Archive for the ‘water conservation’ Category

He Can’t Read or Write, But He’s Changing a Continent

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Yacouba Sawadogo is a farmer in the western African nation of Burkina Faso. He recently revived an ancient planting technique and adapted it to the more arid climate of Africa today.

It had long been the practice among Sahelian farmers to dig zai–shallow pits–that concentrate scarce rainfall onto the roots of crops. Sawadogo increased the size of his zai to capture more rainfall. But his most important innovation, he says, was to add manure to the zai during the dry season, a practice his peers derided as wasteful.Sawadogo’s experiments worked: by concentrating water and fertility in pits, he increased crop yields. But the most significant result was one he hadn’t anticipated: tiny trees began to sprout amid his rows of millet and sorghum, thanks to seeds contained in the manure. As one growing season followed another, it became apparent that the trees–now a few feet high–were further increasing crop yields while also restoring soil fertility. “Since I began this technique of rehabilitating degraded land, my family has enjoyed food security in good years and bad,” Sawadogo says.

The changes have been adopted by other farmers and have helped rehabilitate more than 12 million acres of degraded land.

The tree-based farming that Sawadogo and hundreds of thousands of other poor farmers in the Sahel have adopted could help millions of their counterparts around the world cope with climate change. Already these practices have spread across vast portions of Burkina Faso and neighboring Niger and Mali, turning millions of acres of what had become semi-desert in the 1980s into more productive land. The transformation is so pervasive that the new greenery is visible from outer space via satellite pictures. With climate change, much more of the planet’s land will be hot and arid like the Sahel. It only makes sense, then, to learn from the quiet green miracle unfolding there.

Plants that say, ‘No thank you’ to water and pesticides

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

The Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College spans a few acres and features an expanse of Native Plants as well as drought tolerant plants from around the world.

Living in an arid climate the advantages of these types of plants are many-

-They only need light water once a month or so

-Native plants have a natural resistance to bugs. No need for pesticides or fertilizers that eventually end up in the ocean.

-Natural resistance to weeds. Once established they don’t need much effort to keep looking great.

Jeremy used a pencil to take notes for us.


I had no idea that the average size lawn uses 26,000 gallons of water every year. Still need to have grass? That’s OK. This exhibit shows what you can do with 6,ooo gallons per year.

Alternative to lawns

One small example from the Native Plant Exhibit

Native Plant

Just looking to do something with your patio or deck? They have you covered with a Container Garden-

Container Garden

In summertime, be sure to go early. It can get hot in East County San Diego.

Cost of admission is a voluntary donation. Or as Homer Simpson likes to say, “That’s just a fancy way of saying it’s free.”

Neat Idea for Growing Vegetables

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

A semi-conductor executive has come up with an affordable ‘closed loop watering system’ for vegetable gardens. It uses 75% less water than traditional vegetable gardens. This is great for people with patios or poor soil conditions like we have have here in coastal southern California. It seems like like this would work well for the very arid regions like Africa. Because it’s in a container the plant can be moved.

Unlike manual or drip irrigation top watering, the EarthTainer employs a bottom up, automated watering approach based on the principle of capillary action. Water stored in the lower reservoir is wicked up into the soil much like the wick in a candle draws the liquefied wax upward to the flame. Moisture meets the roots of the plant where the plant “drinks” just as much water as it needs. This water consumption will vary significantly throughout the growing season as the plant produces fruit, and by providing a constant supply of water from the reservoir, the plant can achieve optimal growth and productivity.

Earth Trainer Diagram

Earth Trainer

Full grown Earthg Trainer

There are PDF plans available for free. They do however ask for a donation to Feed the

Via Matt Haughey