Drip systems are usually not so good for remote sites in low-tech areas because they require

a lot of technology to keep the systems working. The buried clay pot system is one of the most efficient irrigation methods and is ideal for gardeners and small-scale farmers. Clay pot irrigation uses a buried, unglazed clay pot filled with water to provide controlled irrigation to plants. The water seeps out through the clay wall at a rate that is influenced by the plant·s water needs. When I began the buried clay pot trials, I found that the water efficiency was so good, and I kept up with the research. In India, for example, melon yield with the buried clay pot system was 25 tons/hectare using only 2 cm of water, compared with yields of 33 tons/hectare using 26 cm of water with flood irrigation. But unfortunately scientists don·t typically study these traditional practices. Currently, I am working on wick irrigation, which is an old, traditional practice that goes back hundreds of years. Wick irrigation can be used in conjunction with the buried clay pot system. A hole or series of holes is punched in the buried clay pot and a porous wick is inserted in the hole. The material wicks the water from the container into the soil and provides a slow, steady source of moisture for plant growth. I conducted experiments in the California desert on these systems and found 2-10 times greater efficiency than drip irrigation systems. Farmers have been very pleased with the clay pot trials. Crops grown using clay pot irrigation include tomatoes, corn, beans, onions and garlic. Researchers in India have found that the clay pots provide steady moisture so crops like tomatoes have flourished.

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