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A new irrigation technology for farmers

Photo credit: IWMI

Guadenew Zerihun, consultant explaining the operation of device in Koga

A new irrigation technology is helping Ethiopian farmers assess crop water requirements

Water consumption for wheat and potato was reduced on average by 36% when irrigation was performed using the WFD.

Plants need water. All farmers understand this universal truth. But at what point does watering start to hinder a plant’s growth? The issue is important because it doesn’t just affect the crop in the field; long-term overwatering can also do serious damage to soil fertility.

In water-scarce areas, managing water more wisely could also bring huge benefits: by keeping irrigation to an optimum level, water supplies can be made to last longer during dry periods and costs for labor and pumping are kept at a minimum.

To explore how to help farmers manage watering better, IWMI has introduced a simple irrigation scheduling technology at six sites in various parts of Ethiopia in January this year. These wetting front detectors(WFDs) are basically tubes buried in the soil containing a calibrated float. When the soil water gets a certain level, the float rises, indicating that the desired level of wetness has been attained. Detectors were distributed to sixteen female and sixty seven male farmers to improve irrigation of wheat, vegetables, fodder and fruit trees. Typically local farmers have followed blanket recommendations for irrigating their cropland without considering the soil type, climatic conditions, or growth stage and type of crops.

Read the full article: IWMI

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.