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Unless the farm or growing area is in a regular or frequent rainfed area some form of irrigation will be required. There are several possible systems which can be adopted, they each have their advantages and possible disadvantages. The main factors to take into account are the scale of hot pepper production and the amount of money which can be invested in an irrigation system. The cost and availability of suitable irrigation water at critical requirement times also has to be taken into account. The following systems are used by pepper producers.

Ridge and furrow

This system is widely used for a range of crops. The land requires preparation and it can be considered labour intensive in setting it up before planting out. However no capital equipment is required, except possibly for siphon pipes to put the water into the furrows. By careful and skilful use of dams farmers can manipulate the flow and distribution of water. It can be regarded as being high in water requirement. especially under high temperatures because of the high, evaporation rate of water and possible run-off. It is not suitable where residual weed killers are to be used.

Overhead irrigation

This requires a financial outlay for distribution pipes, sprinklers, supply tubes and pumps. The distribution system can be organised so that only part of the field or plot is irrigated at a time. Mobility can also be assisted by quick fitting attachments, lightweight and rigid pipes. It is fairly high in water requirement and the wetting of foliage can increase the spread of foliar diseases.

Drip and trickle irrigation

These systems deliver a small quantity of water to the root area of individual plants. They are usually tailor made for a specified plant spacing. They can also be used for accurate distribution of liquid feeds and are regarded as very economical with the water supply (see Figure 16). They are usually relatively expensive compared with some systems and require a pump and filter system. Adiluter can be used in conjunction with drip or trickle to put the required strength of liquid feed into the system. The distribution tubes and nozzles require flushing and cleaning out at the end of each season before safe storage.

Reservoir and drip irrigation system

Appropriate drip irrigation system in an hot pepper plot

Other irrigation systems

Some small scale farmers place a plastic bottle with a pin prick at the base of each plant. The bottles are topped up from cans or hoses. Although very innovative and effective it is also economic with water but this method is not recommended for large scale production or where the farmer has other crops requiring attention.

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