Is your irrigation method setting your farm up for success?

Being able to irrigate your crops has so many benefits including healthier plants, higher yields and growing through the dry seasons. But irrigation isn’t just about dumping a load of water on your farm, it’s about watering your crops in an efficient and controlled manner to get your crops what they need to grow best. 

In this blog we cover some of the most common mistakes which can be easily avoided when it comes to irrigation, to turn your farm from surviving to thriving.

Read on and your crops will thank you for it!

Irregular Irrigation

Getting the right amount of water to your crops, at the right time, is key to giving them the best chance to grow. Take care, especially in the dry seasons, to make sure you are regularly giving the right amount of water and are not over/under watering your crops or shocking them with an irregular amount of water.  

water flooding out of a hosepipe near a pump

Underwatering your crops will cause your plants to wilt and not have all they need to grow. This is on top of drying out your soils. Dry soils are more prone to erosion and have less structure for plants to develop strong, healthy roots. 

Overwatering your crops can wash nutrients from the soil, making it harder for your plants to access the right amount they need. Also, plants can only take in so much at a time, so you could end up wasting the extra water you put on as it runs off or evaporates – that is time, energy and resources wasted! 

It can also be really damaging to your crops if you do not have a regular irrigation cycle. This is when plants are drying out too much in between watering and then getting too much water when they are irrigated. This can stress out your plants as they are going between extremes and can experience damage to their root structure and fruits. 

It is best to research how much water your chosen crops need and plan how you can deliver this on a regular basis. Expanding this out to your whole farm will build a regular schedule to use throughout the week and make sure you are heading for success!

Irrigation application methods can help you achieve a more regular irrigation cycle. Efficient types like drip lines, ensure that you cannot flood your crops in one go, sprinklers also provide a light covering of water and careful, targeted, irrigation by hand can ensure that water is going straight to the base of the plant.

Irrigating at the wrong time

Your crops are going to have different irrigation needs throughout the year, with bigger demands during the dry seasons. Building off the knowledge you have for what each of your crops need and how often, you can start to look at when is the best time to get the most out of irrigation across your farm.

The best times generally will be in the morning and late afternoon, outside of the strongest sunshine. This will reduce water loss to evaporation and potential damage to plants from scorching.

This will be most impactful during the hottest, driest times of the year but keep an eye on your local weather forecast – if it’s going to be hot all day, check the soil moisture early. There are also other practices you can use alongside this to improve water management on your farm, such as mulching, check them out here. 

Depending on the type of irrigation you are using, it will take different amounts of time to irrigate your crops. So, take this into account when planning how to irrigate your whole farm.

Drip lines will slowly deliver water to the base of your plants and are set up in place on your crops. Whereas with sprinklers water will “rain” down higher volumes of water onto your crops and will most likely need moving around your farm to cover the full area. This should be preferably done on a set schedule. 

A rainwater harvesting set up on a smallholder farm in Kenya

A tip for being able to irrigate at these times is to pump water to tanks or collect rainwater when it is available so that you have stored water for when you need it. This is particularly useful when you have a solar water pump as you can make use of the hottest part of the day with the strongest sunshine to pump water to tanks and then use this water at cooler times of the day for irrigation. 

Choosing the right irrigation type

Choosing the right type of irrigation for your farm depends on many factors, such as your budget, crop types, water source and farm size.

We have several blogs to help you explore irrigation types further but here is a quick rundown: 

Irrigation TypeAdvantagesDisadvantages
1. SprinklersRelatively cheap
Easy to set up and use
Not labour intensive
Can cover a large area
Not the most efficient
Need to buy sprinklers
2. DripVery efficient
Direct, gentle irrigation
Not labour intensive
Can cover a large area
Expensive start-up costs
More difficult set up
3. MistEfficient
Not labour intensive
Can cover a large area
Expensive start-up costs
More difficult to set up
4. ManualCheapest option
Easy access
Labour intensive
Time consuming
Not suitable for large areas
Less efficient
5. Furrow / Flood Not expensive
Easy access
Can cover a large area
Less efficient

These factors will also influence and depend on how you are getting water to your crops. We recommend solar water pumps, as our solar water pumps are reliable, affordable and sustainable. They work with all the above-mentioned irrigation types and if you have a surface water source, they could be the best option for your farm too.

Farmer switched of SF2 solar pump to power spinklers
Farmer switched of SF2 solar pump to power spinklers

To learn more about different water pump types and how they work check out this blog.


Futurepump solar pump range - SF2 and SE1
Our range of solar water pumps – SF2 and SE1

At Futurepump we are experts in the manufacture of solar irrigation pumps. We want to help smallholder farmers across the world get access to efficient and reliable water pumps – growing crops sustainably all year round.

You can find out more about our work and wider mission across futurepump.com