Innovating Agribusiness Solutions for a better World

Drip Irrigation For Increased Vegetable Production

In most places in Africa, irrigation is a necessity of farming. Crops require irrigation even if the rainfall is okay most times of the year. Irrigation is even on high demand especially in semi arid areas. Water is literally life.

Plants use water to form oxygen and carbohydrates. If a plant does not get enough water, it will have a lower immunity to pests and disease, yield will decrease, and if the water stress is great enough, the plant will die.

Though irrigation is often necessary, poor irrigation can cause a multitude of environmental complications, such as depleting or degrading surface water, groundwater, or soils. An inefficient irrigation system can also cause undue stress on plants from overwatering. Other than wasting water and money, overwatering can drown crop root systems, leach nutrients, reduce root growth, cause water-logging and salt buildup in the root zone, and reduce quality and yield of the crop.

So, what’s the most efficient irrigation system or method?

Farmers in Kenya have come to identify one type of irrigation system that has saved them costs and increased their vegetable production highly. This has been realized through Drip Irrigation.

Drip irrigation by definition, is an irrigation method that saves water and fertilizer by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either onto the soil surface or directly onto the root zone, through a network of valves, pipes, tubing, and emitters. It is done
through narrow tubes that deliver water directly to the base of the plant”.

drip_irrigation_design

Drip or trickle irrigation is well acknowledged for its efficient method of applying water and nutrients to crops. For many crops, the conversion from sprinkler to drip irrigation can reduce water use by 50
percent.

Here are just some of the advantages and disadvantages you can expect from a drip irrigation system;

Benefits of drip irrigation

–  Yield of crops are maximum.

–  Water is used to its maximum level by the plant. Weeds cannot therefore absorb water as no water is available for them (Weeds are grown in less number).

–  As water is applied locally and leaching is reduced, fertilizer or nutrient loss is minimized.

–  Fertilizers can be used with high efficiency.

–  Operational cost is low.

–  Soil infiltration capacity is increased.

–  Fertilizers and ground water is not mixed.

–  Seed germination is improved.

–  Wastes of fertilizers are lessened.

Limitations of drip irrigation

–  The initial investment capital per acre may be higher than those of other irrigation systems e.g. Sprinkler

–  Management requirements of drip irrigation systems are somewhat higher because of its sensitive layout.

–  Rodent, human and insect damage to drip lines are potential sources of leaks.

–  A water filtration system is necessary to prevent your drip lines from.

* Agrolution via www.graduatefarmer.co.ke

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