Drip, or trickle irrigation, is the system in which water is frequently and slowly applied directly on the crop root zone. The concept of this irrigation system is to irrigate only the root zone instead of the entire field surface, thus making water content of the crop root zone at the optimum level.
In a drip irrigation system, water is applied under the pressure, dripping one drop at a time through the small emitters. Water can also be sprayed as a fine mist over a portion of field’s surface or bubbled onto the soil in small streamlets.
BENEFITS OF DRIP IRRIGATION
Drip irrigation is adaptable to any farmable slope. Normally the crop would be planted along contour lines and the water supply pipes (laterals) would be laid along the contour also. This is done to minimize changes in emitter discharge as a result of land elevation changes in drip irrigation.
Drip irrigation is most suitable for row crops (vegetables, soft fruit), tree and vine crops where one or more emitters can be provided for each plant. Generally only high value crops are considered because of the high capital costs of installing a drip irrigation system.
Drip irrigation is suitable for most soils. On clay soils water must be applied slowly to avoid surface water ponding and runoff. On sandy soils higher emitter discharge rates will be needed to ensure adequate lateral wetting of the soil in drip irrigation.
Our goal at Deejoft is to make farming easier and farmers less dependent on rain whereby they can farm throughout the year using drip irrigation system in Nigeria. Farmers will have the opportunity to use our consultancy service, buy drip irrigation kits from us and install the drip irrigation for them at an affordable price.
WATER SUITABILITY FOR DRIP IRRIGATION
One of the main problems with drip irrigation system in Nigeria is blockage of the emitters. All emitters have very small waterways ranging from 0.2-2.0 mm in diameter and these can become blocked if the water is not clean. Thus it is essential for drip irrigation water to be free of sediments. If this is not so then filtration of the irrigation water will be needed.
Blockage may also occur if the water contains algae, fertilizer deposits and dissolved chemicals which precipitate such as calcium and iron in drip irrigation. Filtration may remove some of the materials but the problem may be complex to solve and requires an experienced engineer or consultation with the equipment dealer to solve the drip irrigation system in Nigeria problem.
Drip irrigation In Nigeria is particularly suitable for water of poor quality (saline water). Dripping water to individual plants also means that the method can be very efficient in water use. For this reason drip irrigation is most suitable when water is scarce.
TYPE OF DRIP IRRIGATION SYSYTEM
According to emitters which control the quantity and rate of water discharge, trickle or drip irrigation systems can be divided into four types:
- Point-source emitters (drip bubbler)
- In-line drip emitter
- Basin bubblers
- Micro spray sprinkler
Although emitters have many common characteristics, they all differ in size and shape, as well as in internal design.
Drip irrigation is one of the most efficient types of irrigation systems. The efficiency of applied and lost water as well as meeting the crop water need ranges from 80 to 90%. What does this mean? Well, its efficiency is the result of only two factors;
- Applying of water drop by drop, the soil soaks it before it evaporates
- Water is applied on the crop root zone (localized) where it is needed most
Sub-surface Drip Irrigation
The drip hose can be placed above ground or buried in the ground, which is called sub-surface drip irrigation. Sub-surface irrigation has the advantage of nearly zero evaporation. However, it can be harder to tell if an emitter becomes plugged or damaged.
Why Use Drip or Trickle Irrigation System?
In providing water to plants according to plant water requirements, drip irrigation systems create no pollution and no runoff and very little evapotranspiration. By using this system, a farmer can certainly ensure good water management. Utilization of a drip irrigation system type provides other benefits to both the farmer and crop production:
- Simple implementation of existing soil sensors
- Management of soil moisture level; crops are irrigated immediately when soil moisture drops below threshold
- Application of fertilizers and pesticides combined with irrigation
- Reduced weed growth and facilitated management of farm activities in the field due to localized soil wetting
- Irrigation can be stopped at any moment (if rain occurs) which prevents overirrigation
- Easy to install, design, and it can be very inexpensive
- Possible to implement on almost any terrain, soil, and crop type; especially suitable for high-value row crops
Drip irrigation system is a great solution on crop productions with dry, saline, low drainage soils and on soils where moisture maintenance may result in high insect pests and disease incidence.
Limitations in Using Drip Irrigation System
Despite many benefits, drip system has also limitation factors for successful implementation on crop production:
- Clogging of emitters due to small outlets, caused by soil particles, chemicals, fertilizers or organic materials
- Damage on plastic pipe caused by rodents
- Uniformity of water distribution due to elevation differences on unleveled field
- Potential salt accumulation in crop root zone between two irrigation cycles
- Plants are more susceptible to stress if drip irrigation system fails
Drip Irrigation = Smart Irrigation
Drip irrigation is the most efficient and appropriate irrigation system. Instead of wetting the whole field surface, water is applied only to the plant root zone. The primary goal of drip irrigation is to apply water at the time when plants need it most and in rates needed for proper plant growth. Moreover, it provides a very favorable moisture level in the soil in which plants can flourish.
Although a drip irrigation system is the best solution for smart irrigation, its implementation is not that simple and can take time. To ensure good water management and maintenance, a farmer needs to first understand crop needs and field properties.
WHAT DRIP IRRIGATION SYSTEM CAN DO?
FERTIGATION: Apart from the fact that a drip irrigation can be used to supply water to your crops. Drip irrigation system can also be used to pass soluble fertilizers like NPK, Mono Potassium Phoshate, Calcium Nitrate, Potassium Nitrate, Humates like humic acid and fluvic acid and other fertilizers can be mixed in water and sent to your crops through drip irrigation system.
CHEMIGATION: Chemigation in is an inclusive term in drip irrigation referring to the application of a chemical into or through an irrigation system. It includes the application of fertilizers, acids, chlorine and pesticides.
Chemigation in drip irrigation facilitates the uniform distribution and precision placement of fertilizers and other chemicals.
In most cases, materials can be applied regardless of weather or field conditions in drip irrigation system.
REDUCED APPLICATION COSTS
In general, cost of application by chemigation is about one-third the cost of conventional application methods in drip irrigation.
Timely applications of small but precise amounts of fertilizer directly to the root zone allow growers to effectively manage fertilizer programs in drip irrigation. This conserves fertilizer, saves money and optimizes yield and quality for good drip irrigation system..
REDUCED SOIL COMPACTION
Chemigation reduces tractor and equipment traffic in fields. This reduces soil compaction in drip irrigation.
REDUCED EXPOSURE TO CHEMICALS
Chemigation in drip irrigation minimizes operator handling, mixing and dispensing of potentially hazardous materials. Also, people and non-target crops are not exposed to inadvertent chemical drifts in drip irrigation system.
REDUCED ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION
When used with the recommended safety devices, properly-designed and accurately-calibrated chemigation systems help preserve quality of the environment in drip irrigation
Chemigation in drip irrigation can save time, reduce labor requirements, and conserve energy and materials. However, chemigation in drip irrigation is beneficial only to the extent that the drip irrigation system is adequately designed, fully functional and properly managed.
In many situations, chemigation in drip irrigation is as good or better than conventional application methods. However, conventional application is still preferred or required for some materials. Never inject any material that is not labeled and recommended for the crop and for injection through the system in drip irrigation. Always follow label directives.
CROP DRIP IRRIGATION CAN WORK FOR
Crops suitable for drip irrigation are given below;
Orchards plants suitable for drip irrigation are : Grapes, Banana, Pomegranate, Orange, Citrus, Mango, Lemon, Custard Apple, Sapota, Guava, Pineapple, Cashew nut, Papaya, Litchi, and Watermelon, etc.
Some vegetable vegetation appropriate for the drip irrigation device are Tomato, Chilly, Capsicum, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Onion, Okra, Brinjal, Bitter Gourd, Ridge Gourd, Cucumber, Peas, Spinach, and Pumpkin, and so forth.
Some of the money plants suitable for the drip irrigation machine are Sugarcane, Cotton. Areca nut and Strawberry and many others.
Some of the flower crops suitable for the drip irrigation gadget are Rose, Carnation, Gerbera, Anthurium, Orchids, Jasmine, Dahilia, and Marigold, and so forth.
Some of the plantation vegetation appropriate for the drip irrigation system are Rubber, Coffee, Coconut, and so on
Some of the spices crops appropriate for drip irrigation gadget are Turmeric, Cloves, Mint, and so forth,
Some of the oilseeds appropriate for drip irrigation systems are Sunflower, Oil palm, Groundnut, and so on.
Some of the wooded area vegetation appropriate for drip irrigation methods are Teakwood, Bamboo, and so on.