What irrigation options are there for smallholder farmers?

Irrigation is essential if you want to produce healthy crops and high-yields. If you’re a smallholder farmer then the greater the crop, the better for your profit and ongoing sustainability.

As the summer passes the temperature climbs and your crops may struggle to get the water they need. That’s why you need to irrigate them, giving them the right amount of water will help them to flourish.

But, what is the best option for smallholder farmers?

Don’t forget that most irrigation systems will need some sort of power source to run the pump that pushes the water across your crops. A good option for this is to use a solar panel, creating the power you need to run the pump at no additional cost. More importantly, the solar panel is also portable, allowing you to move the irrigation system between fields. 

Mobile Irrigators

Running pipes through all your fields can be a long-winded process and a costly one. While there are some benefits you may want to consider traveling irrigators first. 

In effect, these are huge reels of hosepipe on a trailer that can be easily hooked up to your tractor and driven across the field. The pipe can be connected to your water supply at one end and, at the trailer end, it has a long section that will blast the water across an entire field. It can even oscillate to ensure the entire field gets the water it needs.

This is potentially the most efficient offering of you have a large field or two to look after.

Traditional sprinklers.

If you prefer you can invest in a traditional sprinkler system.

This can be home-based or industrial. Your decision will depend on the space you need to look after. This type of system works in the same way as your garden sprinkler, you can position several of them across a field to ensure all the crops get their precious water.

The hosepipe will need to snake its way up and down, between your crops. It can have tiny holes in it that allow the water to trickle into the ground next to the plants. Or, it can be attached to a mister that sprays a gentle mist across the plants, helping to avoid them getting burned while giving them the moisture they need.


Another option worth considering is to create troughs between the plants. This places the plants on a ridge and allows you to flood each trough with water. Providing you have a slight slope this is a relatively easy option to use. Simply use a hosepipe to put water in each trough until it is full. Then, leave the plants to extract their own moisture, as and when they need it.

It’s important to note there is no one-size-fits-all option. You need to choose the irrigation option that most suits you and your smallholding. It’s a personal decision, but, done properly will result in a significantly better yield.

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