Simple drip irrigation is the method of using readily and locally available drip materials that are affordable at low costs.
Drip irrigation system in kenya is very economical for practicing kitchen gardening or urban agriculture which involves the growth of vegetables in the balconies and verandahs.
Few individuals who prefer beautification of their compounds or verandahs by use of flowers can also use drip irrigation system.
Relating simple drip irrigation to Kenya’s economy, one can use a maximum of ksh 15000 for an average farm of eight meters (8m) by fifteen meters (15m).
When proper conditions for the growth of the chosen crop are met, one can earn at least
ksh40, 000. This amount is quite profitable for side hustling or farming beginner.
Crops grown under simple drip irrigation in Kenya
The majority of plants grown under this sector are vegetables and fruits. These may include sukuma wiki, coriander (dhania), spinach, tomatoes, bulb or sleek onions, berries and many more.
Factors considered in the choosing simple drip irrigation in Kenya
The following are factors that one has to consider before settling into this type of drip irrigation
- Source of water- most drip irrigation systems require generally clean water to avoid the blockages of drip emitters.
- Type of crop to be grown- type of crop or plant dictates the amount of water that is required per season. In case of water shortages, the farmer may opt to top up water.
- Planting medium. Under planting medium, some individuals may prefer cocoa peat, soil, liquid solution or sugar cane bagasse.
This shows that one may choose to go into hydroponics or just use simple soil as the planting medium.
Materials used in simple irrigation.
The following materials are the most considered whenever drip system is designed
- Main water storage- mainly lifted to at least 2 meters high. This storage tanks are normally of capacity of 200 liters to 1000 liters which are normally refilled.
- Tank accessories. These are tank connectors which includes nipples and back nuts.
- Water control valves or ball corks.
- Filters to remove and filter out debris from flowing water.
- Main pipe. Brings water from the tanks to the drip lines.
- Pipe connectors. For the durable and strong connectors, the irrigation experts concluded that polyethylene is the best for irrigation. These connectors may include male and female adaptors, pipe middle connectors, pipe elbows, and pipe end caps.
Why choose polyethylene pipes rather than other pipe types
- Very strong with high tearing resistant.
- Durable because of non corrosive elements used in its manufacturing.
- High chemical resistant.
- Resistant to sun UV rays.
- Cost efficient and economical as compared to other pipe types.
- Easy to maintain.
- Drip emitters- for drip emitters one may choose on button drippers (have capacity of discharging water 1.0 liters per hour to 60.0 liters per hour) or drip line which has water discharge of 0.7 liters per hour to 1.0 liters per hour.
For drip lines connection procedure, one must choose whether the main line is to be beneath the soil or above the soil surface.
For the main line below the soil surface, the requirements are main line pipe (preferable polyethylene pipe), start connectors, risers (polyethylene pipe of 16 millimeters or 12 millimeters), takeoff connectors and the drip tape of chosen spacing.
When one requires connection which is above the soil surface, the risers and the starter connectors will not be included in the connection since the main line and takeoffs connectors will be at the same level
These connectors are relatively cheap with one going at a cost of ksh15 to ksh25 as priced by Eunidrip.
Requirements for drip line connection are:
- Land preparation
Land preparation is a process that involves several activities they include, plowing, breaking of the soil particles in order to add important soil nutrients.
The purpose of these activities is to improve crop/plant growth and development.
Land preparation ensures that there is sufficient water, heat, oxygen, and other important soil nutrients.
This process will allow the soil to be more compressible to allow the penetration of the roots.
When preparing land for drip irrigation raised beds are very important.
Beds refer to raised subdivided seedbed uniformly distributed all over the farm they have paths in between to allow ease movement of the farm operators.
Raised beds also play a major role in drainage and aeration
Obtaining beds for drip irrigation.
In bed preparation, the standard and most recommended bed sizes range from one meter (1m). Sometimes 1.5 meters are used for perennial crops like Stevie and other herbs.
The most convenient path width should be between 40cm to 50cm.
This will ensure major parts of the land are put under cultivation.
After the selection of the convenient bed width and the paths, the beds are dug to a depth of between 12cm to 30cm.
While doing this breakdown soil clod (big soil particles brought about during plowing) into fine particles.
Remove weeds, mix manure into the soil and expose microorganisms the soil to the sunlight to be killed.
The plowing should be done along with the land/garden during the first plowing and across during the second plowing.
This will ensure microorganisms and weed seeds are brought above the soil and exposed to the sunlight.
On exposing these It ensures faster growth of weed seeds due to warmth. After germination of the weed seeds due to favorable conditions brought by sunlight, use the recommended herbicides to kill the weed. Get recommendations from a qualified agronomist.
Do final plowing to bury the dead plants into the soil.
The weed will later decompose/rot to add nutrients to the soil. The beds should then be leveled into a uniform height and tilth to ensure uniform germination of seedlings. After all these practices prepare and organize for the drip installation process.
- Labour requirement
This includes skilled and non skilled labor source. This will ensures the technical and the manual labor are provided.
Technical skills include interpretation of the designed farm layout, main line manipulation .i.e. measuring the drip line to drip line distance along the main line and provision of any technical assistance.
The sole responsibilities of non skilled personnel is to provide manual in constructing beds, channeling of main lines and sub main lines also provision of technical support.