Farmers Flood Fields to Store Rainwater. Next is Protecting it from Evaporation

Dan Charles Recently posted a story on NPR,

As Rains Soak California, Farmers Test How To Store Water Underground

about farmers flooding their fields with rainwater in order to infiltrate the water into store the water in soil and replenish groundwater.  I was happy to see that article, and wanted to add my experiences to the discussion.

I have been using swales to infiltrate and store road runoff in the Mojave Desert for a few years now.  Thanks to heavily compacted soil and a meager budget (subject for future blogs), construction of my rain garden is several years in the making.  During this time I am making observations that are helping me finalize the ultimate design of my garden.

I found that the next challenge will be to protect the stored water from evaporation.  I found that only place where soil moisture remained was where soil was covered with heavy tarp and rocks.  It is amazing how fast soil moisture will evaporate back into the atmosphere.  I also learned from a recent plumbing class, taught by Paul Deel at Victor Valley College, that capillary action and a string caught in a sink drain  will drain water from the trap in a sink drain.  His instruction combined with my observations that organic mulch provides limited protection for soil moisture in desert environments leads me to think that effective storage of rain water in soil will require a cover that breaks capillary action provided by organic matter in the soil.

I have been looking to both nature and to permaculture practices to find solutions to the challenges of protecting soil moisture in the desert.  I have been informally trying several approaches to protecting soil moisture on a small scale to see what works.  These attempts will be subject matter for future blogs.  In the mean time I have a leaky roof to repair, walls to plaster, and plumbing to fix. Until then, way to go Don Cameron, the general manager of Terranova Ranch! Thank you for your leadership.  Thank you Dan Charles and NPR for writing and posting his story. And thank you Paul Deel for teaching me that plumbing can make me a better gardener.

About Caliche Chick

I retired from a career as an Environmental Scientist and Botanist. My first career was teaching science and English as a Second Language (ESL), and content classes for ESL students at the middle school level. I also taught introductory biology at the community college level. I have an avid interest in plants that grow with little to no irrigation. I also keep a vegetable garden, fruit trees, and back yard chickens. When I am not in my yard, I am taking Construction Technology Classes at Victor Valley College and working on my "fixer upper" home.
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3 Responses to Farmers Flood Fields to Store Rainwater. Next is Protecting it from Evaporation

  1. Glad CA is finally getting some rain. I’ll be interested to see how your water management efforts fare. Where I live we normally have plentiful rain and I rarely need to do supplemental watering except for containers and new plants.


  2. maddisen1953 says:

    Very informative. Now I know what comes post swales.


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