Mechanized Soil & Water Management
Soil and Water management is an important element of irrigated crop production. Development of centre pivot systems and micro irrigation systems to increase the productivity of crops and make optimum use of available water is the key focus in water management. Efficient irrigation systems and water management practices can help maintain farm profitability in an area of limited, higher-cost water supplies and labour. Efficient water management may also reduce the negative impact on irrigated production due to water quality or water distribution conflicts. In hand with this is development of appropriate soil management machinery and tools to reduce farm drudgery, especially to make agriculture attractive to the youth.
Rationale and justification
Irrigation water is managed to conserve water supplies, to reduce water-quality impacts, and to improve producer net returns. Water savings through improved management of irrigation supplies are considered essential to meeting future water needs. Irrigation is the most significant use of water, accounting for over 95 percent of freshwater withdrawals consumed in several African countries and roughly 80 percent nationwide. Since opportunities for large-scale water-supply development are limited, additional water demands must be met largely through conservation and reallocation of existing irrigation supplies. Labour is a constraint to agricultural production and any level of mechanization in soil and water management is key to improvement of irrigated agricultural production and profitability.
- To promote mechanised soil and water management systems for improved farm production and profitability
- To validate machinery for soil and water conservation towards increased specific crop production systems
- Water resource competition: Irrigated agriculture is high water consumer compared to other uses e.g. drinking and sanitation. Hence the share water for irrigation shall be used efficiently and cost effectively.
- Labour constraints:Irrigated agriculture is faced by labour shortages and/or inefficient use of labour. Furthermore, most farmers are elderly as agriculture is labour intensive and risky in return, and hence not attractive to the youth.
- Limited mechanization:Although opportunities exist for improving irrigated agriculture through mechanization, the technologies are not accessible to many farmers.
- Water resource protection: Encroachment in water catchment has led to reduced water resource and increase in conflicts over water. Therefore, it is important to protect water resources for sustainability of irrigated agricultural production.
- Poor quality water: Only water of poor quality is available in most arid and semi-arid areas and hence increasing the dangers of environmental pollution by farmers using this water. It is more prudent to develop management strategies and technologies to address the water quality issues.
The programme will focus on the current soil and water management technologies as well as the new irrigation technologies that can be used to improve food productivity and income generation without use of too much water and labour. These will include water harvesting and pumping technologies, water transport systems, water application systems especially micro irrigation and mechanised systems, labour saving soil management technologies and farmer information systems.