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Evaluation of technical performance of the Rota sprayer irrigation system in Kenya

Under the supervision of JKUAT’s, Prof. Mati, Chairman, Soil Water and Environmental Engineering Department, Dr. (Eng.) James Messo, Prof. Patrick Home and Dr. Jackline. Ndiiri both of Soil Water and Environmental Engineering Department and Dr. Abraham M. Haile of SNV-Netherlands. Sara a JKUAT’s masters’ students are involved in The Rota Sprayer project

Sara project aims to assess a new type of sprinkler that sprays water in a larger area compared to the conventional sprinklers is being implemented in Kaguru and Meru Central. The innovation has proven popular with Small and Medium-sized Entrepreneurial (SME) farmers.

Sarah explains how the Rota Sprayer works to Mr Muthomi
Sarah explains how the Rota Sprayer works to Mr Muthomi

According to Sarah, the Rota Sprayer system operates at low pressure and applies water uniformly within the wetted perimeter and can cover an area of 100min one application. She also says that the system is simplified, easy to assemble, light in weight and affordable by the SME farmers.

 “The design considerations of the Rota Sprayer irrigation system make it a better option especially for the SME farmers who have limited resources. For instance, the low operating pressure will help the farmers reduce the pumping cost. Instead of using a pump the farmer can irrigate by gravity, using a raised tank at approximately 3m high,” elucidates Sarah.

Nathan Muthamia, a farmer in Tirimiti, Meru says that the system has made him work efficiently and has become the envy of his fellow farmers in the relatively dry area. “With this system, I work for two hours straight without getting worried about moving my sprinkler system for irrigation,” indicates Mr. Muthamia.

In comparison to the drip system, regularly used in Kenya, the Rota Sprayer system is less susceptible to clogging since the boom is made of aluminum pipes and the outlets are easy to unblock either by flushing the pipes or by using a sharp object to pierce the outlets in case of clogging. “The drip system is highly susceptible to clogging of the emitters which renders the system non-functional whenever the emitters are clogged,” says Sarah.

Although the system has proven popular with SME farmers, Sarah admits that it is a new innovation and needs technical performance evaluation to help the farmers achieve optimum agricultural production through irrigation.

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