Irrigation is a labor intensive process since it is carried out on daily basis until maturity of crops. This leads to increase in cost of production for crops produced by irrigation. There exists a need for development of appropriate technology for automation of irrigation with capability of precisely delivering the right amount of water to crops. This will reduce both the cost of producing food by irrigation and minimize water wastage and enhance more land will be put under irrigation.
A team of technologist from Meru University of Science and Technology (MUST) has developed an automatic irrigation system that uses soil moisture sensors to detect when the soil is dry so that the system can channel water to crops and when enough water has been delivered the system shuts the water supply. A farmer can also operate the system remotely by sending SMS messages to the system to initiate appropriate response such as turn on water pump and open a specified water valve so that water can be channel to a specified portion of land or close a previously open valve and open a different one so that water can be channeled to a different portion of land. The preferred mode of irrigation is by drip lines where land is subdivided into different parts and water is channel to each part through an automated water valve which feeds the laid down drip lines. The system, besides reducing water wastage also significantly saves on labor cost since there is no need to engage a farm attendant to man the irrigation process on day to day basis. In case something is wrong, for example water cannot be delivered to the crops yet the soil is dry, the farmer receives an alert SMS from the system notifying him of the problem so that he can organize to attend to the problem.