The Toolbox on Solar Powered Irrigation Systems (SPIS) – A Quick Guide

This is Mary. She lives in Taita Taveta County in Kenya and runs a farm with three dairy cows and one acre, to plant tomatoes. As a farmer, Mary has seen the weather change for the worse: no rain, no harvest. Therefore, Mary considers buying a water pump to extract water from the ground. She meets the agricultural extension officer Susan. Susan uses the online Toolbox on Solar Powered Irrigation Systems, SPIS Here is how it works: First, they use the Farm Analysis Tool to develop an overview of costs and income, and to generate a calculation of profit. Mary’s total annual costs: land tax, salary, machinery repairs and so forth add up to about 650,000 KES. She can estimate a total income of almost 900,000 KES for both tomato crop and milk yield. Mary will be gaining a gross profit of about 250,000 KES this season. She wants to reinvest the profit in an irrigation system. They use the Soil Tool to create a soil profile showing the filtration rate, which has direct impact on the water requirement. Using the Water Requirement Tool, Susan calculates how much water Mary needs for irrigation and her cattle throughout the year. Susan explains to Mary how to avoid the risks of
overexploitation of groundwater and of soil salinization. Next, Susan uses the Pump Sizing Tool to determine the pump size, the panel size; and whether to use a tank or not. Irrigation systems can be powered by either solar power, a diesel generator or electricity from the grid. For Mary, electricity from the grid is no option. It’s too unreliable in her region. Susan uses the Payback Tool to show Mary that solar panels are cheaper than diesel in the long-run because fuel costs add up. Mary is convinced: the SPIS is the best option for her. One year later Mary’s farm is busier than ever: after installing the SPIS, Mary now grows crops in TWO planting seasons and her cattle are beyond happy with all the water they are getting. Mary can even use the surplus energy from the panels to power her lamps and charge her phone! Today, Mary is one of many farmers using SPIS around the world as an economically viable and climate friendly irrigation option. The SPIS-Toolbox is designed to enable advisors, service providers and practitioners to provide broad hands-on guidance to policy-makers, financiers and end-users. Come visit our website to learn more about the Toolbox on Solar Powered Irrigation Systems. Thank you for watching.

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