Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Rebuilding Ecosystems After a Man Made or Natural Disaster

Now that Hurricane Sandy has passed and the News Reporter's  Cameras can reveal to us the destruction aftermath in living colour, people now must strategize and calculate the costs of rebuilding. Not just there homes, but also their landscapes and private wildland acreages, if they are so lucky to own them. Even now plans are being made to harvest any downed trees in what are called Salvage Forestry Operations. Whether State or Private Landowners, the opportunity to make some quick CA$H especially in times of shaky economy would seem to make Dollar $ense. But is this the best way to rebuild the wild woodlands across these regions ? How do such policies really effect the future forest resources economy ? Are the conventional methods of U.S. Forest Service restoration techniques going to truly be the best for all concerned when it comes to the complete picture ? What exactly is the best strategy for rehabilitating and restoring a devastated ecosystem ? Would you believe DO NOTHING at all ??????
(Edwin Torres - Yahoo Contributor Network)
Hurricane Sandy countless giant trees such as these in this New Jersey Neighbourhood. It's called, rebuild Nature's Way or hitting the Highway!

photo by Richard Halsey
 California Chaparral Institute

http://www.californiachaparral.com/
Incredible as these natural or un-natural disasters are which seem to occur on a regular basis in the News Reports these days, it's clear that attempts at working against Nature as opposed to working with Nature can actually have long lasting damaging consequences. I can understand wanting to put back something once beautiful back the way it was. I can understand and relate personally to the feeling of impatience that an imperfect human being has in wanting results NOW as opposed to actually being patient and waiting for natural processes engineered into every ecosystem to do it's work. Especially since there is this nagging feeling that I may feel I'll never see nor experience such pristine old growth scenery again. Let's face it, we all have short life spans and are driven to less than ideal behavior as a result. Cuyamaca State Park in San Diego County is a prime example. I always considered it to be the wild pristine Old Growth Yosemite of Southern California.  In that one fatal decision of a single irresponsible individual Hunter, thousands of years of building and development of a breath taking natural resource are gone in less than a week. Of course logic only dictates that there should be a measure of clean up and rebuilding.  No one argues that. Yet patience, thinking and pondering a restoration project with a clear level head beforehand and not allowing desperate emotional hurried or rushed responses which cloud judgement are really what is necessary here. 
Previously I've written about many of the holistic approaches to building or rebuilding various ecosystems and pointed the readers here to much of the very logical research work done by Richard Halsey of the California Chaparral Institute and other publications and studies which made similar conclusions that after fire disasters, it should be a HANDS-OFF approach which is far more effective than rushing to remedy what is considered a bad situation. In fact it has been found that the long practiced land restoration techniques hinder natural rebuilding or actually create newer problems. Take for example these logical conclusions found at the Western Fire Ecology Center website where common sense approaches of HANDS-OFF have been found sufficient for ecosystem recovery. 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
There is no ecological need for immediate intervention on the post-fire landscape:
"With respect to the need for management treatments after fires, there is generally no need for urgency, nor is there a universal, ecologically-based need to act at all.  By acting quickly,. we run the risk of creating new problems before we solve the old ones. Ecologically speaking, fires do not require a rapid human response.  We should not talk about a "fire crisis" but rather of managing the landscape with the anticipation that fire will eventually occur.  Given the high degree of variability and high uncertainty about the impacts of post-fire responses, a conservative approach is warranted, particularly on sites susceptible to on-site erosion." 
And this is a logical conclusion in applying a restraint on the emotional tendency to interfere or force what is believed to be a faster recovery of a once pristine forested ecosystem. Too much interference has been proven to be a hindrance to recovery than of facilitating it. Allow natural recovery and recognize the temporal scales involved with ecosystem development.  Human intervention should not be permitted unless and until it is determined that natural recovery processes are not occurring.
"Human intervention on the post-fire landscape may substantially or completely delay recovery, remove the elements of recovery, or accentuate the damage.  Many such adverse consequences are difficult or impossible to predict or foresee in specific situations.  In this light there is little reason to believe that post-,fire salvage logging has any positive ecological benefits, particularly for aquatic ecosystems.  There is considerable evidence that persistent, significant adverse environmental impacts are likely to result from salvage logging, based on many past cases of salvage projects, plus our growing knowledge of ecosystem functions and land-aquatic linkages.  These impacts include soil compaction and erosion, loss of habitat for cavity nesting species, loss of structurally and functionally important large woody debris."
Well there you have it. Clearly land clearing of debris hinders growth and development. Removal of various components also creates a void in wildlife habitat by the absence of cavity nesting sites and early recovery vegetation which provides not only cover, but valuable food sources for both trees and animals. Often times this obsession with what are considered valuable tree species to the biased human eye are nothing more than "eye appeal" in the emotional minds of misguided researchers. There is more to the life and health of any ecosystem than mere vegetation. Richard Halsey recently pointed this out on his review of the present ongoing failed recovery policies of the Rancho Cuyamaca State Park in San Diego County. Here is a look at his Google+ Account Photo Gallery and I'll reference just three of his photos for reference on the flawed mindset of those in charge of land management who should know better. Click on each photo and read the accompanying text for the explanation.
Damaging Rancho Cuyamaca State Park

Image: Richard Halsey
This is a photograph of the cut fire line which attempts to eliminate unwanted species which are considered an "eye sore" and save what are considered valuable species for no other logical reason than they look prettier than CeanothusRedshank, or other chaparral which in reality make later succession of the desired species possible. This method above actually can set things back decades. On another observational note: Who in the world believes Manzanitas to be undesirable ???? =  Nonsense !!!

Notice the warning sign ? Plant Rehabilitation ?  

Richard Halsey's Response below:
"Piles of cut snags (dead trees) that would have provided important habitat, ceanothus, and manzanita. In an attempt to alter the natural post-fire recovery occurring after the 2003 Cedar Fire, park managers (influenced by the same folks at San Diego County's Department of Planning and Land Use who wanted to clear-cut thousands of acres of chaparral in the backcountry) are currently using heavy machinery to remove ceanothus, manzanita, and habitat rich snags (dead trees) from large areas of the park. This will be followed up by a questionable tree planting effort funded mostly by private corporations to acquire carbon credits."

photo credit by Richard Halsey
"Despite being warned by a park field botanist to not disturb this fragile riparian area, this stream bed was heavily impacted by equipment and cut debris."
Okay, so that is Richard Halsey's ongoing research at the California Chaparral Institute and studies which confirm his understanding of how the natural world's ecosystems really work (actually every type of ecosystem globally operates the same identical way). It should be noted that even the Western Fire Recovery Center's findings referenced above were from as far back as March 1995.  But oddly enough nothing seems to have changed as far as policies and management techniques. One has to wonder why such valuable information is shelved in a secret library somewhere and filed away under "Items Of Interesting Note", as opposed to being implemented in practical application and general practice. Are the findings by these people a mere philosophically driven some minority group ???  Not according to recent published findings in the National Science Foundation who published a study called - "In-Blown Forests: A Study of Survival" on October 16, 2012. This was an incredible study and understandable as to why it is only coming to light now. It took over a decade to unfold. In fact this study is what real science is all about. It employed simple common sense techniques involving the true definition of what the "Scientific Method" truly is and which in simple terms is to simply Ask a Question! - Do background research! - Construct a Hypothesis! - Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment! - Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion! & finally Communicate Your Results! This experiment was so simple and easy that even a child could have done it in his/her School's Science Fair Projects. Here's what they found: - (SOURCE)
 http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=125744
In newscasts after intense wind and ice storms, damaged trees stand out: snapped limbs, uprooted trunks, entire forests blown nearly flat. 
In a storm's wake, landowners, municipalities and state agencies are faced with important financial and environmental decisions. 
A study by Harvard University researchers, supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and published in the journalEcology, yields a surprising result: when it comes to the health of forests, native plants and wildlife, the best management decision may be to do nothing.
Salvage logging is a common response to modern storm events in large woodlands. Acres of downed, leaning and broken trees are cut and hauled away. 
Landowners and towns financially recoup with a sale of the damaged timber. But in a salvaged woodland landscape, the forest's original growth and biodiversity, on which many animals and ecological processes depend, is stripped away. 
A thickly growing, early-successional forest made up of a few light-loving tree species develops in its place. 
But what happens when wind-blown forests are left to their own devices? 
The Ecology paper reports results of a 20-year study at NSF's Harvard Forest Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site in Massachusetts. Harvard Forest is one of 26 such NSF LTER sites around the world in ecosystems from coral reefs to deserts, grasslands to the polar regions. 
"To manage sustainable ecosystems, we must understand how they recover from extreme, natural events, such as hurricanes, fires and floods," says Matt Kane, a program director at NSF for LTER. "This process can take decades. The NSF LTER program is uniquely able to support important experiments at the time scales needed." 
At Harvard Forest in 1990, a team of scientists recreated a major hurricane in a two-acre patch of mature oak forest 
Eighty percent of the trees were flattened with a large winch and cable. Half the trees died within three years, and the scientists left the dead and damaged wood on the ground. 
In the 20 years since, the researchers have monitored everything from soil chemistry to the density of leaves on the trees. What they found is a remarkable story of recovery. 
Initially, the site was a nearly impassable jumble of downed trees. But surviving, sprouting trees, along with many new seedlings of black birch and red maple--species original to the forest--thrived amid the dead wood. Although weedy invasive plants initially tried to colonize the area, few persisted for long. 
"Leaving a damaged forest intact means the original conditions recover more readily," says David Foster, co-author of the paper and director of the NSF Harvard Forest LTER site. 
"Forests have been recovering from natural processes like windstorms, fire and ice for millions of years. What appears to us as devastation is actually, to a forest, a natural and important state of affairs." 
After severe tornadoes in Massachusetts in June 2011, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Division of Fisheries and Wildlife pursued a watch-and-wait policy at a site in Southbridge, Mass. There, salvage work is limited to providing access routes for public safety. 
The area is quickly regaining lush, native vegetation. It supports everything from invertebrates to salamanders, and black bears that winter in thick brush piles and forage for insects in rotting logs. 
While a range of economic, public safety and aesthetic reasons seems to compel landowners to salvage storm-damaged trees, paper co-author Audrey Barker-Plotkin of the Harvard Forest site suggests that improving forest health should not be one of them.
"Although a blown-down forest appears chaotic," she says, "it is functioning as a forest and doesn't need us to clean it up." 
-NSF-
Now here's an illustrated view of what they did and the results and conclusions from observations. Once again, even a child gets this!

NSF photo by Marcheterre Fluet
In 1990, this was part of the National Science Foundation's Harvard Forest Long Term Ecological Research (LTER)  site was a jumble of downed trees.  Here at Harvard Forest in 1990, a team of  real Scientists (could have even been done by Mayfield Elementary School kids with Theodore  Cleaver [The Beav] led by Miss Landers) recreated a major Hurricane aftermath scenario in a two acre patch of oak forest.  Eighty percent of the trees were flattened with a large winch and cable. Half the trees died within three years, and the scientists left the dead wood and damaged trees on the ground.
NSF photo by Bill Byrne
Initially the site was impassable jumble of downed trees. But later Sassafras comes to life after significant storm damage. Other surviving and sprouting trees, along with many new seedlings of Black Birch and Red Maple which were original species of the forest  thrived amid the dead wood.

NSF photo by John Hirsch
In the 20 years since researchers have monitored everything from soil chemistry to the density of leaves on the trees. Here above are Harvard Forest ecologists monitoring downed wood in the Hurricane Recreation experiment.

NSF photo by David Foster

Look at this photograph and it's same exact location as the one at the top. Notice that even nine years into the Harvard Forest Hurricane Re-Creation Experiment, trees were everywhere. The area quickly regain it's natural vegetative state quite quickly. Aside from the return of the forest, the other important components of a living ecosystem like Salamanders to black bears were benefited from the left debris which offered over wintering brush piles and foraging opportunities of insects in fallen rotting logs. No doubt even cavity nesting birds found left over snags prime habitat for nest locations.

NSF file photo by Bill Byrne
An actual example of broken and snapped off trees in a Tornado impact area in SouthbridgeMasschusettes, in 2011. So the Hurricane Re-Creation Experiment was an exact prime example of the reality so common after such catastrophic events such as severe weather damage or fire storm damage.
The questions here by readers should be - "Why with all this research and understanding do failed restoration policies and techniques which result in mismanagement and land abuses and other degradation still persist to this day ?"  or how about  "What valuable habitat restoration concepts based on how Nature really works do I personally come away with and how can such techniques be incorporated into my Home Gardening, Urban Landscape or Large Agricultural Project ?" I'll say it once again, this is not Rocket Science. Even a Child gets it!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Prickly Pear Cactus Might Cleanse California Soils

Who would have thought that an often overlooked desert plant as the Prickly Pear Cactus could be utilized in a totally different unique way as never thought possible. Good for those researchers in their on quest for knowledge and improving our ability to use a plant's genetic encoded instincts to work for us instead of a failed technology that fights against Nature itself. 



Studies show that Prickly Pear Cactus could be a useful tool 
for absorbing unwanted Selenium from soils in California's
 
San Joaquin Valley

This story is exciting to me if only because of my fondness for southwestern plants and desert regions. The idea that Prickly Pear Cactus could be used as a Bioremediation Tool is interesting and begs questions about other abilities and possibilities. In my own research and experimentation with Cactus Habitat rebuilding I have noticed that in the areas I have planted them in colonies among Coastal Chaparral Scrub is the lack of invasive Weeds (ruderals) which have become a pest in many areas. Personally I've wondered if maybe Cacti have some form of Allelopathic Properties about them in the root systems. Such an ability prevents competing plants from taking hold in the presence of various biochemicals produced by such established plants. I thus far haven't investigated further, but my past pondering over such cacti root biochemical possibilities were again triggered again by today's article from the USDA blog. Here is the full story:


http://blogs.usda.gov/2012/10/23/prickly-plants-might-cleanse-california-soil/



Agricultural Research Service Soil & plant Scientists Gary
 Bañuelos
 and Horticulturalist Gabriella Romano survey
 fruit on Pricly Pear Cacti, Opuntia ficus-indica, at the ARS
San Joaquin ValleyAgricultural Sciences Center, in
Parlier California.
This actually is not the first investigation and story on this. There was a earlier one back in January 2012 this year. Story quote: 
"The west side of the San Joaquin Valley in California presents several challenges to growers. Ancient seas that once covered the area left behind marine sediments, shale formations, and deposits of selenium and other minerals. Anything grown there needs to be irrigated, but the resulting runoff, when it contains high levels of selenium, can be toxic to fish, migratory birds, and other wildlife that drink from waterways and drainage ditches. Selenium runoff is subject to monitoring by regional water-quality officials. Periodic droughts and population growth are also squeezing supplies of the fresh water available for irrigation."

Photo by Stephen Ausmus
“We need to find a way to keep the land productive, but that becomes difficult when you have environmental concerns stemming from soils with these mineral deposits,” says Gary Bañuelos, an Agricultural Research Service plant/soil scientist with the Water Management Research Unit at the San Joaquin Valley Agricultural Sciences Center in Parlier.
Bañuelos believes that he has found a promising alternative: prickly pear cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica),a drought-tolerant plant. Bañuelos’s studies show that certain cacti tolerate salty soil and take up selenium from it. “We’re hoping to produce a new crop on unproductive land and slowly manage the selenium content of the soil in the process of growing it,” Bañuelos says.


Newly emerging Cactus pad or cladode with flower on field grown Prickly Pear Cactus, Opuntia ficus-indica (Indian Fig or Barbary Fig) which is a species of cactus that has long been a domesticated crop plant important to agricultural communities through out arid and semiarid parts of the world. This particular plant is thought to originate from Mexico and brought up to California by the Spanish Missionaries. Take note that is has less spines than most of the southwest natives which makes it easier to farm.


Typical salty and selenium-laden soil
planted to cotton in the west side of
the Central Valley.
This picture here on the right demonstrates the type of soil problems associated with irrigated land for which the landscape's geologic origin is from ancient seabeds.
"Bañuelos and his colleagues from the University of Palermo, Italy, initially evaluated varieties of Opuntia ficus-indica from the USDA-ARS National Arid Land Genetic Resources Unit at Parlier, which maintains and evaluates plant germplasm adapted to arid conditions. The team’s evaluation focused on the ability of different varieties to tolerate poor-quality soils in greenhouses. Partners in Palermo included Viviana Catanese and Giuseppe Alonzo."


After making those observations, Bañuelos then spent 3 years evaluating five prickly pear varieties from Mexico, Brazil, and Chile for salt and boron tolerance in selenium-laden soils by collecting soils and sediments from the area and growing the varieties in field test plots at the research center in Parlier. He followed normal agronomic practices for the area and used a drip irrigation system that produced very little runoff. Results, published in Soil Use and Management, showed the prickly pear grew reasonably well in the poor quality soil with very little water. Unexpectedly, the plants also took up selenium, volatilizing some of it and keeping some in their fruit and leaf-like stems (cladodes). Other nonessential minerals were not found in higher concentrations in these plant parts.

At the USDA - ARS in San Joaquin Valley Agircultural 
Services Center in Parlier California, technitian Irvin Arroyo
cuts a cladode from the Prickly Pear Cactus
Prickly pear was thought to be sensitive to high salinity. But the study results showed that tolerance to salt and boron depends on the genotype. The cactus variety from Chile had the highest tolerance and was the best at producing fruit and accumulating and volatilizing selenium. Many of the plants grown in test plots were smaller and produced less fruit than those in control plots, but some varieties actually grew better in the test plots. The results were promising enough for selected prickly pear varieties to be considered as a gentle bioremediation tool for soils loaded with selenium.


Prickly Pear Cactus Apple Fruit
“We’ve found this plant needs minimal amounts of water, plus it can survive in these saline and boron soils laced with selenium,” Bañuelos says.—By Dennis O'Brien  Agricultural Research Service Information Staff. Notice in the photo the almost absence of large long spines in this domesticated variety as opposed to wild native species. Once there were very large Prickly Pear Farms in Lakeside California where I grew up.


ARS Scientist Gary Bañuelos (right) 
and grower John Diener survey Prickly
 Pear Cactus growing well in poor quality soil.


Source: 

http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/jan12/cactus0112.htm

Here's a quick look at Lakeside California's Cactus Farming history back in the early and middle 20th century. Here is a link to the Lakeside Historical Society pages on Bernardo & Marie Maniscalco
http://www.lakesidehistory.org/People/Maniscalco/Bernardo/bernardo__marie_maniscalco.htm


Monday, October 1, 2012

Deep Irrigation Methods for Training Deeper Rooting networks

HUNTER INDUSTRIES: Root Zone Watering systems
Image: Hunter Industries
Illustration of the deep underground root watering system by Hunter Industries. This is a intelligent concept especially for warmer drier regions where water is expensive and needs to be desperately conserved. Water better place to store water than deep underground ? But it's also plant engineering smart to establish deeper plant roots in your urban landscape or home gardening projects. In fact with remote site habitat restoration it is an absolute necessity.


Image: Hunter Industires
I really love all these illustrations. Simple illustrations are such excellent teaching techniques. You know, this  world's leadership (Political, Religious, Corporate Science, Institutions of Higher Learning, etc) have by their very nature been some of the worst communicators when it comes to their lame attempts at educating the public as a whole. This is not true of all, but if you are honest with yourself, you'll have to admit it generally  is the rule. I think Hunter Industries have gone the extra mile  here at intelligently educating the public as to what Nature  actually wants and the RESPONSIBLE Scientific Studies & Literature backs them up. Now the question is are you paying  attention and are you willing to give up the conventional  methods that have failed for years ?


Image: Hunter Industries
Extract Text from Hunter's Literature:

  Page 24 of Irrigation Products 2008/2009 by Hunter Industries  

"Root Zone Watering Systems = ( rzws )  RZWS root zone watering system delivers water where it s needed most design also lends rigidity to the irrigation cylinder to facilitate installation comes pre-assembled to save time better still the enclosed design and grate protect irrigation hardware from vandalism to find the right solution sometimes you just have to dig deep new if you want young plants and trees to thrive start `em out right using both near-the-surface and deep root watering encourages roots to grow deep and stay safely below the surface the equation is simple water oxygen vital nutrients healthy root systems developed to meet this challenge the rzws root zone watering system features hunter s patented strata root design it s a series of internal baffles that we get deep to give young shrubs and trees a healthy start strata root system delivers water to roots at all soil depths eliminate wasteful run-off by putting water right where it s needed in the ground at the roots the lowdown patented strata root design innovative internal baffle system distributes water near the surface and down deep to foster roots pre-assembled watering system each unit is ready to go for fast installation premium pressure-compensating bubbler two bubbler options .25 gpm 946 l/min or .50 gpm 1.89 l/min built-in swing joint on bubbler models maximum flexibility and easy installation sturdy removable end cap protects the rzws yet allows bubbler and check valve to be serviced long-lasting pre-installed check valve option valve prevents low-head drainage optional fabric filter sleeve keeps sandy soil out of the irrigation well air flow · reliable hunter bubbler available with.25 gpm 946 l/min or .50 gpm 1.89 l/min flow ·rough plastic mesh allows water,air,and nutrients to bypass dense soil and directly reach root systems · strata root delivers water to all levels of the tree or shrub s root system near the surface and deep down · rugged removable end cap allows easy serviceability of bubblers and check valves 10 0.25m rzws 46 18 0.46m rzws 36 0.9m rzws in sandy soil conditions the optional rzws sleeve keeps the interior free of debris and silt more info in the tech guide 47."


image: Hunter Industries
StrataRoot Systems Delivers Water to Roots at all Soil Depths.

Eliminate wasteful run-off  by putting water right where it's needed, in the ground, at the roots. 

(1) Tough plastic mesh allows water, air and nutrients to bypass tough soils and directly reach root systems,

(2) Rugged removable end caps allow easy serviceability of bubblers and check valves. 

(3) StrataRoot delivers water to all levels of the soil structure horizons of your trees or shrubs. Near the surface and deep down.

(4) These reliable Hunter Bubblers are available at .25 or .50 GPM flow.

Just to interject some teaching points here and help educate why most all trees and shrubs prefer deep water uptake, please look at what the science has discovered. These links below which reveal some of the work done by Prof Todd Dawson of University of California at Berkeley prove that Riparian Woodland Habitats foundational trees while clearly growing next to a rich water environment take most of their water hydration from very deep subsoil regions as opposed to the surface areas rich in a wealth of surface water. Now who in their right mind would ever consider such a puzzling phenomena and furthermore question why ? What is it about deep soil moisture that plants actually prefer in summertime as opposed to having a continual supply within the top layers always present ? Even without knowing the exact details to all these questions, clearly it would still be beneficial to replicate just such a system of deep earth hydration. For me, it appears more of a maintenance issue than a growth issue which would also eliminate Pest problems.     
Important Links Below

Streamside Trees the do not use Stream Water
Deep-rooted plants have much greater impact on climate than experts thought
But that's the science of discovery and how nature really works. Armed with that kind of knowledge and understanding , you should be able to intelligently engineer your own landscape or habitat restoration project replicating brilliantly complex systems found out in the natural world which will greatly relieve much stress and hardships from your future maintenance workload. But you have to properly proceed and follow responsible steps while Trees & Shrubs are at a young early age.  Wait years down the road and you'll pay for your irresponsible and could care less lazy attitude. It's like raising kids. Most modern day parents are not exactly hands on in continual training of their children from infancy through adolescence. A "Problem Child" could have been avoided, but as a result of ignorance or just the plain laziness of looking the other way and hoping things turn out alright, the parents are shackled to an unfortunate circumstance of their own making. True, sometimes specialized help and therapy can make a correction, but more often than not unlikely and the work load of trying to correct things later can be strenuous and back breaking. 
The Hydro Source

Same with plants, start traing early. Correct any problems early on. Prevent problems like girdling. Retail Nursery container planting systems more than likely will force roots to stay on the surface as opposed to driving deep. Careful pruning of the roots to remove the spinning inside container or even loosening of roots and spreading them out in a wider soil excavation will prevent this situation in the scene below where the tree is being strangled by it's own badly trained root system. And don't forget to inoculate with a great mycorrhizal and beneficial bacterial mix before planting.

Most folks will simply dig the hole, amend soil (waste of money) and bury it again and have a casual attitude of  "Just Add Water". Later in life possible severe corrections have to be made to save the life of the tree as you can see in the photo. Notice how an untrained root system, one with problems early on in life was ignored only to have need of emergency care and therapy later on ? But can corrections be made ? Yes they can, but more often than not it may be to late. See the connection with training kids. Yes often time after the corrections and severe measures taken to reverse a situation, there may be permanent scares for which may never heal and quite possibly be an issue or weakness later on in life.  This will always be a weak spot in the foundation of that tree. 

http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu

When storms rage then the larger more mature tree is not strong enough to stand up on it's own against such severe environmental forces. Same with young people. Deep emotional scares may never heal and quite often many go to the point of losing their lives because some parent early on gave no thought to problems they saw but ignored. Think about it folks. Both illustrate the same neglect. Even the above neglected tree pruned to late fits this illustration perfectly as any responsible Arborist will tell you.


I have often said I'm not a fan of larger than 1 gallon trees. Shrubs you can get away with some things. But even with one gallon plants, roots should be inspected and corrections made on the spot at time of planting establishment. Now back to irrigation and watering. Drip systems for the first couple of years are okay. Like children again who need milk as infants and later solid food as they mature, so your irrigation methods should change over to a deep watering method after a couple of years. When a gardener/landscaper keeps plants on a drip system, it's like training them to live on life support in a hospital. Remember the jokes about the child who clings to apron strings even as an adult ? They never experience a fulfilled satisfying life and won't know how to care for themselves if that parental support is cut off. Same with Trees and Shrubs. Abruptly take away drip a decade or so later and your tree may die from improper root development. 


photo - AZPlantLady
Early on in the 1970s, I utilizied plastic milk jugs as a crude means of getting water deep into the soil of my remote planted Torrey Pine Trees by placing the jugs upside down in a small hole or depression in the ground at the trees base. Of course it was crude and simple, but it worked. I could often be seen carrying 6 milk jugs full of water up Rattlesnake Mountain several times a week after school or work. Folks still use similar methods today as seen from the Arizona gardener photo. Later I graduated my method by using a long 2 inch PCV pipe plant deep into the earth not far from the plant's base. Crude but it worked. 


In those photos above what is not illustrated is that most of the water will percolate  in the soil very deeply and vertically downwards as opposed to moving towards the horizontal sides in the soil. This is illustrated better by this animation I've used before when discussing remote site planting of Mesquite Dune creation and building methods. You actually want water that deep down and believe me most roots will follow, depending of course on your soil's geological dynamics. Now in the El Cajon Valley in San Diego county where I grew up, water tables throughout most of that giant valley (and I'm sure adjoining city Santee also) are only 10 foot below the the surface. Armed with this knowledge anyone should be able to tap into that system using these irrigation techniques above and having a measure of success. Once that happens watering should be almost eliminated. Of course you can build your own system from scratch, but the Hunter deep root watering system already has the blueprints for an entire underground network with all the fittings. Again it's up to you the landscaper or home gardener. Hopefully some intelligent understanding of how and what Nature wants & needs have sunk in here.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
REFERENCES:
http://www.hunterindustries.com/sites/default/files/BR_RZWS_dom.pdf
Agroforestry: Deep Pipe Irrigation
More on Deep Pipe Irrigation, by David Bainbridge
This next link is a great reference for understanding root dynamics and problems with soil compaction, aeration, root girdling and avoiding other problems by taking responsible care of them early on to prevent heart ache later in the life of the landscape.
Hurricane Tree Specialists: Soil Aeration (De-Compaction) Radial Trenching Root Collar Excavation