Technical evaluation and development of low‐head drip irrigation systems in Kenya
Low-head drip irrigation technology was recently introduced in Kenya. Imported drip systems are delicate to handle and require special maintenance. No guidelines regarding the optimum combination of lateral length, land slope and operating head were provided. To address the constraints, farmers appealed for technical assistance from research institutions. The objective of the present research was to address the farmers' challenges by evaluating existing low-head drip irrigation systems to ascertain their performance in terms of water distribution/emission uniformity and to develop simple locally assembled drip irrigation kits. The research work focused on evaluation of emission uniformity and flow variation at different water supply heads, lateral lengths and land slopes. A number of the existing high-head drip systems were evaluated under low-head conditions with satisfactory results. Low-head drip irrigation systems can be used effectively at 0.5–1.5 m water heads without compromising emission uniformity. Based on the technical evaluation, locally assembled drip irrigation systems “dream drip kits” were developed. The paper presents the methodology used for technical evaluation of different drip systems, results of the evaluation and a brief description of the design and development of locally assembled drip irrigation systems. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.