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A season of innovation

YPARD Iran recently introduced the new irrigation system called Climate-Smart Irrigation (CSI) system for perennial plants and trees. This invention relates to agriculture, natural resources and environment, in which the capabilities of the invented device are used to increase the irrigation efficiency. This device optimizes the usage of irrigation water of perennial plants.

Collecting rainwater and surface water using the conventional methods, despite the possibility of their evaporation, cannot be an efficient method for conserving water for plant use. The ability of rain water to percolate makes it accessible for plants although, in the most cases, due to loss of vegetation, the water runs off and causes flood. Moreover, due to climate variations over the past few years, large amount of rainwater flows in the form of soil surface run-off and becomes inaccessible for plants.  In perennial plants, the water usage efficiency (WUE) is very low when using drop irrigation due to the lack of water reaching the active parts of the root of these plants.

The climate-smart irrigation system was designed with the aim of addressing these challenges; by collecting rainwater, transferring it below the soil surface and using it during the time of low rainfall thus making water available and accessible for perennial plants all year round.  This in-turn increases the water usage efficiency.

The gap: current challenges with previous irrigation system

Drip irrigation is one of the most modern methods of irrigation. As this method has been developed after various surface irrigation methods, it is perceived to be the most efficient type of irrigation system. It is superior to most commonly used methods and can replace other methods in different regions with different climatic conditions.

However, like any other method of irrigation, it has strengths and weaknesses. Thus, this method of irrigation needs to be improved. Some of the weaknesses of this type of irrigation include high cost of purchase, installation and maintenance, block of the droppers, the effect on soil salinity and irrigation water quality, limited access for plant root, water evaporation on the surface on heavy soils (clay), lack of percolation of water to the active part of the root of perennial plants (low water usage efficiency) and it is not so appropriate for perennial plants.

Similar irrigation methods have been invented over the past few years to increase the irrigation system efficiency in developed countries, which are mainly designed for specific regions. They have been designed for climates with relatively high moisture and they can be used in countries with humid climates.

Bridging the gap

While collecting rainwater in the form of rain and making it available during the low rainfall seasons alternately, this device can also place irrigation water with high efficiency in Rhizosphere region and prevent surface evaporation.

This device stores the water by upper part to one square meter section by collecting rainwater and transferring it to the underground reservoir and prevents formation of flowing water and surface evaporation. In the water storage reservoir, there are outputs in different depths with clay cap transferring the water to active part of the root and provides water for plant. It also increases the water usage efficiency (in this section, special microorganisms can also be used).

In the upper part of the reservoir, some outputs have been installed to guide the excess water of heavy rainfall and the input water of the reservoir to region of the root in soil depth instead of flowing at the surface and evaporating.  This increases the moisture survivability in the soil.

Solar calorimeter system has been installed on one of these devices so that inform the farmer or farm manager that the water reservoir is empty, as a sample of whole systems installed through alarming system.

Advantages of CSI system

- This innovative method is a combination of local knowledge (traditional Iranian irrigation method) and modern technology.

- In construction of the surface layer, local and environment friendly materials (mixture of cattail, goat's hair, and clay) as well as waterproof Nano-liquid water are used. It is used to collect and guide irrigation water and rainfall to source.

- It is empirically proven to transfer the water from the surface of the soil to the underground (underground source). In addition, it was tried to strengthen the vertical growth of the root by placing specific microorganisms around the clay outputs at various and desired surfaces.

- In the upper part of the reservoir, the excess water output resulting from the heavy rainfalls is placed so that excess water does not return to the surface and by placing zeolite at the end of the path, the outputs of source excess water will save the moisture inside the soil.

- In addition, a lace and plastic cap have been placed on the upper part and input of this reservoir to prevent the entry of soil and other wastes inside and its evaporation.

- This system can be used in regions, where there are appropriate winter and spring rainfalls, even without drip irrigation system.

- Given the phenomena of global warming, climate change and climatic trends in many parts of the world, snowfall in the winter has turned to rainfall. Using this innovative device, we would able to collect the water and maximize the rate of percolation of rainwater and its transfer to the active plant root.

- These device can be equipped with a solar hydrometric system in any garden or forest area, to inform the farmer or farm manager that water reservoir is empty, as an example of whole systems installed  through alarming system.

-This device can be used by perennial plants (damask rose, etc.) and unproductive trees and gardens, by drop irrigation (stored in reservoir) or in rain fed areas where they have appropriate winter and spring rainfall.

-This device is cost-effective, cheap, and can be used for several years. It can also be used in low-water areas for optimal use of rainwater in irrigation for productive and non-productive trees and perennial plants.

Testimonial by  Leila Jahanban (Soil Scientist), Mehrdad Rabiei (Engineer) and Reza Davari (Agronomist)

Photo 1 credit: ILO in Asia and the Pacific