Not only are Ollas simple, less expensive, and more reliable . . . they can cut water use 90% below surface irrigation, and 50% below drip irrigation!
Here is what David A. Bainbridge of the Dry Lands Research Institute at the University of California-Riverside had to say:
"Drip irrigation has helped increase water-use efficiency in gardens and farms, but drip systems are for the well-off. To work reliably, the drip emitters require regulated water pressure, pumps, electricity, automated controls, careful filtration, and regular maintenance. . . . I started off using drip systems in the desert but found that drip emitters were easily blocked with sediment and salt and that several insect species specialize in plugging the emitters. Worse yet, coyotes, rabbits, and other animals chewed on and destroyed my drip tubing even when it was dry and open water was available nearby."
He goes on to say, "In a study of repellents to discourage animals from eating my plants in the California desert, all the drip tubing was snipped off before the plants were touched. . . . These vulnerabilities frustrated me and often led to complete failure of drip systems in remote or less developed areas.
So . . . . Ollas may be more practical and robust, but how can they be so much (50%!) more efficient than drip?
It has to do with where the water goes. When you overhead water or water with drip systems, you are saturating entire areas of soil. Much of the water will never make it to plants' roots before it evaporates or runs off.
Ollas are different way of using water. Plants' roots seek out and will grow toward the Ollas. Strong root systems are encouraged as the roots go deep to gather around and under the Olla, eventually creating suction to pull water through the Olla's walls as needed, creating almost 100% water efficiency.
As David A Bainbridge says, "These simple, sturdy systems work well and add value. They can dramatically increase plant survival, improve plant growth, and increase crop yield under the most severe conditions. They reduce water demand and help develop more robust plants that better tolerate drought."
Give one a try . . . I think you are going to be amazed by these ancient, brilliant, simple pots!