There are different methods of irrigation a farmer can use depending on the cost, the crops to be grown, the topography of the land, and the availability of water. As discussed in our previous article, farmer Irene decided to use the drip irrigation system for French beans production.
Drip irrigation is favoured because it delivers water directly to the plant's root zone. Fertigation can also be done through drip irrigation making it possible to deliver nutrients to the plants. The efficiency of the system depends on the design, installation, operation and maintenance.
Drip irrigation system saves water as compared to other methods such as surface irrigation, it prevents the growth of weeds since the water is only supplied at the root zone hence does not spread anywhere in the field.
One of the challenges of the system is its high initial cost of installation based on the quality of the materials to be used, location, cost of labour, number of drip lines per bed and the area under installation.
The most common drip irrigation system is the perforated one with emitters spaced at 10 cm, 15cm, 20cm, or 30cm. This is mostly used in vegetable production. The system comes with a tank connector, a drip irrigation filter, HDPE or PVC pipes, and drip irrigation system fittings.
While installing the drip irrigation system, a farmer should consider the source of water, a water pump if needed, and pipe installation mechanism which will be used to move water from the source to the tank or directly to the drip irrigation system.
You may need a storage tank where water will go in first before it reaches the drops. From the tank, the pipes are connected to the mainline then sub-main line. A filter is placed to sieve dirt. To control the pressure of the water, one can consider having a drip irrigation pressure regulator.
Farmer Irene will install drip irrigation for her French beans production on an acre. To start, she has contracted an irrigation technician who has broken down the total costs involved.
The table on the right shows the approximate cost of installing a drip irrigation system on an acre. In our next article, we shall look at the farm layout and drainage system.