Daniel Mateithia, one of the innovators. [Stephen Mburu, Standard]

Three lecturers from Meru University of Science and Technology have innovated an automatic irrigation system suitable for use when rains fail.

Daniel Mateithia, Joshua Thambura and Francis Kigira are the scholars who have come up with this innovation dubbed ‘E-Valve’. According to the researchers, ‘E-Valve’ will not only keep farmers busy on their farms but also keep the country’s food security in check.

“This automatic irrigation system 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 can shut down the water supply,” Mateithia said.

This system prefers drip lines; the farmer can operate it from their home to achieve desired targets.

“Desired responses include turning on the water pump and opening a specified water valve so that water can be channeled to a specified portion of the land or closing a previously opened valve as well as open a different one so that water can be channeled to another portion of the land,” Thambura explained.

The system not only reduces labour costs but also informs the farmer when something is wrong on the farm.

“The system, besides reducing water wastage can also save on labour costs as there would be no need to engage a farm attendant in manning the irrigation process,” Kigira said adding “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 come to attend to it.”

According to Dreamscapes Landscape and Design a company that deals in irrigation systems, an automatic irrigation system has numerous benefits.

First, it will save a farmer plenty of time that in the past would have been spent watering the farm.

To use it, Dreamscapes Landscape and Design explain that you can now have your timers set so that watering will take place at the times that best suit your farm and the climate where you live. 
The firm explains that with an automatic irrigation system, there is no money or water wasted, for everything is timed, programmed and these systems all have rain sensors, so every drop of water is used only when it is needed.

Another benefit is that whatever type of irrigation system you install, there will definitely be a greater saving on water. You can help conserve water with automatic systems, for there is no wasting of water, every drop is used not wasted away. You can save between 30 and 50 percent of the water you normally use with other more conventional watering methods.
When using an automatic irrigation system, you will notice a reduction in the number of weeds on the farm. This is due to the fact that those areas that need water are the only areas receiving water.