Irrigation in Kenya has a long history spanning more than 400 years. Farmers all around the globe are quickly adopting irrigated agriculture as a guard against uncertainties such as the amount and distribution of rain.It is estimated that irrigation can increase agricultural productivity four fold and, depending on crops, incomes can be multiplied 10 times.
Many scientific reports have indicated that the world is growing drier with time. While the exact rate of global warming has been highly contested by scientists, many tend to agree with this reality. Africa will be particularly worse hit. Farmers therefore need to realize it is no longer business as usual. Rain-fed agriculture is becoming increasingly unreliable especially in the drier areas where the issue is more about getting any water, than it is about managing the water resources. Farmers all around the globe are quickly adopting irrigated agriculture as a guard against uncertainties such as the amount and distribution of rain.
How efficient is your irrigation system?
Not all irrigation methods are as effective though. Some methods require such a high amount of water that they are simply inapt for many farmers.Drip irrigation is a method of watering plants with single drops of water at a time. The set up consists of tapes with very small outlets that let out water one drop at a time wetting the soil around the plants roots. The technology was developed in the USA and Israel for growing crops in dry climates where water is limited.
The technology is efficient in use of water – no water is wasted as runoff or lost by moving down through the soil too quickly for the roots to absorb it. The technology has been further simplified and requires low water pressure to operate. The tapes are very flexible and can be modified to suit different lengths of rows or plot sizes.
Advantages of Drip irrigation over Convectional Methods
- The technology delivers water directly to the roots of the crop in small regular drops. This reduces the amount of water wastage
- It is imperative in preventing spread of fungal diseases such as powdery mildew.
- It prevents the nutrient runoff which is common in other methods of irrigation where the soil is flooded with water.
- Reduction of labour costs
- It is a more effective method of fertilizer application on the plants, where liquid fertilizer is mixed with water and spread straight to the plants.
Disadvantages of Drip Irrigation
Clogging: Since water is released through tiny pores on the plastic ducts, it is important for you to constantly check the quality of water to ensure it does not contain suspended particles such as silt.
Damage: Drip irrigation kits are mainly comprised of thin plastic tubes that carry water across the field. There is therefore the risk of the pipes getting damaged while in the field. Therefore, extra care should be taken when carrying out normal practices such as weeding or furrowing to prevent any damage on the irrigation lines.
Using drip irrigation is a safe, easy and effective way to water your plants.