Irrigation is the process through which controlled amount of water can be supplied through artificial means such as pipes, ditches, sprinklers etc. the main objectives of irrigation systems is to help agricultural crop growth, landscape maintenance and reduce the effect of inadequate rainfall. Therefore, the importance of irrigation systems is very high.

However, many farmers in Kenya find a hard time trying to choose an irrigation system that can best serve them. In this article we are going to cover two of the most popular irrigation systems in Kenya that save both water in their own way and are highly efficient.

Sprinkler Irrigation

Sprinkler irrigation is a type of pressurized irrigation that consists of applying water to the soil surface using mechanical and hydraulic devices that simulate natural rainfall.

Sprinkler irrigation is a method by which water is distributed from overhead by high-pressure sprinklers, sprays or guns mounted on risers or moving platforms.

Advantages of Sprinkler Irrigation System

  1. Affordable and easy to set up.
  2. Water measurement is easier than surface irrigation system.
  3. Less interference with cultivation and less land loss.
  4. High and frequent application can be effectively accomplished.
  5. Easy mechanization and automation.

Disadvantages of Sprinkler Irrigation System

  1. High operating cost.
  2. Water will drift when there is a lot of wind.
  3. A stable water supply is needed.
  4. Saline water may cause problem.
  5. Water must be free from sand, debris and large amount of salt.

Drip Irrigation

A drip irrigation system provides water to the plants directly at the root zone. Water drips slowly on the plants roots exactly where it is needed thus saving water. Drip
irrigation system reduces water consumption by 50%.

With drip irrigation, water applications are more frequent which provides a more favourable moisture level for the plants to thrive.

Advantages of Drip Irrigation

  1. Water is used at maximum level.
  2. As water is applied locally and leaching is reduced, fertilizer/nutrient  loss is minimized.
  3. Weeds can not absorb water as no water is available for them.
  4. Yield of crops are maximum.
  5. Fertilizers can be used with high efficiency.
  6. Weed are grown in less number.
  7. Operational cost is low.
  8. Soil erosion is not taken place.
  9. Soil infiltration capacity is increased.
  10. Fertilizers and ground water is not mixed.
  11. Seed germination is improved.
  12. We can use recycled water safely.
  13. It is not necessary to level the fields.
  14. We can irrigate water in irregular shaped lands.
  15. Waste of fertilizers are lessen.
  16. Energy cost is reduced as it is operated in lower pressure than other irrigation methods.

Disadvantages of Drip Irrigation

  1. Expense specially initial cost is high.
  2. The lifetime of the tubes used in drip irrigation can be shortened by the sun causing wastage.
  3. May cause clogging if water is not filtered correctly.
  4. Problems in moisture distribution.
  5. Salinity problem.
  6. Germination problem. (This can be solved however if you flood the beds before sowing).
  7. High skills are required.

The following information will help you make a wise decision which irrigation system is the best for your farm.

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