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< prev - next > Agriculture Irrigation KnO 100018_Micro irrigation (Printable PDF)
Micro irrigation
Drip Irrigation
Practical Action
Drip irrigation uses low-cost plastic pipes laid
on the ground to irrigate vegetables, field crops
and orchards. This technology was developed
in the 1960s for commercial use. Circa 1990
a US firm called Chapin Watermatics developed
a low-cost system called bucket kits, which use
standard plastic buckets and lengths of hose
that could be cut to the appropriate lengths.
Small holes in the hose allow water to drip out
and keep the base of the plant wet without
wasting any water.
Figure 2: Jane Kirambia and Practical Action
farmers project staff examine the drip
irrigation kit. Tharaka Farmers' Project,
Kenya ┬ęPractical Action /Morris Keyonzo
The kits are low-cost, easy to assemble and
manage. They do not need high quality water,
providing the water is filtered. A 20 litre bucket with 30 metres (100 feet) of hose or drip
tape connected to the bottom. The bucket is placed at least 1 metre (3 feet) above the
ground so that gravity provides sufficient water pressure to ensure even watering for the entire
Water is poured into the bucket twice daily and passes through a filter, fills the drip tape and
is evenly distributed to 100 watering points. The multi-chambered plastic drip tape is
engineered to dispense water through openings spaced at 30cm (12 inches).
Two bucket kits costing around $20 will produce enough vegetables for a family of seven and
can last over five years. The system is most suited to kitchen gardens.
As well as the bucket, you will need several strong poles, tools, manure, water and vegetable
seedlings. The poles are used to make a support structure for the bucket. The stand should
hold the bucket about 1 metre above the ground.
The main stages of setting up the systems are:
a hole should be cut carefully into the base of the bucket
the hole is fitted with the filter plug and tubing and then flushed out to ensure that
the system is clean.
the drip lines are then connected and the system is flushed out again before the ends
of the drip lines are closed off.
The whole procedure of setting up the system will only take about one hour, including the
construction of the bucket support.
When planting a seedling is planted at each wet spot so that all the moisture is absorbed
directly by the plant roots.
Moving the kit from plot to plot tends not to be very practical and damages the equipment. It
is better to add extra buckets and lines when necessary or when funds are available to invest
in additional equipment.
The advantages are:
the effort to water the plants is greatly reduced
the time taken to fill the containers is significantly less than manually watering the
planted area.
the growth of weeds is reduced as water does not reach unwanted plants.