these in very quickly.
With very hardy desert trees, I don't know if we would even need the Waterboxx device.
In clay soils I do not believe the ground would erode too quickly to alter the rain-catchment features.
Maybe in area with livestock they'd get trampled out to a degree. IDK.
After many decades sure. But by then the landscape and topsoil would have significant organic matter added to it .... aiding water infiltration.