One must have a reliable water source before choosing an irrigation system.
Having a reliable water source contributes to the sustainability and success of any agricultural project.
Below are the irrigation systems that one can install on their farms:
This is the most effective way to irrigate crops, ranging from the big plantation crops to vegetables. This is because water is dropped directly at the point it is needed, thus minimising wastage. It is also the ideal system in clay soils because the water is applied slowly, hence avoiding runoff.
This is a low-pressure, low-flow rate type of irrigation system that can reduce the likelihood of over-watering a landscape. This form of irrigation delivers water directly to where it is needed most — the root zone of plants. This system is suitable for crops such as strawberries that do not need water-logged soils.
Surface or flood irrigation
This is one of the most common systems in Uganda. It requires more water than what is needed by the plant. Some of the water evaporates, while the rest seeps into the ground to the water table, which is beyond the reach of plant roots.
This system uses the force of gravity to distribute water over the field of contours. In surface irrigation, water will flow downhill from an area of higher elevation reaching all the crops.
Water is applied in a manner similar to rainfall. The water is distributed through a network that may consist of pumps, valves, pipes and sprinklers.
Water pump types
There are different types of pumps that can be used to pump water from the sources to the field.
To get the best pump, one must consider the budget, farm size, plus the water and power sources.
Pumps commonly used for irrigation fall into two broad categories — displacement pump and centrifugal pump.
Within those categories, there are sub-categories. The commonly used are displacement, centrifugal, end-suction centrifugal, submersible, turbine, jet, booster and floating pumps.
Farmers should consider the source of power before buying a pump.
Water pumps are powered by electricity, petrol, diesel and solar energy. Others are manual — water is pumped using feet or hands.
Small scale farmers should consider using solar or manual pumps because they are cheap and have a one-time installation expenditure.