19 Apr Drip Irrigation in Kenya for Saline Soils
Drip irrigation systems in Kenya installed by Grekkon Limited have increased yield with less water. This explains drip irrigation’s growing popularity particularly in the arid regions of the country. Under saline conditions, it has additional advantage over furrow and sprinkler irrigation systems in Kenya. First, drip irrigation causes no foliar accumulation of salts during irrigation. Second, soil in the wetted area around emitters is leached most of salts. This is where root density is the highest, particularly for row crops. Third, high frequency drip irrigation can maintain a relatively constant soil water content and soil salinity level over time near the drip lines.
One disadvantage of this irrigation is that soil accumulates near the periphery of the wetted area. This salt accumulation is a problem if the emitter placement is poor. It will be seen in crops that are highly sensitive to soil salinity such as carrot, pepper, onion, strawberry, and lettuce, and in moderately sensitive crops such as broccoli, and cabbage.
Drip Irrigation Salinity Management
These irrigation systems installed by Grekkon Limited in Kenya have been successful on the saline soils. This is in the areas of Kitengela, Kiserian and Isinya in Kajiado county. To control salinity, Grekkon Limited advises its drip irrigation farmers to leach the salts from the root zone. Apply irrigation water in excess of the crop water requirement to achieve this. Conduct this localised leaching throughout the growing season. Irrigation frequencies of three to four times a week are ok.
Moderately sensitive crops grown under drip irrigation are tomato and garlic. Daily irrigations have been necessary for salt- sensitive plants. This way, the farmer maintains soil salinity at levels within the threshold of that particular crop. But in often times, it reduces salinity within the crop root zone.
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