Initial Publication Date: August 12, 2008

Drought Mitigation Trade-offs

What are the trade-offs for mitigating drought by using new technologies in farming?

Soil cut-away to show drip irrigation system. Photo courtesy of USDA Agricultural Research Service.

Explore the positive and negative aspects of switching to drip or micro-irrigation systems to reduce water use. The following links can provide a starting point for your research.

Explore the pros and cons of using plastic sheets as mulch around plants to conserve water.

Hands-on Activity

Build a low-tech drip system

  1. Gather these materials:
    • 1- or 2-liter plastic drink or water bottle with a flat-surfaced cap
    • hammer and a small finishing nail OR a hand drill with small drill bit
    • serrated knife or tin snips to cut plastic bottle
    • potted plant with in a 6-inch or larger diameter pot
    • water
  2. Follow the instructions to make your own Pop Bottle Drip Irrigation System. Use the tools safely.
  3. Bury your irrigation system as directed so the drip holes are directed toward the roots of the plant.
  4. Measure the diameter of the pot and calculate the volume of water it would take to flood the pot with 1 inch of water above the soil surface. Compare that volume of water with the estimate of water soaking a 2-inch diameter approximately 1 inch deep around the plant's roots.