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RISE Permaculture Garden
RISE Permaculture Garden
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Commenced:
01/10/2015
Submitted:
19/10/2015
Last updated:
11/01/2016
Location:
New Cairo, EG
Website:
http://www.aucegypt.edu/Sustainability/Rise/Pages/Home.aspx
Climate zone:
Hot Desert





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RISE Permaculture Garden

RISE Permaculture Garden

New Cairo, EG


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david viala Mustafa Fatih Bakir Olha Yaroshenko Sherifa El Alfy Tina Jaskolski

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Drip and Olla Irrigation Theory and Practice

Project: RISE Permaculture Garden

Posted by Starr Brainard about 8 years ago

Find photos from installing drip irrigation in the RISE Permaculture Garden here.

RISE staff and work study students installed drip irrigation in the RISE Permaculture Garden yesterday. The drip irrigation will be used to help the trees become established. Drip irrigation delivers a slow drip of water directly to a plant's roots reducing evaporation, runoff, and water waste associated with other methods of irrigation such as flood and sprinkler.  The goal is to compare the drip irrigation to the buried zirs, a passive vernacular method of irrigation. Zirs are large versions of ollas, unglazed clay pots.  These zirs were buried and are regularly filled with water. This water then migrates through tiny pores in the zir into dry soil through a process called osmosis. Water will leave the zir only if the surrounding earth is out of equilibrium and is drier than the zir, maintaining a consistent state of damp passively.  The zirs also significantly reduce evaporation, because the water is stored and released underground away from sun and wind. Subsoil irrigation also helps encourage plants to grow deep strong roots, a must for surviving in harsh desert climates.

This is how ollas and zirs work theoretically. In practice execution is more complicated. In the RISE Permaculture Garden the soil is extremely sandy. In fact, it is just sand with surprise pockets of compost from a past land use. Sand is ideal for drainage, but not for absorbing and retaining water. Because of this, our zirs drain much more quickly than desired. Due to lack of organic matter, water is likely not being absorbed laterally as much as needed to reach the new trees’ roots and provide for ground covers. We need to focus on soil creation before the zirs can reach their full potential, but we are optimistic about the benefits they could provide.

Through trial, error, and research RISE aspires to develop its knowledge about the best permaculture practices for Egypt and similar arid climates in developing countries. Anyone interested in supporting this effort should contact RISE at [email protected].

Comments (2)

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John Lee
John Lee : It is difficult to find olla manufacturers in the U.S. and one would surely have to make something as large as a zir oneself.

Were you able to purchase your ollas and zirs reasonably somewhere or did you make them?
Posted about 8 years ago

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Starr Brainard
Starr Brainard : Here in Egypt they are relatively easy to find. Ollas are regularly used as passive "desert air conditioners" for street cafes and to keep water cool in village homes. Zirs are little harder to find, but are used to filter iron out of rusty well water in the Western Desert. Long story short they are available around Cairo for decent prices, and we did not make our own.
Posted about 8 years ago

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