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Drip Irrigation – Surefire way to make N20 million from farming in Nigeria

Drip irrigation is a trickle form of irrigation that drips water to the root zone of plants. The dripped water goes slowly to the roots of the plants where the water can be effectively and efficiently used by the plants.

A typical drip irrigation system uses a set of pipes, tubes, hoses, connectors, emitters, valves and sometimes fertilisers injectors to pass water to the roots of plants. Drip irrigation is known to be the most efficient type of irrigation when it comes to water saving, labour needs savings and weed control.

For any drip irrigation system to work effectively, it must be connected to a source of water. The source of water can be a borehole, water well, river, dam, stream or any water reservoir etc.

Drip irrigation can also be called trickle irrigation because it irrigates crops in a trickle manner. The water drips in trickles to the roots of plants. Drip irrigation systems can be installed on the surface of the soil; they can also be installed under the soil (subsurface irrigation).

Drip irrigation encourages all year round farming especially in areas where rainfall is seasonal. Take Nigeria as an instance, rain falls between the months of April to October; most famers cultivate their crops during this season. With drip irrigation, farmers can farm during the dry season when there are no rains.

drip irrigation in nigeria

Drip Irrigation in Nigeria

Drip irrigation in Nigeria is a fairly new concept. About 80% of farmers in Nigeria are rain fed farmers, that is, they wait for the seasonal rains before they go to farm to cultivate their crops. The few farmers that practice irrigation farming in Nigeria rely on flood irrigation with its attendant disadvantages.

Some farmers have now tried drip irrigation in Nigeria and seen the advantages, some have recorded over 200% in their yield, thanks to the fertigation and all year round water supply attributes of drip irrigation.

Drip irrigation is mostly used to cultivate vegetables in Nigeria. It is now fairly common to see urban farmers cultivating their peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes etc. with the aid of drip irrigation kits.

Few large scale tree crop farmers also use drip irrigation for the cultivation of their cocoa, oil palm, plantain, cashew, mango and coconut etc.

Farmers using drip irrigation in Nigeria can be found in almost all states namely, Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ibadan, Gombe, Plateau, Edo, Imo, Anambra, Ekiti, Ogun, Enugu, Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto, Kebbi, Borno and Rivers etc.

You can contact Veggie Grow through 08025141924 or sales@veggiegrow.ng for drip irrigation systems, greenhouses and other farm technologies.

Drip Irrigation for Tomato Farming in Nigeria

Tomato farming can be very profitable if done the right way. To make good money from tomato farming, drip irrigation is a must. The prices of tomatoes skyrocket between May-August every year, to make money during this period, a farmer has to plant his tomato during the dry season, so he needs to use drip irrigation.

Drip irrigation also allows the farmer to increase his plant density, he can apply fertilisers to his tomato plants intermittently and also irrigate the plants consistently, this can result to a significant higher yield than tomato farmers who solely rely on rainfall.

At Veggie Grow, we have had instances of tomato farmers that increased their yield by over 400% because they converted their tomato farms to drip irrigation.

Drip Irrigation for Cucumber Farming in Nigeria

Cucumber farming is called farmer’s ATM because of its ability to turn a farmer to a millionaire within 45-70 days. Cucumber plants yield a lot if cultivated under drip irrigation.

Cucumbers love water; hence the use of drip irrigation for cucumber cultivation can yield to a very high yield unlike rain fed cultivation. Drip irrigation will also enable all year round farming of cucumbers so that the farmer can have fruits to sell all year round.

In the conventional rain fed cucumber farming, farmers can only plant about 4,000 plants of cucumbers on one acre, using drip irrigation; a farmer can plant between 10,000 – 15,000 cucumber plants on one acre.

We have seen farmers that made N20 million from their farms with the aid of drip irrigation systems. A lot of farmers make millions through the use of drip irrigation. Drip irrigation can be used to cultivate all types of vegetables and crops.

drip irrigation for cucumber farming

Drip Irrigation for High Density Tree Crop or Cash Crop Farming

Drip Irrigation can be used for high density tree crop farming which can result to high yield and profitability for farmers.

Take for instance, using rain fed method, about 60 cashew seedlings or trees can be planted on one acre but using the high density drip irrigation method, 440 cashew trees can be planted on one acre.

High density drip irrigation method can be applied to cocoa, coconut, mango, oranges and a whole lot of cash crops and fruit crops in Nigeria.

Cost of Drip Irrigation

The price of drip irrigation systems in Nigeria varies. A note of warning, never buy drip irrigation because the price seems too cheap. Unscrupulous suppliers will lure you with incredibly cheap prices to buy sub-standard drip irrigation system that will not serve the purpose it is meant for.

A farmer once contacted Veggie Grow to inquire about a standard drip irrigation kit for 10 acres. Veggie Grow told him the cost but he left to buy from a supplier that offered him a ridiculous low price. After 4 months, he returned to Veggie Grow to buy another drip irrigation system. The sub-standard drip irrigation system he bought got blocked within 2 months, it was not pressure compensating and all the emitters were not dripping water. This is a typical case of PENNYWISE, POUND FOOLISH.

Depending on the type of crop you cultivate and your planting population, the price of a one acre drip irrigation system in Nigeria can vary from N100,000 – N300,000.

The price of a one acre drip irrigation kit for a vegetable crop like cucumbers can be between N250,000 to N300,000 while the price of a one acre drip irrigation kit for a crop like carrot or onions can be as high as N450,000 because of their close spacing.

Drip Irrigation Suppliers in Nigeria

There are a lot of drip irrigation dealers in Nigeria; however, only very few sell quality and good drip irrigation systems. You will be shocked to know that most of the drip irrigation suppliers in Nigeria do not even know anything about farming or irrigation; they just sell what they know nothing about to unsuspecting farmers, only for the farmers to later know that they have bought sub-standard and inappropriate drip irrigation systems.

Vegie Grow is one of the most popular drip irrigation suppliers in Nigeria. This firm has experts in precision farming and irrigation who have worked extensively in Europe, Asia and Africa. Veggie Grow does not only sell irrigation systems, they also offer free services when a farmer buys his drip irrigation systems from the firm. Some of these free services include:

  • Free Installation
  • Free Soil Analysis
  • Free Water Analysis
  • Free Design of Agronomic Plan
  • Plant Tissue Testing
  • Farm Profit Optimisation Services

You can contact Veggie Grow through 08025141924 or sales@veggiegrow.ng

Components of a Drip Irrigation System

Valves

Valves are key parts of a typical drip irrigation system. A valve is used to turn on or to turn off the supply of water to the drip irrigation pipes or tubes.

There are several types of valves that can be used for a drip irrigation kit. Examples of drip irrigation valves are isolation valves, control valves and internet-enabled valves. Isolation valves can be manually operated to stop the flow of water to the drip irrigation lines.

Control valves are used to stop the flow of water to a segment of the drip irrigation system. They can also be used to start the flow of water to a section of the drip irrigation system.

There are also valves that can be switched on and off with the aid of the internet. This type of valves enables remote control of the drip irrigation system. A farmer can be in another country or on his bed and switch on and off his drip irrigation system.

Backflow Preventer

This is also called backflow valve. The backflow preventer prevents the backflow of water to the source of water. With backflow preventer, dirt, chemicals, fertilisers and other impurities can be prevented from flowing back to the source of water.

Backflow preventer can prevent unintentional poisoning of the source of water of a farm.

Pressure Regulators

In drip irrigation system, the pressure regulator is used to reduce the water pressure. It is also used to maintain water pressure throughout the drip irrigation flow lines. A pressure regulator can also be called a pressure reducing valve. It does not completely shut the flow of water, it just reduces water pressure. Too high water pressure can damage some drip irrigation tapes or tubes, hence the need for pressure reducing valves or pressure regulators.

A lot of the drip irrigation systems marketed are built to work with low pressure. The flexible drip irrigation tapes used for vegetables in Nigeria work with pressure not exceeding 1 bar, in the case of water pressure exceeding 1 bar, a pressure reducing valve must be used.

There are mainly two types of pressure regulators namely the adjustable pressure regulators and the non-adjustable pressure regulators.  The adjustable pressure regulators allow for a farmer to pre-set the  water pressure he wants for his drip irrigation system while the non-adjustable pressure regulator has only a fixed water pressure level a farmer can use for his drip irrigation system.

Pressure regulators can be made from plastic or brass, the plastic type is the commonest type of pressure regulator used for drip irrigation system.

drip irrigation valve

Filter

A filter is important in drip irrigation systems. What is a filter? A filter is simply a device that stops the intrusion of dirts and impurities into the water flow in the drip irrigation system. Due to the nature of drip emitters, they get blocked easily, so you need to use a filter to prevent anything that can block the drip emitters.

Drip emitters are the main devices that enable the drip irrigation system to emit water to the roots of plants, once they are blocked; the whole drip irrigation system becomes useless. Drip irrigation filters have mesh that stops the passage of impurities and dirts into the drip irrigation lines.

Filters come in different mesh sizes. In Nigeria, filters of mesh size of 150 are better as they can stop a lot of impurities.

If you can spend money on your drip irrigation system, it is advisable you also get a good filter.

Emitters

Emitters are the water dropping devices installed or attached on drip tapes or drip irrigation pipes. The emitters drip water to the base or roots of plants. The emitters are also used to drop fertilizer solutions to the roots of plants.

Drip emitters on drip tapes often emit 1-4 litres of water per hour. Some adjustable emitters used on drip tubes can emit up to 70 litres of water per hour. Some drip emitters are pre-installed on drip tapes while some are sold separately and installed on drip tubes by farmers at the chosen distance.

Mainline

The mainline is the main pipe that comes from the source of water to where the control valves are. The mainline can come in the form of PVC pipes or galvanized pipes.

Most drip irrigation systems for farmers with small acreages use PVC pipes as mainlines. PVC pipes do not last long as they are not UV resistant, they can be easily damaged by sunlight. For drip irrigation on large acreages, high capacity galvanized pipes can be used. HDPE pipes can also be used as mainlines. The burst pressure of mainlines are much more than the burst pressure of the drip tapes or pipes.

Veggie Grow sells some of the most durable mainlines in Nigeria, their mainlines can last for over 10 years, they cannot be damaged by sunlight.

Lateral and/or Sub-Main

The lateral is the pipe between the drip tapes and the control valves. Layflat hoses are often used as the lateral in drip irrigation system. The laterals are also called sub-mains by some people. Layflat hoses, re-inforced lay flat hoses, PVC pipes, HDPE pipes and galvanized pipes etc. can be used as laterals or sub mains in drip irrigation system.

The pipes that the drip tapes or tubes connect to are called the laterals or sub mains.

Drip Tapes or Hose or Tubings

Drip tapes are the polythene pipes that are laid on the surface of the soil and at the side of plant rows. The drip tapes often have emitters that are installed at equally spaced intervals. The drip irrigation tubes can come in form of drip tapes or drip tubes. The drip tapes are flexible and thin with most having a thickness ranging from 0.20mm to 0.40mm. Drip tubes are thicker than drip tapes, they have thickness ranging from 0.8mm to 2.0mm, some can be much thicker.

The diameter size of drip tapes can be 12mm, 16mm or 18mm. Drip tapes can also come in rolls of 500 metres, 250 metres, 100 metres, 1,000 metres, 1,500 metres, 2,000 metres and 4,000 meteres etc.

Croco Connectors

The croco connectors are used for the connection of drip tapes or drip tubes to the lay flat hoses. Croco connectors cannot be used to connect drip tapes or tubes to PVC pipes. To insert a croco connector into a lay flat hose, a punch tool has to be used to create a fitting hole in the lay flat hose.

Grommet

A grommet is a small rubber inserted into drilled holes on PVC pipes so that a take-off can be inserted in to for the connection of drip tapes or drip pipes to the sub mains.

Take-Off

A take-off is a connector that is inserted into the grommet for the connection of drip tapes or tubes to the sub mains.

Flush Valve or End Cap

The end cap is the small cap inserted to block the end of the drip tapes or tubes. The end cap prevents water from wasting away from the drip tapes.

Drip caps also allows for easy flushing of the drip tapes or drip tubes. The removal of the end caps from the drip tapes allows dirts and other impurities to get flushed out of the drip tapes. These impurities if not flushed from the drip tapes frequently can cause a blockage of the drip tapes.

End caps may not be needed if you are innovative. A farmer can tie the end of his drip tapes with ropes so that water will not flow out of the drip tapes. This can save the farmer some money.

Air Vent

The air vent is used in the prevention of air from getting sucked into the drip irrigation lines which can cause the blockage of the drip emitters. When the drip irrigation system is witched off, as the water drains off, air occupies the space, this air if not removed can lead to the blockage of the drip emitters. The air vent is usually installed at the highest point on the drip irrigation system. If installed on a low point, dirt may get into the drip irrigation tube via the air vent. This can cause a damage to the drip irrigation system.

Drip Tube Fittings

A typical drip irrigation system can have a lot of fittings. These fittings are used for the connection of the parts of the drip irrigation system. The fittings can include adapters, drip irrigation tees, reducers, ells and couplings.

A reducer for instance can be used to connect a smaller size drip irrigation tube to a bigger size drip irrigation tube.

Venturi Injector

The venture injector is a device used for fertigation and chemigation in drip irrigation systems. The venture injector sucks in fertilisers or chemicals into the flowing water in the drip irrigation lines, the fertilizer solutions are then dropped at the root of every plant.

With a venture injector, a farmer does not need to apply fertilisers, nematicides and other chemicals by hand to his crops. The use of venture injector can save costs, increase crop yield and significantly boost efficiency.

Gravity Drip Irrigation System in Nigeria

A gravity fed drip irrigation system is a type of drip irrigation set up used for gardens and small farm. In this type of drip irrigation set up, an overhead tank or water reservoir is connected to the drip irrigation tapes; the height of the overhead water tank makes the water flow to the drip tapes through natural gravitational force (gravity).

Gravity drip irrigation system can work with a low water pressure; this is one of the advantages of using this type of drip irrigation set-up. It enables small holder farmers to use drip irrigation without necessarily spending a lot of money.

With gravity drip irrigation, farmers can cultivate pepper, tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables all year round.

Rainwater can be harvested and used in the gravity drip irrigation system. Gravity drip irrigation system in Nigeria is a concept that is rapidly developing among farmers.

Veggie Grow has set up a lot of gravity drip irrigation systems for small holder farmers and gardeners in Nigeria.

drip irrigation for pepper farming in nigeria

How to Set Up a Drip Irrigation System

To set up a simple drip irrigation system, the following are needed:

  • A source of water (borehole, river, dam, well and stream etc.)
  • Drip tapes or drip tubes
  • Drip Irrigation connectors
  • Lay flat hoses
  • Main pipes
  • Emitters
  • Air Valve
  • Valves
  • Backflow valve
  • Pump
  • Power or electricity
  • End plugs etc.

The drip tapes or tubes should not exceed 100 metres, if the drip irrigation system is installed in a windy location; hold down stakes can be used to hold down the drip tapes.

When connecting the drip tapes to a lay flat hose, a punch tool should be used to create holes on the lay flat hoses so that croco connectors can be attached to it for onward connection to the drip tapes or tubes.

Greenhouse Farming and Drip Irrigation

A typical greenhouse consists of the structure and the drip irrigation system. Drip irrigation systems are used for irrigating crops in greenhouses and polytunnels.

The crops cultivated in greenhouses are usually irrigated with drip irrigation tapes or tubes. As a matter of fact, I have not seen any greenhouse without a drip irrigation system.

Greenhouse farming goes hand in hand with drip irrigation.

You can contact Veggie Grow through 08025141924 or sales@veggiegrow.ng for drip irrigation systems, greenhouses and other farm technologies.

Ayo Akinfolarin
 

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