Drip irrigation for maize farming is becoming common in Nigeria. This is due to the yield increasing capability of drip irrigation systems.
Most maize farmers in Nigeria still depend on rain fed agriculture and flood irrigation. A few of these maize farmers have tried the use of drip irrigation and most of them have recorded a yield increase of 100 – 200%.
Drip irrigation is a type of irrigation that passes water to the root zones of plants. It is the most efficient type of irrigation. Drip irrigation systems have a set of hoses and pipes with emitters placed on them. The emitters emit water to the roots of plants.
How to use drip irrigation for maize farming
To use drip irrigation for maize farming, the following has to be done:
Prepare your farmland
Your maize farm needs to be cleared of weeds, stumps and trees. You also need to plough, harrow and ridge your farmland before you can lay the drip irrigation hoses.
Source of water
A drip irrigation system for maize crop needs a source of water. A borehole, river, well or dam can be used. The water must be filtered; else, the drip emitters can be blocked.
For large maize farms, gravity drip irrigation system cannot be used. You will need to have power or electricity to power your water pump. A power generator, solar power or grid power can be used as a source of electricity.
Install the drip irrigation system
You need to get a qualified technician or engineer to install the drip irrigation system. The drip irrigation tapes or pipes should be laid on the rows or beds. The drip irrigation system should be tested after installation.
Training of staff
The agronomist or irrigation engineer should train the staff of the maize farm on how the drip irrigation system should be used. Fertigation and Chemigation techniques should also be taught.
Sowing of seeds
The maize seeds should be sowed at the side of each emitter. The emitter will create a circular wetting pattern. Each seed should be sowed within this circular wetting pattern.
Advantages of using drip irrigation for maize farming
Drip irrigation can increase the yield of maize crop by as much as 200%.
With drip irrigation, the labour cost needed for the application of fertilizer to maize plants can be reduced. Fertigation ensures that soluble fertilizer is passed to the root zones of plants.
Less volume of water is needed for the maize plants if drip irrigation system is used.
With drip irrigation, the chances of the maize plants getting fungal diseases are reduced because water is not sprayed to the foliage of the maize plants.
How drip irrigation increases the yield of a maize farmer by 100%
Oladele (not real name) has been growing maize in Oyo State, Nigeria for over 15 years. The highest yield he recorded before he used a drip irrigation system was 3.5 tons per hectare.
Oladele was told about drip irrigation but he was reluctant to try it. After 2 years of knowing what a drip irrigation system was, he installed one on his one hectare maize farm.
Oladele used drip irrigation and fertigated his maize plants. He got a yield of 7 tons per hectare of maize after his trial of using a drip irrigation system.
Oladele has now installed a drip irrigation system on his whole maize acreage.
Do you use drip irrigation for your maize crop? If yes, why not tell us your experiences on the comments’ section.
Read our latest article on drip irrigation for pepper farming here.