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Olla Irrigation Technology: An Ancient and Hyper-Efficient Irrigation Method

Updated: Mar 31, 2023

Olla irrigation, an ancient and highly efficient method of watering plants, has been used worldwide for thousands of years. It involves burying unglazed terracotta pots in the ground, which release water slowly to the surrounding soil, allowing plant roots to absorb moisture as needed. The rate at which water is released is determined by plant needs. Not only does this method significantly reduce water consumption, but it also leads to decreased use of fertilizers and pesticides.

The unusual part is that this ancient irrigation method remains little known, despite still being the most efficient soil irrigation method available. In fact, its water efficiency is so great that it is comparable to hydroponics in water efficiency, without requiring any electricity or apps.

So you get the efficiency of sophisticated, hyper-connected technological solutions such as hydroponics, without needing to connect at all. You can take a break from technology, which is as it should be when you're tending to your plants.

Needless to say, ollas are far more efficient than even drip irrigation (Cirelli et al. 2018). Studies have shown that olla irrigation yield higher crop production, better water productivity, and increased nutrient uptake in plants (Carrijo et al., 2017). So, compared to say, hydroponics, olla-grown crops are healthier and better-tasting. We've written about this, here. Overall, ollas reduce water usage while simultaneously boosting crop output (Lopez et al., 2018).

But ollas are traditionally used in a conventional agricultural set-up. That is to say, a 2D landscape of agriculture, which is struggling to keep up with humanity's 3D high-rise living. Most people simply don't have enough space to grow herbs and vegetables from home using ollas.

Now, imagine combining the power of olla irrigation with a modern vertical farming system. You'd get the extreme efficiency of this ancient technology in a modern form factor, without requiring electricity or yet another app.

That's exactly what Garden Stack offers. Garden Stack is a modular vertical gardening system that integrates olla irrigation technology to create a self-sustaining, water-efficient mini-farm. Nothing else like it has ever existed. With multiple platforms fitting in a tight space, Garden Stack allows you to conserve even more water while maximizing your gardening potential in any given surface area.

Moreover, using soil in a vertical farm fosters an ideal environment for microorganisms, leading to healthier soil, stronger plants, and even a healthier brain for you. Check out our blog post on soil microbes and the human brain, here.

Even food marketed as "local" needs to be transported to a store and then to consumers' homes. Not to mention the production and transportation of all the associated packaging! We need carefree solutions to get people in the habit of efficiently growing food from home, so people can take control of food price inflation, increase their resilience, and help the environment.

Embracing the time-tested approach of olla irrigation can have a significant positive impact on the environment and your gardening experience. By incorporating this ancient technology into the Garden Stack system, the benefits are enhanced, resulting in a truly sustainable and efficient garden.

Give olla irrigation a try and discover how it can revolutionize the way you garden, even if you don't own a garden! Learn more about Garden Stack's unique combination of olla irrigation and vertical farming. Let's accelerate the true localisation of our food production. Learn more here.


Carrijo, D. R., Lundy, M. E., & Linquist, B. A. (2017). Rice yields and water use under alternate wetting and drying irrigation: A meta-analysis. Field Crops Research, 203, 173-180.

Cirelli, G. L., Consoli, S., Licciardello, F., Aiello, R., & Giuffrida, F. (2018). Comparison of Subsurface Irrigation with Un-Glazed Clay Pots and Surface Drip Irrigation for the Production of Zucchini Squash (Cucurbita pepo L.). Water, 10(11), 1491.

Lopez, J. C., Silvera, G., Iriarte, A., & Villalobos, L. (2018). Olla irrigation, an ancient technique of water management for crops, as a sustainable alternative for modern agriculture: A review. Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology, 93(5), 423-433.


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