Design of a solar micro-irrigation system for a 35 acre farm in Kabarole District
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Elgeyo Marakwet organic farm is a mixed farm located in Kabarole district. Chia, red pepper and bananas are grown on approximately 34 acres of land on the farm. Sixty cows and about one hundred goats are currently reared on the farm. The farm also has a nursery bed where seedlings are raised. The farm currently relies on rain water to meet the crops’ water requirement and a small community well to animals’ requirements. The farm is thus affected by water shortages, especially in the dry season and its capacity is limited by the same. In order to solve the problem, a solar irrigation system needs to be put in place to provide water to support the activities of the farm. The objective of this project was therefore to design the required solar irrigation system. A site survey was carried out and a topographic map of the farm was drawn using ARCGIS. The peak water requirement of the farm was established as the sum of the daily water requirement for the animals and the peak daily requirement for the crops. CROPWAT 8.0 for Widows, a decision support tool by FAO was used to determine the amount of water for the plants. The peak water requirement was found to be 33.5 m3. A reliable borehole which can provide the peak daily water requirement at a flow rate of 5.2 m3/h should be drilled at the farm. The water will be pumped using a submersible 3- phase AC pump, with a capacity to pump the 5.2 m3/h and provide a head 220m, which is the maximum head requirement of the system. The pump’s energy requirement is 7.5 kW which will be supplied by polycrystalline thirty-six 275 Wp solar panels. Sprinkler irrigation method was chosen for red pepper and drip irrigation for bananas. The layouts of the banana and red pepper fields were drawn using AUTOCAD software. The overall lay out of the farm was also drawn using AUTOCAD. The total cost of the project is 141,874,000 Ugandan shillings based on the current prices from the market. The annual increment in revenue from the irrigated crops is estimated to be 16,150,000 Ugandan Shillings. The investment can be recovered from the revenue from the 30 acres of chia, and increased revenue from sale of seedlings and the livestock products. However, hydro-geological survey should be carried out at the farm to ascertain the capacity of the aquifers at the farm and the depth of the water table before the project is under since the system was designed based on borehole information in the surrounding areas. The project should be implemented as it will have an immediate economic benefit to the farmer and also increase the farm’s capacity to rear livestock, increasing the farmer’s revenue in the long run.