Wick Irrigation - A smart and user-friendly irrigation method for container grown plants

Kamalam Joseph


Organic vegetable cultivation is gaining importance in the event of over-use of pesticides and fertilizers in commercial vegetable farming. Raising vegetables in the grow bags on the terraces of buildings is gaining popularity. However, the greatest problem faced is with regard to timely application of water especially in the container grown plants. The limited rooting media of the containers demands frequent replenishment of water. The usual practice of watering is pot irrigation or hose irrigation, which has its own limitations. Water stress can occur from too much as well as from too little water. Stress caused by too little water reduces yield, with the level of reduction depending on when stress occurs in relation to crop development. Quality can also be affected. Over irrigation may also stress the crop through reduced soil aeration and cause similar consequences. A major effect of excess water is the reduction of nitrogen levels within the root zone to less than favorable levels. Further, there is lack of adequate knowledge on actual water requirement of crops at varying growth phases. With the objective of solving these problems, experiments were carried out in the Centre for Water Resources development and Management during the past many years. As a result, a user-friendly irrigation method ‘wick irrigation’ was developed which is cheap and at the same time water efficient. The scientific principle behind this irrigation method is capillary action. Water tends to move toward dry objects using this principle.

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