H. J. Sang1*, R. M Wambua1 and J. M. Raude2
1Agricultural Engineering Department, Egerton University.
P.O. Box 536 – 20115 Egerton, Kenya
2Soil, Water and Environmental Engineering Department,
Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).
P.O Box 62000 – 00200 Nairobi Kenya
*Corresponding Author: firstname.lastname@example.org
The greatest challenge in the agriculture is to produce more food with little water. The challenge facing tomato farmers in Njoro Sub County is the unfavourable conditions for tomato growth which includes very low rainfall during the dry periods. This therefore needs increasing tomato yield per volume of water used. However, there is limited information on water management practices, or deficit irrigation that would increase tomato crop yield and additionally improve on the tomato quality when drip irrigation is used. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of deficit sub-surface drip irrigation and mulching systems on water productivity of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill) crop in Njoro Sub County. The study was carried out on experimental plots measuring 4 m2 in a shade at Egerton University, Njoro campus. Factorial experimental design was used in this study where the treatments were three water levels (100 % ETC. 80% ETC and 60 % ETC) and four grass mulch densities (0, 0.5, 1.0 and 1.5 kg/m2 ) replicated three times. The driplines were laid at a depth of 5.0 cm below the ground surface. An estimated water depth was applied to the respective experimental plots based on the various irrigation levels as guided by the four main tomato crop development stages. The agronomic parameters and yield was monitored on weekly basis over a period of twenty weeks. The tomato crop water productivity under the interactive effect of deficit sub-surface drip irrigation and grass mulch densities was determined to be highest at 60 % ETC and 1.0 kg/m2 of grass mulch and lowest at 100 % ETC and 1.5 kg/m2. The study provides information on optimum application rates that can be adopted for production of more tomato yields by farmers with less water thus leading to poverty reduction by improving the agri-business in Njoro Sub County.
Keywords: Water management, deficit irrigation, water productivity, sub-surface drip irrigation