Growth and yield of tomato under alternate furrow irrigation in kibwezi, an â€œASALâ€ area in eastern Kenya
Water saving irrigation technologies are key for crop production in arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) considering the scarcity of water in these regions. A study was set up to test one such a technology, the alternate furrow irrigation (AFI) on tomato at farm level. The experiment was conducted in a furrow irrigation scheme in Kibwezi, which is an ASAL in Kenya. The objective of the study was to determine the effect of AFI on growth, yield and water use of tomato vareity â€œNuruâ€ F1. Irrigation water was applied through furrows in two ways: Alternate Furrow irrigation (AFI) where two neighbouring furrows were alternately irrigated during consecutive watering, eliciting Partial Root Drying (PRD) and Conventional Furrow Irrigation (CFI), which was the farmer practice of filling each furrow with irrigation water at each watering. The experimental design was randomized complete block design with three replications. Irrigation water use, soil moisture, leaf relative water content, vegetative and reproductive growth were determined. The cummulative irrigation water supplied to the AFI treatment was 60-62% of that supplied to the CFI treatment. This amounted to water savings of 38-40%. Plants in the AFI row that received water and those in the CFI had higher leaf RWC, which was significant on limited sampling dates. Most parameters of growth both vegetative and reproductive were higher in CFI compared to AFI, but the difference was not significant. Implementation of AFI in the Kibwezi irrigation scheme can lead to water saving and enhance productivity. However, the declines in vegtative and reproductive growths observed emphasize the need to apply AFI carefully with soil moisture monitoring, to avoid developing severe water deficits, which can lead to significant reductions in both growth and yield.
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