With climate change wreaking havoc on usual weather patterns, relying on rainfall to nourish newly planted trees does not work. Rain is just as abruptly replaced with episodes of continued dry spells, there is a need for better water management and irrigation techniques to ensure lower mortality rates or even eradicate having new trees die.
Towards this end, Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. has encouraged its tree growing partners to adopt the drip irrigation system, which is a simple technology that directly addresses scarcity of water moisture, especially of newly planted seedlings. The system, which the foundation helped develop in Cebu, makes use of empty plastic bottles and is one way of conserving water while helping plants get needed moisture during the dry months.
Drip irrigation during tree-planting activities involves the following procedure:
- Fill up the empty plastic bottle with water. (Please note that the empty plastic bottles to be used should have a functional cap and without holes.) Once full, reseal the bottle by twisting the cap and tightening it. Be sure not to over-tighten the cap to avoid losing its thread.
- Make a one-to-two-millimeter hole at the vertical bottom portion of the bottle 10 to 15 millimeters from the bottom portion.
- Loosen the cap to check if the hole is functional. It is considered functional if water flows continuously from the hole. Tighten back the cap to control the flow of air that regulates the flow of water. Just allow a slow drop of the water, enough to provide continuous moisture to the soil.
- Put the filled-up bottle beside the newly planted seedling. Make sure that the hole is facing directly the root system of the seedling.
- Fill the hole with loose soil. Make sure that a one-to-two-inch portion of the cap area of the bottle is visible above ground. This allows easy refilling of the water.
- Add organic mulch of dry leaves besides the newly planted seedlings to regulate the heat at the base of the newly planted seedling.
- Check and refill the bottle with water eight to 10 days after planting, especially during summer or during a drought.
- In addition, the drip bottle can also be used as a container for liquid fertilizer for seedlings that need direction nutrient support. After one year, the drip irrigation plastic bottle can be transferred to another newly planted seedling.