Ethics

Irrigation the Other Way

Rather than pumps and pipes and all those expensive systems, why not just lay out the land in flats and catch the snow?

Because the effects are short-lived? Well, then amplify them.

A little shade will do the trick, not just for protection from the sun, but to collect more water from the blowing winter wind. Taking the flat out of the land helps, too.

Better yet, combine these tricks:

Bunchgrass Combining the Three Tricks Above in One. Water that melts from the snow is stored by the grass’s roots. Because of the blue-green algae in the soil’s crust, it is nitrogen rich.

It doesn’t have to be grass. One can get inventive.

Here’s a crop that is mining the snow melt on this rock, sponging it up, against gravity on one side and catching any overflow on the other. This principle is easily expanded. Big Sage knows how.

See that? Snow drifts have collected above the sagebrush. It has melted them in a circle around itself, and then lives off the water that drains towards its roots. Perhaps you can just make out the green lichen flourishing in the warm bowl of heat under the core of the big sage? That makes two crops, off water gathered by one and actually harvested by it. In turn, the lichen keeps the sage’s roots cool in summer. A fine relationship. All too esoteric, and not enough fun with technology? Ah, have a look at my neighbour’s pickup.

Pickup Bed

Look at that! A hollow (pickup box) catches snow drifts. Its dark colour (plastic) melts the drifts (like a glacier) into channels (like river valleys), in which hydroponic crops (lichen) grow. We could put all this together, chose crops wisely, and have an irrigation system that complemented the land, at little cost. We could. Failing to do so makes a desert of the valley bottoms and unusable land in the high country, where water is currently gathered.

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