Drip Irrigation Installation in East Africa

Irrigation has become an important part in agriculture not only in East Africa but globally. This can be attributed to the fact that agriculture has become the backbone of the economy in most countries in East Africa. Irrigation has been preferred by most farmers because they can fully depend on it following the changes in climatic conditions in the area over the last few years.

Amid the several types of irrigation systems which are available to farmers, drip irrigation is mostly preferred in East Africa because it is water efficient, it has lower installation costs as compared to other methods, the plants will always be healthier, the installation process is easy and wind interruption is not experienced. Therefore, it is economical for farmers to choose Drip Irrigation System over other systems of irrigation which are available.

Drip Irrigation Installation process

The most economical way to install a drip irrigation system in East Africa is making sure that the water moves by gravitational force. Through gravity, the farmer shall have done away with power charges which might be needed to power the water to the required plants or crops. Therefore, it is important to first know the materials which are needed for a drip irrigation kit. The explanations provided here represent a simple drip irrigation kit for a one-acre farm.

Materials Needed for Drip Irrigation Installation

List of Items for Drip Irrigation System Installation for One-Acre Farmlands

  • Water tank
  • Stand
  • Main line HPDE pipe
  • Drip line (16mm) with emitter spacing based on the crop variety
  • Sub main line of HDPE pipe
  • Filter
  • End cups
  • Rubbers
  • Connecters, starter connectors and takeoff connecters
  • Tees
  • Elbows
  • Valves (mini and ball valves)

Sections of a Drip Irrigation Kit

The three most important sections for a simple drip irrigation include water source, water tank and the drip irrigation materials. Water can be sourced from canals, ditches, shallow wells, river, boreholes and can also be pumped to the tank. The water tank can be of a capacity ranging between 300 to 3000 liters depending on the size of the farm to be irrigated. The tank should have a stand which is either steel, concrete or wooden made and should be raised 3 meters above the ground.

The drip irrigation kit system materials

The following materials and or components makes up a drip irrigation kit important for installation process in East Africa

  • Valves, Filters, Driplines, drip emitters, tubing adaptors, end caps, timer, elbow joints, tank nipple, Tee joints, rubber joints, HDPE pipes, starters, takeoffs, and middle connectors. The other set of materials which is as well important is the hydrant and it is composed of ball valves, Tee joints, elbow joints, bushes, end cups and PVC adaptor.
  • The tank will be used to hold water to allow for gravitational flow to the crops. To create a head difference between the tank and the ground, the stand is used to hold the tank at a height of 3 meters above the ground.
  • The tank nipple helps in connecting the main pipe to the tank to avoid leakage of water during irrigation.
  • The ball valve is used in controlling the flow of water by either turning the water off or on.
  • Filters are installed between the valve and the irrigation line. It helps in preventing materials from flowing to the irrigation line to avoid clogging.
  • Water filters

Drip lines are responsible for transfer of water from the main lines to the plants or crops and they have emitter emitting water to the crops.

Already installed drip lines at a farm in Njoro, Nakuru

  • Tubing adaptor is responsible for the connections from the water tank to the drip lines through the filter.
  • End caps are placed at the end of the water tubes in the main line as well as the drip lines to make sure that the connection is water tight and prevent loss of water through the endings of the tubes and pipes.
  • Hydrant is very useful in connecting the main lines to the drip lines easily within the beds.

An already set Hydrant used in connecting main lines in drip irrigation kit installation

Drip Installation Process Procedure

There are three main steps that are followed in the process of installing a drip irrigation kit in East Africa and the world at large.

The first step of the installation process is connecting the tubing to the water source. Since the tank is our water source in this case, the tubing for the main line is connected to the water source by the help of tank nipple and water valve. The tank nipple will prevent the water from leaking.

The second step in drip installation process is laying down of the drip lines and then connecting the emitters. The drip lines should be connected to the main line of the system based on the layout of the farm. The tubes in the main line should be punched to make holes to easily connect to the drip lines with the use of starters and takeoffs. The rubber should be placed at every hole made to prevent leakage of water.

Thew takeoffs should then be connected to the drip lines which has the emitters. The emitters are positioned such that they are close to the roots of the crops. The end parts of both the main line tubing and the drip lines should be closed with end cups.

The third and the last step is testing the drip irrigation system that has been installed. This is done by turning on the water through the valve to let the water run freely through the system for a few minutes to help in flashing out dirt and other foreign materials. After testing, this is when the end of the tubing and the drip lines should be closed with the end cup.

Cost of One-Acre Drip Irrigation Installation

Drip row/bedType of cropPrice
1 drip row/bedButternut, WatermelonKsh.105,000
2 drip row/bedTomato, potato, Cabbage, Kales, Spinach, Traditional Vegetables, ChiliesKsh.145,000
3 drip row/bedBeans, Spices, Herbs, Onions, Garlic, StrawberryKsh.180,000
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