In a Nutshell
Clay pot irrigation is a traditional irrigation method practiced in Africa, Asia, India, South America and in recent years it has conquered Europe, too. Locally manufactured clay pots are buried up to their necks in the soil, filled with water, and seeds or seedlings are planted around them. The clay pots release the water slowly into the soil and the plants are constantly irrigated with just the right amount of water to grow.
Clay pot irrigation is an auto-regulative irrigation method especially useful in sustainable small farming, horticulture, vegetable gardening and aforestation in arid and semi arid regions.
Benefits of Clay Pot Irrigation
- Clay pot irrigation can be applied in difficult conditions of extreme aridity, limited water supply, sandy soil, high salinity and when initial set-up and maintenance costs have to be kept as low as possible.
- Numerous field studies have shown that clay pot irrigation can save up to 90% of water compared to furrow, drip and hand irrigation. Still yield results are the same or even higher. In all studies clay pot irrigation has the best water use efficiency ratio.
- Initial set-up and maintenance costs are less expensive compared to other irrigation systems like drip or sprinkler irrigation.
- Farmers save time since re-filling the pots is only necessary once or twice a week, in case of certain fruit trees even just once to twice a month is sufficient.
- Weed growth is reduced compared to other irrigation methods due to the water being distributed to the roots of the plants, not to the surface of the soil. The need for plowing and weeding is minimized.
- The clay pots are comparably cheap in price since they are manufactured by local pot-makers from locally available soil. Communal farmers, especially women, can manufacture the pots without having to develop special skills.
- Clay pot irrigation is entirely based on local resources. It can easily be installed, operated, maintained and managed by local people.
- Once the technology is installed and taken care of well, the system can be used for multiple seasons.
- Clay pots clog less than other irrigation systems and can easily be cleaned by brushing or re-firing. They can be re-used over and over again. Broken pots can be used for manufacturing new pots or for enhancing the soil texture.
- Unlike other systems of irrigation, clay pot irrigation needs no water pressure, water filters or a pump to work properly.
- Saline water can be used for irrigation with clay pots without reducing yield.
- Clay pot irrigation helps preventing the desertification of oases and stabilizing effects of heavy winds and sand dunes in coastal areas by growing fruits, vegetables and shrubs.
Multiple projects and field schools funded by governments, the United Nations, and non profit organisations have been and are being conducted around the world to distribute and apply the knowledge about this sustainable, efficient, cost-saving, traditional irrigation system.
If you are interested in applying the clay pot irrigation system yourself, if you want to distribute its knowledge with your organisation or offer a field school, or if you are interested in working together scientifically or in practice, you are welcome to contact us.
Open access papers about clay pot irrigation
You can find reviews of scientific studies about clay pot irrigation with links to the open access publications in the Bibliography of Introduced and Reviewed Studies.