Critical issue identified!! Full recovery (though way too late with reduced yield) in the wings! This one requires a bit of detail so bear with me here.
I am ignorant and a fool! Let’s start with that. This is a multi failure scenario.
Firstly, I made the mistake of not installing a particle filter after water source before drip line emitters. I live in the desert, my water isn’t sealed, which can get sand in it which can then clog emitters.
Secondly, I get my water from a commercial well dirt cheap and truck it 15 miles to my 40acres in BFE. They do not care about quality infiltration, and being a well: mineral content is high.
Thirdly and most devastatingly, water flows downhill.
Fourth, I did not hunt for pressure compensating drip line rolls. I was under the gun to get babies in the ground, and just used what was available…to my detriment.
The situation as it occurred to the best of my detective abilities:
Sand is introduced to my IBC tote and passes through the particle filter that doesn’t exist unobstructed and is distributed over time to start clogging emitters.
As I introduce nutrients directly to the IBC tote a biofilm is generated and ignored. This normally stays on top but can be drawn down in pieces further clogging the main screen on my on off toggle for flow. The high mineral content water drom commercial well also begins clogs. Pic of said biofilm.
Each plant has over 35 emitters over 3 circles of varying diameter. I woulld check to ensure some water had been eeked out over time and didn’t check emitters individually. This led to a slow failure getting worse and worse.
Pressure or not compensating drippers and water flowing downhill. Pressure compensating drippers work by ensuring variances in pressure do not affect water output. Meaning if my hose psi constantly changes or experienced spikes it won’t flood that plant or under deliver in the opposite case.
My plants are on a slight slope. This was accounted for and the slight change in elevation wouldnt matter enough to make a difference in output with non pressure compensating drippers…unless…theyre…clogged
As gravity provides water pressure the greater difference in elevation…it screwed me!
Imagine an IBC tote at the top of the hill with a hose supplying water downhill. This is my setup.
As the emitters near the IBC tote began to get clogged the non pressure compensating drippers stopped working efficiently.
Because fluids go to the path of least resistance, like, you know, downhil… tThis he emitters were never purged of their clog…however, my very last plant at the bottom of the hill had no clogs. Why? Pressure drop up top due to clogs equals pressure increase downhill which actually causes a purging situation to small particles and mineral buildup in the drip line.
So overtime all emitters uphill became more clogged due to continuing pressure drop making one downhill the only reliable emitter.
Here is the data for soil moisture levels on all six remaining plants. The 2 letters are strain and number range is moisture on top layer and moisture 6 inches down. Scale is from.0 to 10 with 100 being a cup of liquid water.
FG 2.6 to 5.5 Lowest elevation
GP1 1.8 to 2.8
GP2 2.5 to 3.5 Second lowest elevation (slopes wobbly)
GP3 0 to 1.5
GP4 DEAD RIP 8/25
GP5 0 to 1.2
GB - 0 to 0 ! DRY Highest elevation
As you can see the highest elevation point is dry and lowest soaked. Drippers up top completely clogged with reduction in clogs as go down the line.
The last issue was my “helper” spent like 30seconds tilling per hole. I mixed by hand the first hole on lowest end and insisted on a refill up top. Guess which plants biggest? The hole I hand mixed. The next biggest? The one I insisted on re tilling. The third? The hole he did first before he got tired.
Why do I think this matters? I put an amazing and of work into soil composition which ended up not doing much because it wasnt even mixed. I put my hand down into a couple holes and get straight sand for six inches. Without the adequate soil composition the plants had zero chance at holding water and retaining it in the event of a disaster.
My only excuse is life is absolutely insane atm…but not a real good one.
The lessons I take away from this are:
- Install particle filters on water out at source.
- Use water softener or soaker hose or an emission system not susceptible to clogs.
- Check moisture levels with probe at regular basis.
- Buy pressure compensating drippers!
- Mix the soil personally or mix well then add to a hole.
- Bad genes can’t be THAT bad.
I wish that I could say me not tilling the holes was my issue but sadly I believe I have had a multi faceted failure here.
My solution for healing is thus:
Dripper system has to go for now until I can get pressure comp drip line plus particle filter plus mineral removal solution or choose another dripline like soaker hose.
I will be manually watering them daily until moisture levels at deep layers are reached with probe.
I have crafted 2 buckets with a 1/16 hole drilled in bottom. We used to use this for watering trees too far away from.any waterline in the city during drought restrictions. It allows a pinpoint delivery of water over a period of 4 hrs or so due to small hole.
Here’s to deduction and finally putting some crazy puzzles together for this beginner. I hope I am on right track, I feel lucky to have some actual crop experience that has helped me figure this.
Edit. I wanted to add that my prejudice towards the non false grizzurp strains or the Gooberry helped mask this problem to me. Because the top and bottom were doing so well I had chalked up the whole issue to bad genetics! How did the top remain healthy? Well…it was my fav so I supplementary watered it a bit PLUS soil composition was vastly different.
TLDR: Yippetty doo! I thinks I solved it.