The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Farm Office is experimenting on a drip irrigation system.
The project is supported and funded by IITA management to minimise inputs and maximise output.
Drip irrigation is a micro-irrigation system that is efficient in saving water and nutrients by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants from above the soil surface or buried below the surface.
The purpose is to place water directly into the root zone and minimise evaporation and run-off.
According to Wilson Igbaifua, the Farm Office Manager, drip irrigation has many benefits compared with other types of irrigation.
“In terms of water usage, drip irrigation is highly efficient and economical as each dripper drops 1 litre of water per hour, which is enough to sustain any crop”, he says.
He further explained that pests and diseases, weeds, as well as water usage, will be minimised—a win-win situation for farmers.
Igbaifua explains that the drip irrigation system is good for all crops as it can be adjusted to suit the planting spacing of IITA mandate crops.
“It is a mechanism we intend to replicate wherever we have an IITA presence as this will help scientists to carry out their experiments throughout the year”, he adds.
Head of Breeding Unit in IITA, Peter Kulakow, says “it is excellent that we have this new initiative. Irrigation capacity is very important to our research, especially when we are dealing with small plants.
‘’This is an opportunity to have a technology that uses less water, and in the long run, will be much less expensive than the sprinkler irrigation that we have been using; it is an important development that we are happy to see coming to IITA.”
Sharing her excitement on the new irrigation system, IITA Cassava seed system specialist Diebiru Elo-Mercy said, “This system concentrates on the plants and therefore reduces the growth of weeds. This is going to make seed production very efficient, and it is good to know it is at a lower cost.”