Drip Planner Chart: a simple irrigation scheduling tool for smallholder drip farmers

H. Boesveld, L.S. Zisengwe, S. Yakami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Drip irrigation is widely recognized as potentially one of the most efficient irrigation methods. However, this efficiency is often not achieved because systems are not always well designed or maintained and many farmers lack the tools to assess the crop water requirements and to monitor the soil moisture conditions in the field. There is a vast amount of literature on irrigation scheduling but little literature takes scientific information the next step by preparing practical guidelines for smallholder farmers. There is a large and widening gap between the state of the art irrigation scheduling tools and current on-farm irrigation practices. Most farmers find current irrigation scheduling tools overwhelming and lack the means and skills to install and operate them. It is suggested that farmers need simple, cheap and more comprehensive support tools to achieve improved irrigation management at the farm level. Wageningen University and Research Centre (WUR) developed the Drip Planner Chart (DPC) to provide smallholder farmers with a simple tool to schedule drip irrigation to the crops’ needs. DPC is a manual disk calculator to calculate daily irrigation requirement. Farmers’ feedback was the basis for developing the DPC. Using DPC over a three-year period in Spain resulted in a 14 % water saving and improved irrigation timing. Trials at smallholder farmer fields in Nepal and Zambia showed DPC advice is more adapted to the changing demands of the crop over the different growth stages and responds to the farmer’s quest for practical drip scheduling advice. This paper presents the Drip Planner Chart and the scientific validation of the accuracy of the DPC. Experiments on farmers’ fields show water saving in Nepal and improved yield in Zambia. In both countries an improved scheduling over the growing seasons was found using DPC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-333
JournalIrrigation and Drainage Systems
Volume25
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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