Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2014VI248B

Active and Passive Irrigation as Means to Establish Trees on Arid and Semi-Arid Sites.

Institute: Virgin Islands
Year Established: 2014 Start Date: 2014-03-01 End Date: 2015-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $16,300 Total Non-Federal Funds: Not available

Principal Investigators: Michael Morgan, Thomas Zimmerman

Abstract: The original vegetation of the US Virgin Islands is classified as (sub) tropical dry forest (Holdridge, 1978). Tropical dry forests are subject to periods of drought and water stress that can last months or weeks. Drought and water stress can inhibit the establishment of new trees by killing seedlings and inhibiting growth of the surviving trees.Often times, supplementary water is needed to ensure that tree seedlings and newly planted saplings survive in the field. We will compare two water conservation systems for tree planting, one passive and the other active, against a control. The passive system consists of a small basin dug out of the ground, to collect rain water and allow it to soak into the ground before it runs off. The active system is a 2" diameter PVC pipe dug vertically into the ground to a depth of 12". Supplementary water will be poured into the pipe in order to concentrate water in the root zone of the plant. The control treatment will be trees planted the conventional way.The tree species selected for study are: Mammey Appple, (Mammea americana), Puerto Rican Thatch Palm (Sabal causarium), and Bay-rum (Pimenta racemosa). The benefit of this research will be the confirmation and demonstration of two low cost, effective ways to establish trees in areas that either normally receive low levels of precipitation such as the tropical dry forests of Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands or in the deserts of the American South West.