Irrigation is the artificial application of water to plants. Irrigation makes it possible to apply water to crops when there is no rainfall or other natural sources of water to crops.
A typical irrigation system consists of a pumping station, main pipes, sub-mains, water distribution system and a drainage system.
The pumping station houses the pump used to move water from the source of water to the main pipes and the water distribution system of the irrigation system.
The main pipes are used in conveying water from the source of water to the field for irrigating the crops.
The sub-mains can be pipes and hoses used also for the distribution of water to the field. The drainage system drains water from the whole irrigation system.
There are strategies that can be used when buying irrigation systems. An irrigation buying guide should show all what a farmer needs to take into consideration before buying any irrigation system. Luckily, this article explains a thorough way to make buying decisions when it comes to irrigation systems.
Types of Irrigation System
The following are the commonest types of irrigation systems in Nigeria:
Drip Irrigation System: Drip irrigation is the artificial application of water to the root zone of plants through hoses with emitters. The emitters emit water to the root zone of plants in a trickle manner.
Drip irrigation is water, cost and labour efficient. A drip irrigation system can use 40-70% less water than sprinkle and flood irrigation systems.
A drip irrigation system typically consists of the main pipe, sub-mains, drip irrigation laterals, connectors, end plugs, venture injector or dosing pump, valves, air release valve and joiners etc.
Rain Gun Sprinkler System: This is a type of irrigation system that uses rain guns attached to hoses, pumps and tripod stands. Rain guns are sprinklers that spray water to the plants.
Some rain guns can throw water to distances as far as 200 metres. A typical rain gun system contains a rain gun sprinkler, hoses, tripod stand, water pump and a water reservoir.
Rain guns consume a lot of water unlike the drip irrigation system.
Pivot Irrigation System (Center Pivot): Center pivot irrigation is also called a water wheel; it uses a motor mechanism to move a set of big sprinklers around the farm for the purpose of irrigating the crops.
The pivot irrigation equipment moves in a circular manner on the farm. It can be used for irrigating very large expanse of farmland. It is not uncommon for thousands of hectares of farmland to be irrigated by center pivots.
In Nigeria, a lot of pivot irrigation systems are located beside big water bodies like dam; a typical example is the center pivot irrigation system beside the Gurara Water Scheme in Kaduna State.
Flood Irrigation System: This is the commonest irrigation system in Nigeria. It uses and wastes a lot of water and not efficient at all. It can also encourage diseases at the root zones of your crops.
Flood irrigation is also called furrow irrigation. Flood irrigation is used when farmers pump water into the furrows between ridges. The water can stay in the furrow for several days, thereby making the plants on the ridges have access to water.
A flood irrigation system uses petrol or diesel water pump and hoses. Sometimes, siphon hoses are used.
In furrow irrigation, for the water to go around the furrows, there should be some leveling of the farmland.
Drip Irrigation System Buying Guide
The following are the guides you should use when buying a drip irrigation kit in Nigeria:
You should buy your drip irrigation systems or kits from those who are highly skilled in irrigation, agronomy or water engineering. Do not buy from road side traders. An irrigation dealer who is skilled in irrigation issues is likely to advise you on the best type of drip irrigation system to buy. You are also likely to buy drip irrigation kits that will last long. Do not buy a drip irrigation system by those who know nothing about irrigation. Ask key questions before buying.
Do not forsake quality when buying your drip irrigation system. A good guide for buying quality drip irrigation systems in Nigeria is to patronize trusted dealers. When a drip irrigation system appears too cheap, you should be very careful; you may be buying a low quality irrigation system.
A good irrigation system buying guide in Nigeria is to avoid ridiculously cheap drip irrigation system. Do not be attracted by very low prices, you may be buying a poor quality drip irrigation system which will get bad within a short time.
You should also check if the drip irrigation system is ultra-violet rays resistant. A drip tape that is not UV resistant will get damaged by the sun within a short time. You must buy from a reliably seller, do not believe what is written on the pack of the irrigation system.
The thickness of the drip irrigation tapes should also be considered. Some 0.2mm thick drip tapes are better than 0.3mm drip tapes. I have seen drip tapes that are 0.5mm thick that got brittle and bad within 3 months. I have also seen 0.20mm thick drip tapes that have used over 5 years on a farmland. Do not let anyone deceive you using fake drip thickness data.
You should also pay attention to drip irrigation parameters like water emission rate, pressure compensating capability and emitter spacing.
Rain Gun Irrigation System Guide
The following guides can be used when buying rain gun irrigation system in Nigeria:
Buy from accredited dealers or dealers who have the technical know-how of how irrigation system works.
Avoid buying super cheap rain gun sprinklers. In Nigeria, most ridiculously cheap rain guns are of poor quality.
Check the parameters of the rain gun sprinklers to be sure it will work for your farm and crops.
Center Pivot Irrigation System Guide
The following guides can be used when buying centre pivot irrigation system in Nigeria:
Pivot irrigation systems are sophisticated types of irrigation systems. You should ensure you patronize a well-known dealer. Never buy from those who know nothing about irrigation.
Check if you have a way to provide power on your farm. Most center pivots use electric motors for the wheels of the pivot irrigation equipment.
Check if your source of water has enough water. A center pivot uses a lot of water. A dam is always better as a source of water.
Do you want to buy an irrigation system? If yes, you should use the information in this irrigation system buying guide as your strategy for taking an irrigation purchase decision.