Ancient Irrigation Technique Reborn: Clay Pot Irrigation


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Categories: Green

The buried clay pot or pitcher method is one of the most efficient traditional systems of irrigation known and is well suited for small farmers in many areas of the world. Buried clay pot irrigation uses buried, unglazed, porous clay pots filled with water to provide controlled irrigation to plants. The water seeps out through the clay wall of the buried clay pot at a rate that is influenced by the plant’s water use. This leads to very high efficiency, even better than drip irrigation, and as much as 10 times better than conventional surface irrigation. This method is also very effective in saline soil or when saline irrigation water must be used. It has proved useful for land restoration in very arid environments.

Want to conserve water but still want to make sure you aren't under-watering your garden? Want to establish a simple greenhouse irrigation system? Clay pot irrigation can save 50-70% of water without depriving your plants.

This is an adaptation of an ancient method of irrigation that is thought to have originated in Africa 4,000 years ago. It uses the porous nature of clay pots to allow osmotic pressure to suck the water into the soil where it is needed. People use beautiful fired pots called Olla with a narrow neck buried in the soil.

Unless you can make them yourself, this may prove an expensive solution so here's an inexpensive and simple alternative.

Get hold of an ordinary 25 cm (10 inch) terracotta pot. Plug the hole with a wine cork. Bury it almost up to its neck in the soil but not too deep so that soil falls into the pot. Fill it with water. Add a terracotta lid.

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