On-farm performance evaluation of improved traditional small-scale irrigation practices: A case study from Dire Dawa area, Ethiopia

Zerihun Bekele, Ketema Zeleke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)


Field evaluation of surface irrigation systems play a fundamental role to determine the efficiency of the system as it is being used and to identify management practices and system configurations that can be implemented to improve the irrigation efficiency. This study evaluated the performance of an 'improved' traditional small-scale irrigation practice at Adada,a representative small-scale irrigation practice in Dire Dawa Administrative Council, Eastern Ethiopia. In order to determine numerical values of performance measures, certain parameters were measured/observed before, during and after an irrigation event while farmers are performing their normal irrigation practice. These parameters include: irrigated crop, irrigation method,stream size, cutoff time, soil moisture deficiency, and field size, shape and spacing. The results showed that the irrigation water applied to a farmer's plot during an irrigation event/turn was generally higher than the required depth to be applied per event. Since the irrigation method used was end-dyked, the major cause of water loss was due to deep percolation. The deep percolation loss was 32% in sorghum, 57% in maize, and 70% in tomato and potato fields. The type of irrigation system used, the ridged irrigation practice and the poor irrigation scheduling in the study sites were the main problems identified in the management and operations of the schemes. The following corrective measures are recommended to improve the system:(1) farmers should regulate the depth of irrigation water they apply according to the type of crop and its growth stage, change the field irrigation system and/or configuration especially for shallow rooted row crops, to furrow system, (2) guidance and support to farmers in developing and introduction of appropriate irrigation scheduling, and (3) future developmentinterventions towards improvement of traditional irrigation practices should also focus in improving the on farm irrigation systems in addition to improving physical infrastructure of the scheme.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-98
Number of pages16
JournalIrrigation and Drainage Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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