Irrigation farming is the cultivation of crops through the application of water to them at intervals. With irrigation, you can farm all year round.
Irrigation farming can be very profitable as you do not need to wait for the rains before you cultivate your farmland.
In Nigeria, smart farmers are not embracing this strategy in order to produce food all year round. In the north, farmers use dams and rivers to irrigate their crops during the dry season.
Types of irrigation farming
There are various types of irrigation farming techniques, these are discussed below:
Drip Irrigation farming technique
Drip irrigation is the most efficient type of irrigation farming technique. With drip irrigation, you can control the application of water to your crops.
Drip irrigation passes water to crops in a trickle form. Water hardly goes to waste when you use drip irrigation.
The drip irrigation system consists of drip tapes, connectors, sub-mains, main pipe, end caps, venture injectors for fertigation and a source of water like borehole, well or dam etc.
The drip tapes have emitters which are used for the emission of water to the plants. The venture injector is used for fertigation. Fertigation is the application of fertilizer of nutrients to crops through the drip irrigation lines.
With drip irrigation, you can save 50-90% of water, you can also use 30-50% less fertiliser and the yield of your crops can be as high as 200%.
Drip irrigation can also reduce the cost of your labour as you will not need a lot of people to set up your daily water needs like the case of flood irrigation. With drip irrigation, you just plug and play.
Drip irrigation passes water only to the roots of the plants. The plants make use of water better when passed to their roots. Water passed to plants through their leaves can encourage diseases and pests.
Sprinkler irrigation farming technique
Sprinkler irrigation farming technique is the use of sprinklers to pass water to crops. Sprinklers spray water to the foliage and stems of plants.
Sprinkler irrigation is very effective, though not as efficient as drip irrigation.
Sprinklers makes the soil soften, this can encourage better penetration of the roots.
There are several types of sprinklers namely:
Rain guns also called gun sprinklers are large sprinklers used for the irrigation of large expanse of farmland.
Some types of rain guns can irrigate 100 hectares of farmland at once. Rain guns need massive amount of energy or power to function well. It also needs a source of water that is fairly big.
Rain guns are not water efficient like drip irrigation.
Pivot sprinklers are similar to rain guns as they do almost the same work on farmland.
A pivot moves around the farmland spraying water to the crops. It is usually driven by a diesel engine. It is suitable for a very large farmland.
Most farmlands above 20 hectares use pivot to irrigate their crops. It is common in northern Nigeria.
The traditional sprinklers are the regular small sprinklers used by small holder farmers. This type of sprinklers is effective for small farmland.
Flood irrigation farming technique
Flood irrigation farming technique as the name implies is the flooding of farmland. Though it does its job of irrigation plants, it can be very inefficient.
A lot of water is wasted in flood irrigation. You also need to spend a lot of money on labour when you are setting it up.
Flood irrigation can also lead to root diseases in some crops.
Can I make money from irrigation farming?
Yes, you can make a lot of money from irrigation farming if you know what you are doing.
In Nigeria, the prices of food items go very high during the later part of the dry season. A basket of tomato sold for N5,000 in the rainy season can go as high as N30,000 during the later part of the dry season. This price hike applies to almost all crops.
Ugwu farmers make huge profits during the dry season because of lack of rains. Few farmers who know about irrigation cash in on the change in weather to make some money for themselves.
A smart farmer can use irrigation farming strategies to smile to the bank.