Assessing Irrigation Suitability of Pastures in Nakasongola District Using GIS and Remote Sensing
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Forage is responsible for over 80% of dairy farming production costs. Nakasongola District faces adverse effects of the dry spell on the forage varieties, there is about a 27% reduction of milk produced of which one of the causes is limited feeds which can be solved by irrigation application. However, there is lack of information on suitable areas for pasture irrigation which is crucial for planning and design of appropriate irrigation systems for pasture irrigation. This study was aimed at assessing the irrigation suitability of pastures in Nakasongola District using GIS and Remote Sensing. The study’s decision criteria was based on physical factors that included terrain, climate, soil characteristics and water resources while the socio– economic factor considered were markets. All these factors were represented in ArcGIS 10.5 environment using the GIS datasets of temperature, rainfall, soil type, DEM, distance from Lakes, rivers, and main roads. All data was stored and analysed in model builder in ArcGIS 10.5 environment. The analytical-hierarchical process method was used to obtain the weights for each factor. The results showed that the District has 2.27% of its area highly suitable for pasture growth, 57.14% is moderately suitable, marginally suitable covers 10.44% while not suitable covers 30.14%. The sub-counties of Nakitoma, Nabiswera, Kakooge, Wabinyonyi, and Nakasongola were among the highly suitable areas for pasture growth. Flooding was suitable for almost 0.006% of the district, furrow irrigation suitability 6.75%, while sprinkler irrigation suitability covers about 68% while 26% was not suitable for irrigation. The farmers and investors are highly recommended to plant and irrigate pastures in the selected most suitable areas so as to ensure constant provision of forage for dairy farming throughout the year and maximise both milk production and income. The farmers in not suitable areas can apply fertilizers to soils and invest in water reservoirs to make pasture growth and irrigation possible.