News and knowhow for farmers

Partial Root-Zone Drying irrigation enables potato farmers halve water usage

partial root drying technique

Small-scale potato farmers using furrow irrigation can make use of little water to bring more acreage under cultivation by applying the partial irrigation method.

Partial Root-Zone Drying method, which can save between 30 per cent and 50 per cent of the total water used in an acre, relies on the alternate supply of the commodity to the root system of the crop.

One side of the root system is supplied with water while the other is left dry. On the second round of irrigation, the other roots that were left without water are fed.

David Ramírez of Potato International Centre says the method allows for better development of abscisic acid in the sections of the soil that were ‘skipped’ during the process.

Related News: Kirinyaga sweet potato farmers resort to irrigation to maintain yields

 Ramírez, who heads the Crop Ecophysiology department, says the acid is a hormone that induces tuber formation and promotes the closing of leaves’ stomata. Closing of the stomata reduces water loss via transpiration.

One acre of sweet potatoes requires between 1,400 cubic meters and 2,600 cubic meters for a farmer to receive maximum yield for best returns.

42269 2020 413 Fig2 HTML

Furrow irrigation is one of the methods that has been used for several years, majorly relying on gravity to push water from one point to the other.

Farmers near rivers and streams find it easy to fetch and pour or channel some water through parallel pathways into crop-growing fields.

Related News: Nyeri farmer saves over Sh6000 in irrigation cost with mini dam construction

Related News: Israeli AgriTech company brings digital irrigation to 500K Kenyan small-scale maize growers

However, the expert said more research is ongoing to determine the exact amount of water to be supplied to avoid reducing carbon intake by the plants.

Alternate irrigation has been tried and worked well in Peru, China and Ethiopia.

Once adopted by farmers it would increase harvests, at a time when climate change is reducing the amount of water available for irrigation and domestic use.

Get our news into your email inbox every week

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top