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Ultra-low-energy drip irrigation saves farmers up to 31% in capital costs

Ultra-Low Energy Drip Irrigation: A Game-Changer for Smallholder Farmers (Image: CGIAR)

According to breakthrough field research, the use of ultra-low-energy drip irrigation is capable of saving 22–31 per cent in the capital cost of pumps and emitters. In turn, this would make drip irrigation systems more accessible to smallholder farmers.

Drip Irrigation: Effective but costly for smallholders

Drip Irrigation is the most efficient irrigation method achieving 90 per cent water use efficiency. By comparison, other forms of irrigation are 65-75 per cent efficient.

Its wider adoption by smallholder farmers is hindered by the high capital and operating costs associated with traditional pressurized systems.

How it Works

Dubbed “A Game-Changer for Smallholder Farmers” the improved drip irrigation system incorporates pressure-compensating online drip emitters operating with lower inlet pressures than commercial emitters. This enabled hydraulic energy consumption to be reduced by an average of 63 per cent without compromising water emission uniformity. This translates to potential savings of up to 31 per cent.

Providing Solutions to Arid Farmers

This significant breakthrough came from field trials conducted in Morocco by ICARDA’s Dr. Vinay Nangia’s research in collaboration with the National Institute for Agricultural Research of Morocco (INRA) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Dr. Nangia presented groundbreaking research at the Digital Agriculture Solutions Forum 2023. This advancement is part of an effort to develop digital agriculture solutions that can help to improve water management and irrigation costs in arid regions, especially in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

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