water saving irrigation experiments
Research aimed at quantifying effectiveness of cost-effective water-saving techniques in the growth of annual vegetables.
Over the last few years, I have noticed a marked drop in rainfall in my area in the South East of England. This has resulted in the reduction in the amount of watering in the annual vegetable patch and I realised the need to apply the water we have in a very targeted way.
The lack of water is a worrying trend and one which I have become aware of more acutely due to an ongoing relationship with a community in a small town in the Eastern Cape in South Africa. The availability of fresh water is so limited and offers us a glimpse into a possible future for ourselves in the UK. I wanted the research to be helpful for this challenged community so I focused on low-cost and easy methods to grow edible plants with less water.
There are lots of methods online but none of them have attempted to quantify the water-saving offered. I designed this research to explore which factors affected plant growth and fruit yield. I measured plant height, leaf number, soil hydration, water given and fruit yield over a single growth season. I looked at the following questions:
• Which irrigation method resulted in the most growth?
• Does plant height or leaf number relate to fruit production?
• Does soil hydration relate to plant growth?
• Which method used the largest volume of water?
From these questions I determined which methods offered the greatest fruit yield for the least amount of water.
The experiments were based in my small greenhouse during 2020.