Drip irrigation has been said to be the most efficient type of irrigation for almost all types of crops. Drip irrigation is known to be widely used for crops that are not tightly spaced. However, in the past few years, drip irrigation systems have been used for tightly spaced crops like rice with huge success.
Rice farming can be very lucrative if done in the right way. Most rice farmers who record low yield agree that non-availability of water or irrigation contributed to their failure in rice farming.
Using flood irrigation and sprinkler irrigation systems for rice farming can be expensive. Besides, the volume of water needed for these irrigation systems is huge and can be unsustainable.
How drip irrigation can be used for rice farming
To use drip irrigation or trickle irrigation for rice farming, the following has to be provided:
- A source of water
- Drip tapes
- Sub main pipes or hoses
- Water Pump
- End Plugs
- Venturi Injector
- Punch tools
- Filters etc
Source of water
For drip irrigation to be used for rice farming, there should be a source of water. The source of water can be a well, borehole, river, dam and stream etc.
The source of water should be abundant volume of water.
Drip tapes are set of polythene tubes or pipes with emitters placed on them at equal intervals. The drip tapes are laid beside the rows of crops.
The drip tapes have emitters that drip or emit water to the base or roots of plants. Drip tapes with 10 -20cm emitter spacing are usually used for rice farming.
The drip tapes used for rice farming usually have a diameter of 16mm. They also come in different thicknesses.
Submain Pipes or Hoses
The sub main pipe or hose is the hose that runs across the farmland. The drip laterals connect directly to the sub main hose.
The main line also connects to the sub main as the main line is the main water feeder for the sub main hose or pipes.
This is a component of a typical drip irrigation system.
For large rice farms, the use of diesel water pumps connected to a water reservoir is advised. The large water pumps have higher water flow and pressure that will make the water reach the end points of the drip tapes.
Poor water flow and pressure will not allow the drip irrigation system to work well.
For rice farmers using boreholes as their source of water, submersible pumps can be used.
The connectors are used for the connection of the drip tapes or lateral to the sub main hose or pipe. Without the connectors, the drip laterals will not be able to get water flow from the sub main hose or pipes.
The end plugs or caps are used to close the end of the drip tapes.
The venturi injector is used for injecting soluble fertilizers and chemicals into the water flowing in the drip irrigation system through a process called fertigation and Chemigation.
To use drip irrigation system for rice farming, the drip tapes have to be laid beside the rows of the rice crop.
The drip tapes should have an emitter spacing of 20cm or 10cm.
Drip irrigation can increase the yield of rice crop by over 100%.