Patrick Sirrs, an irrigation professional and Seed Change supporter, has been providing irrigation advice and support to us for over a year – but always from the comfort of his home in Canada. In February he decided to come to out to Kigoma, see what we were doing on the ground, break a bit of a sweat, and get his hands nice and dirty. And if that wasn’t enough, we asked him to write a guest blog post for us too…
Two weeks ago I set off to Tanzania to visit Seed Change. Being of an irrigation background myself I was intrigued to find out that they were constructing a sizable drip irrigation system around their nursery. Alex and Beatrice, whom I had befriended a little over a year prior, were kind enough to allow me to come and take a look at their operation. It was great to meet their friends and the Seed Change team.
Alex explained to me his plan to install a gravity fed, point-source, drip irrigation system for the seedlings once they were removed from the green-house and placed in the near-by fields. I felt that he had made the right decision using the point-source method as it would allow him to better customize the system for the configuration of the trees. The system design boasts 6 large water towers, one per 6 of the plots, each capable of holding 3,000 litres of water. Each plot will be sub-divided into 3 or 4 sections and each section will potentially consist or 2 zones, for a total of 40 zones. Each zone will contain approximately 1,500 emitters for a grand total of roughly 60,000 trees being serviced with their water requirement each day. Truly a marvel for this area of the world.
We spoke about the benefits of watering the trees in this manner and I was given the opportunity to conduct a seminar on the topic of drip irrigation with members of the Seed Change team. I presented information to the workers at the nursery, discussing the many benefits they would reap by utilizing drip irrigation equipment and practices. We talked about how drip irrigation is far more efficient than other forms of irrigation and hand-watering. Modern drip irrigation is on average 90% efficient compared to other conventional forms of irrigation, which at best would only be 60-70% efficient. I told the Seed Change staff that this would soon be demonstrated to them with the new system that would appear in the fields. The workers were all very excited to hear about how drip irrigation would play an important role in helping them develop healthier, stronger and higher yielding palm trees. As someone who is very passionate about the irrigation world, it was most rewarding to share my knowledge and experience with those it can help immensely in the industry of agriculture.