well almost !
This is our second year with the winter crops of Wheat, Chickpeas, Ground nuts & a very interesting new introduction this year : Oats. We’ve been watering the fields with our diesel pump & its been a pain to say the least, something or other keeps giving way & it’s really become high maintenance & a nuisance. So slowly the diesel pump is on its way out & the solar pump has taken over. Its been working like a dream, so along with the installation of the solar pump….. in came thoughts about installing drip irrigation. I had always thought drip irrigation to be an expensive proposition. But i have never been a fan of flood irrigation either. Not only about amount of water been used, also because flood irrigation does not allow any mulching & soil building activities along with the crops, so for a farmer like me who is not using any chemical inputs on the land, trying to grow something without mulching & soil building is an absolute crime. So while we were installing our solar pumps, we were discussing all this with Vivek & Arjun, it was they who suggested to go for Driptech.
Conventional drip irrigation costs about 40k per acre & somehow it was not convincing enough & plus it’s simply unaffordable for small plot farmers like me, whereas Driptech costs about 10k an acre & it is much more flexible in its installations….
So one day we decided to take the plunge & we did a trial with just one roll of pipes to see how it works.
This driptech eliminates many parts from the conventional drip irrigation system (including conventional electricity, since driptech runs on gravity !) and also this micro-irrigation system provide highly uniform water application even with low pressure. So we can connect it directly to the solar pump, plus we have an option of connecting it with our storage tanks. Once we installed the pipes & when we were going through the pros & cons of it, Vivek was mentioning ….this seems to be history in the making, by the look of things this farm seems to be the first to do irrigation with a combination of Solar pump & drip irrigation !
But there is an interesting story behind this company called Driptech. Infact drip irrigation is not a new technology, but up until now it has been out of reach for the nearly 600 million small-plot farmers in the developing world.
Peter Frykman, just 26 years old & the CEO of Driptech, while studying mechanical engineering in Stanford University went to Ethiopia as part of the course called “Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability’. Frykman specifically worked on looking at irrigation solutions for small-plot farmers. The product and the manufacturing technology that he developed out of this course and out of his experience in Ethiopia really started with looking at the needs of the small holder farmer.
The irrigation system that Frykman developed requires none of the expensive emitters necessary for larger scale irrigation operations, which enables the company to price its product at two to five times less than a typical commercial system. Driptech also says that on average farmers realize 30% to 70% in water savings and recoup their initial investment in less than six months.
How it works
The Driptech Irrigation System provides small-plot farmers with specially designed drip irrigation tubing, take off valves, grommets and a filter. So a small-plot farmer first rolls out the irrigation tubing, which delivers a uniform flow of water to crop roots via precisely punched holes (sold in rolls of 200 meters in length). The farmer then attaches a takeoff valve to the irrigation tubing to enable him/her to control the area of land that he/she wants to irrigate. The farmer uses the grommets to connect the takeoff valve to the PVC pipe that delivers the water from it source. A filter with a mesh-type screen filter to purify the water prior to irrigating crops is connected between the water source and the PVC piping. The irrigation system can be scaled accordingly depending on the size of a farmer’s field.
So from Stanford to Ethiopia & now to our tiny hamlet called Pishwi, viola a new window of opportunity opened…..