Notes to broadcasters
Farmers and gardeners have developed different kinds of irrigation systems to address their different needs. This script discusses two irrigation techniques that are useful for farmers in dry areas – pitcher irrigation and drip irrigation. Both these methods help farmers to increase yields and decrease water requirements. They save water because they reduce evaporation and supply water only to the root zone where it is needed.
Although the drip irrigation method costs money initially to buy the equipment, the result in increased yields will eventually offset this expense. It is possible that there are organizations that distribute the kits to small-holder farmers free of charge or at subsidized prices. One such organization is Chapin Living Waters Foundation, an American charitable foundation that has provided low cost kits to communities in 130 countries world wide – mostly in Africa (see Sources at the end of the script).
Before broadcasting this script, you might want to do additional research to answer the following questions. Include what you find out in your program.
- Are drip irrigation kits available locally? If so, how would a farmer go about obtaining one?
- What is the approximate cost of a drip irrigation kit?
- Are there local organizations that provide training in how to set up and use the kits?
- Are there other organizations that distribute the kits at no cost or at subsidized prices?
- Local farmers who already have drip irrigation systems in place are another valuable source or information for your program.
How do they do this? These systems deliver water underground – directly to the roots of the plant. There is no water wasted through evaporation or run off.
Let’s talk first about pitcher irrigation. You may have heard this called clay pot irrigation. It’s really very simple. Farmers bury clay plots in the soil, next to vegetable seedlings.
When they fill the pots with water, the water seeps slowly through the walls of the pot, and into the soil, providing water to the roots of the vegetables – exactly where it is needed.
You can see how this can save water. The water only moves underground from the pot to the area around the plant roots, so there is no evaporation.
Remember that it’s important to cover the top of the pot to stop the water from evaporating and to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.MUSICAL BREAK (5 seconds).
Although drip irrigation costs money to buy the equipment and may require some special training, it is another technique that can increase yields and decrease your water needs at the same time.
A drip irrigation system uses special watering tapes or hoses that have tiny holes along their length. When the hoses are laid out in the garden, the tiny holes allow water to seep out slowly and evenly over a longer period of time.
If you plan to use drip irrigation, you will need to buy a drip irrigation kit. This kit will include a large bucket to hold the water, connectors, a water filter and a drip tape that you place on the ground near your plants.
The water bucket is put on a platform about one metre above the ground. The drip tapes are then connected to the water bucket. When you fill the bucket, the water moves slowly through the drip tapes and into the soil.
As I said, even though a drip irrigation system costs money, farmers who use this system say that their crop yields increase enough so that it pays for itself in about a year’s time. One woman farmer in Kenya made enough money from the sale of extra fresh vegetables that she was able to buy more hoses and buckets and make her garden bigger after just four months.MUSIC (5 seconds).
– END –
- Researched by Victoria Fenner, Hamilton, Canada.
- Reviewed by Chris Reij, International Cooperation Center, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
- “More crop per drop.” FAO in Action.
- “Sourcebook of Alternative Technologies for Freshwater Augmentation in Africa.” United Nations Environment Programme.
- “Drip irrigation for small scale farmers.” Arid Lands Information Network.
Sources of information about drip irrigation kits
- Chapin Living Waters Foundation
Contact: Richard D. Chapin, Executive Director
364 N. Colorado Avenue, Watertown, NY 13601 USA
Tel: 315-788-0891, Fax: 315-782-1490
- Arid Lands Information Network (Eastern Africa)
Postal Address: PO Box 10098, 00100, Nairobi, Kenya.
Physical Address: Africa Alliance of YMCA Building, 2nd Floor along State House Crecent off State House Avenue, Nairobi, Kenya.
Tel: 2715293, 2719313, 2719413, 2713540, Fax: 2710083