As we are based on the Sinai Peninsula and growing in a desert climate, we decided to irrigate mainly with the clay pot irrigation system. Many scientific studies had shown, that the irrigation with clay pots can save a big deal of water compared to a dripping water system (50-75%), reduces salinity in the ground and leads to less soil compaction.
So far, we do not know of anybody who watered crops with that system here on Sinai. So let’s experiment…
Here a short explanation on ‘howtopedia’ of clay pot irrigation and two further links to the clay pot water system.
Pitcher Irrigation or Clay pots irrigation is an inexpensive small-scale irrigation method practiced in the semi-arid areas. The system consists of burying unglazed clay pots in the soil up to their neck. When the pot is filled with water, the natural pores in the pot’s walls allow water to spread laterally in the soil, creating the moist conditions necessary for plant growth. Pitchers are filled as needed, maintaining a continuous supply of water directly to the plant root zone.
Pitcher irrigation is used for small-scale irrigation where:
- Water is either scarce or expensive.
- Fields are difficult to level such as under uneven terrain.
- Water is saline and cannot be normally used in surface methods of irrigation.
- In remote areas where vegetables are expensive and hard to come by.
One of the advantages of using pitchers for irrigation is the result of their water saving capacity.
To compare pitcher irrigation to flood or sprinkler irrigation one must correct for the fact that the scales are radically different. Pitcher irrigation is used on small-scale, while flood and sprinkler systems are for more extensive irrigation. Taking this into account, pitcher irrigation is still more efficient. Pitcher irrigation uses water more efficiently than other systems since it delivers water directly to plant root zones, instead of to broader areas of the field. With pitcher irrigation, deep percolation losses are negligible since water is released from smaller areas, and the rate of water loss can be controlled site to site by the amount of water put in each pitcher. Water requirements in a pitcher irrigated field can be even less than those of a drip irrigated system (of the same scale) due to the very low hydraulic conductivity of the pitchers, as well as reduced evaporation losses.