Low cost drip irrigation [Nepal]

Thopa Sichaee (Nepali)

technologies_1501 - Nepal

Completeness: 76%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:
SLM specialist:
SLM specialist:

Adhikari Krishna



SLM specialist:

Shrestha-Malla Smita



SLM specialist:
Name of project which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
People and Resource Dynamics Project, Nepal (PARDYP)
Name of the institution(s) which facilitated the documentation/ evaluation of the Technology (if relevant)
ICIMOD International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) - Nepal

1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


1.5 Reference to Questionnaire(s) on SLM Approaches (documented using WOCAT)

2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

An irrigation system which allows the slow and precise delivery of water to crops

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


Drip irrigation is a very water-efficient irrigation system. Water is dripped to individual plant root zones at low rates (2.25 l/hr) from emitters embedded in small diameter plastic pipes.
Farmers in the Jhikhu Khola watershed, Nepal, suffer from a shortage of water for irrigation between the end of one monsoon (June to September) and the next pre-monsoon period (May). This seriously limits agricultural production and leads to much land being left fallow after the monsoon crops have been harvested. Only a small area is planted with winter crops. The sources of irrigation water (such as rivers, and streams) are limited and the amount of water they provide is inadequate for cropping. Most of the sources remain dry outside the monsoon. Farmers expend considerable time and labour gathering what water they can to irrigate their crops. Low cost drip irrigation (LCDI) has been introduced in the watershed as a cost effective way of making the best use of the limited available water.
The cropping pattern of this area sees pre-monsoon vegetables established in February and March and winter vegetables in September and October. The low cost drip irrigation sets are installed while the fields are being prepared by ploughing, levelling, and ridging. Lateral pipes (12m long) are laid along the ridges which lie 1.5m apart. A wooden platform with storage tank is installed and connected to the lateral pipes. After the lateral pipes are laid out, planting holes are dug along the ridges spaced to coincide with the drip holes. These holes are usually set every 0.6 or 1.2m along the pipes depending on the crop. Farmyard manure and chemical fertiliser is placed in each pit and mixed well with the soil. Next, vegetable seedlings are planted in each hole and daily drip watering begins. Bitter gourd is the most commonly grown crop followed by cauliflower. Irrigation water is generally applied either in the morning or the evening. If needed, stakes are placed next to each plant a week later to allow the plants to climb. The climber crops like bitter gourd are netted one month after planting to provide more space for fruiting. Harvesting starts in mid-May and continues until September. Farmers maintain the system by repairing leaks in the pipe joints and by unblocking blocked drip holes.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Region/ State/ Province:

Bagmati zone

Further specification of location:

Kavepalanchowk/Jhikhu Khola watershed

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area
If precise area is not known, indicate approximate area covered:
  • < 0.1 km2 (10 ha)

The technology was first introduced in the Jhikhu Khola watershed ( JKW) in 1993 with the support from University of British Columbia (UBC) but due to the technical problems it stopped in the same year. The drip sets introduced for the first time was North American type, and spare parts were not available after malfunctioning. Later on , from Oct. 2000 to Jan.2001, UBC again conducted experiments using two different types of drip sets , i.e. LCDI and Western Type ( Stefanie 2002) This experiment was conducted on Cauliflower. People and Resource Dynamics Project with the collaboration of Institute of engineering , Tribhuban University has initiated the drip experiment on cauliflower in Hokse ( Kubinde) in November 1999. In 2000 and 2001 the drip experiments were conducted on bitter gourd at Horticultural center( Panchkhal). From 2001 onwards it was introduced to the farmers field.
For this study, most of the discussions will be concentrated on Bitter gourd grown under drip in Panchkhal.

2.6 Date of implementation

If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • less than 10 years ago (recently)

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • through projects/ external interventions
Comments (type of project, etc.):

Concept of drip irrigation came from Israel. LCDI was introduced by IDE/Nepal

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • Reduce water input

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied



  • Annual cropping
  • Tree and shrub cropping
Annual cropping - Specify crops:
  • cereals - barley
  • cereals - maize
  • root/tuber crops - potatoes
  • seed crops - sesame, poppy, mustard, other
  • vegetables - other
  • rice, wheat
Tree and shrub cropping - Specify crops:
  • fodder trees (Calliandra, Leucaena leucocephala, Prosopis, etc.)
  • fruits, other
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 3

Longest growing period in days: 150 Longest growing period from month to month: Jun - Oct Second longest growing period in days: 120 Second longest growing period from month to month: Nov - Feb


major cash crop: Tomato, potato, vegetables
major food crop: Rice , wheat , maize
other: Mustard, barley, fodder trees, fruit trees

Major land use problems (compiler’s opinion): Insufficient water limits agricultural production during the winter and pre-monsoon seasons (Nov-May) leading to low farm incomes from the small landholdings. The increasing inputs of chemical fertilisers are a matter of concern for environmental protection.

Major land use problems (land users’ perception): Irrigation water shortage for the crops grown during winter and premonsoon months.

Type of cropping system and major crops comments: Rain fed land: Maiz-Wheat /vegetables. Irrigated land: Rice - vegetables/Wheat-vegetabes/ Maize

3.4 Water supply

Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
  • rainfed

Water supply: Also mixed rainfed - irrigated

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • irrigation management (incl. water supply, drainage)

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

management measures

management measures

  • M2: Change of management/ intensity level

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

water degradation

water degradation

  • Hs: change in quantity of surface water

Main causes of degradation: urbanisation and infrastructure development (poor irrigation infrastructres), other natural causes (avalanches, volcanic eruptions, mud flows, highly susceptible natural resources, extreme topography, etc.) specify (uneven distribution of precipitation throughout the year.), poverty / wealth (lack of captial - limited fund allocated from government for the irrigation infrastructure development and maintenance), labour availability (lack of labour - out migration for off-farm employment), education, access to knowledge and support services (lack of knowledge - approapriate technologies and the approach to implement them)

Secondary causes of degradation: other human induced causes (specify) (agricultural causes - increased dose of agrochemical use, poor seed qality), land tenure (land subdivision - population growth , separating family members from a household.)

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • reduce land degradation

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

Technical parts and design of a low cost drip irrigation system

Location: Jhikhu Khola watershed. Kabrepalanchowk/

Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: high

Technical knowledge required for land users: moderate

Main technical functions: increase / maintain water stored in soil, slow and precise delivery of water to plant root zones, enhanced phot*

Secondary technical functions: reduction of evaporation losses*, reduction of water distribution losses*

Change of land use practices / intensity level: from conventional irrigation flood/ bucket) to efficient irrigation


IDE Nepal

4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

Specify how costs and inputs were calculated:
  • per Technology unit
Specify unit:

Drip irrigation system

Specify dimensions of unit (if relevant):

150 square meter

Specify currency used for cost calculations:
  • USD
Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:


4.3 Establishment activities

Activity Timing (season)
1. Connection of the lateral pipes to the water storage tank February/March
2. Opening and closing of gate valves February/March
3. Levelling of land for uniform water distribution February/ March ( if required)
4. Construction of wooden platform to raise the storage tank generally February/March
5. Installation of lateral pipes along the ridges/beds;check the spacing February /March
6. then dig about 0.5m deep and 0.3m diameter planting pits for February/March

4.4 Costs and inputs needed for establishment

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Labour Persons/day 1.0 2.8 2.8 100.0
Equipment Drip set unit 1.0 25.8 25.8
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 28.6
Total costs for establishment of the Technology in USD 28.6

Duration of establishment phase: 6 month(s)

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. Prevent leakage by replacing damaged or worn out parts / as per need
2. Clean the drip holes with water and a pin / as per need

4.6 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour Cleaning drip holes Persons/day 1.43 2.8 4.0 100.0
Equipment Replacing damaged parts unit 1.0 300.0 300.0 100.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 304.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology in USD 304.0

Machinery/ tools: spade

The cost is calculated for 150 square meter area , and extrapolated to per hectar of land. Only costs are listed which are additional to the traditional way of growing bitter gourd with out drip. Cost estimated in 2006.

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Agro-climatic zone
  • humid

Thermal climate class: subtropics

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.
Comments and further specifications on topography:

Altitudinal zone: 850 m a.s.l.

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • medium (1-3%)
  • low (<1%)
If available, attach full soil description or specify the available information, e.g. soil type, soil PH/ acidity, Cation Exchange Capacity, nitrogen, salinity etc.

Soil fertility is medium

Soil drainage / infiltration is good

Soil water storage capacity is medium

5.4 Water availability and quality

Availability of surface water:

poor/ none

Water quality (untreated):

poor drinking water (treatment required)

Comments and further specifications on water quality and quantity:

Availability of surface water: More in rainy season (June- September), less in April/May

Water quality (untreated): Also good drinking water but poor in rainy season (June- September), less in April/May source: Natural spring

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Market orientation of production system:
  • mixed (subsistence/ commercial)
  • commercial/ market
Off-farm income:
  • 10-50% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • poor
  • average
Individuals or groups:
  • individual/ household
Level of mechanization:
  • manual work
  • animal traction
  • women
  • men
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

Land users applying the Technology are mainly common / average land users

Population density: 200-500 persons/km2

Annual population growth: 2% - 3%

Off-farm income specification: In most farm households, off-farm income plays at least a minor and increasingly a major role. Occasional opportunities for off-farm income present themselves in the form of daily

Market orientation of production system: The technology is suitable for vegetable farming , most of the farmers grow vegetables commercially because of the good market access.

Level of mechanization: Land cultivation performed mostly with locally available tools like spade and animals are used during land preparation (ploughing)

5.7 Average area of land used by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0.5 ha
  • 0.5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1,000 ha
  • 1,000-10,000 ha
  • > 10,000 ha
Is this considered small-, medium- or large-scale (referring to local context)?
  • medium-scale

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • individual, titled
Land use rights:
  • individual
Water use rights:
  • open access (unorganized)

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts

Income and costs

expenses on agricultural inputs

Comments/ specify:

Reduced cost and time for irrigation and applying fertiliser

farm income

Comments/ specify:

extra income (US$ 700/ha) due to early


Comments/ specify:

time for irrigation and fertigation reduced, but cropping area increased due to the technology; this increases the workload of women around 0-5%

Socio-cultural impacts

community institutions

Comments/ specify:

increased no. of drip users

SLM/ land degradation knowledge

Comments/ specify:

land users become familiar

Livelihood and human well-being

Comments/ specify:

Fallow land used for vegetable production; more income for households.

Ecological impacts

Water cycle/ runoff


Comments/ specify:

Reduction of water loses through evaporation , percolation


soil moisture

Comments/ specify:

due to applying water directly to plants’

soil loss

Comments/ specify:

due to slow and precise delivery of water into the soil

Other ecological impacts

Mono cropping

Comments/ specify:

majority of farmers grow bitter gourd followed by cauliflower

Technology is not suitable where enough water is available

Comments/ specify:

few farmers abandon the drips

Drip set is not available in local market

Comments/ specify:

there should be provision to get drip sets locally. Presently, every farmer has to approach PARDYP project

6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

water availability

Comments/ specify:

less water used to irrigate crops making more

Risk of increased water consumption

Comments/ specify:

Spread of the system could lead to increased upstream water

6.3 Exposure and sensitivity of the Technology to gradual climate change and climate-related extremes/ disasters (as perceived by land users)

Gradual climate change

Gradual climate change
Season increase or decrease How does the Technology cope with it?
annual temperature increase not known

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Meteorological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
local rainstorm well
local windstorm well
Climatological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
drought not well
Hydrological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
general (river) flood not well

Other climate-related consequences

Other climate-related consequences
How does the Technology cope with it?
reduced growing period well

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:

very positive

How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:

very positive

Long-term returns:

very positive


The practice delivers quick and tangible benefits so that users usually get a return on the cost of investment after only one crop season.

6.5 Adoption of the Technology

  • > 50%
If available, quantify (no. of households and/ or area covered):

50 households in an area of 10 ha

Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 51-90%

58% of land user families have adopted the Technology with external material support

29 land user families have adopted the Technology with external material support

Comments on acceptance with external material support: survey results

42% of land user families have adopted the Technology without any external material support

21 land user families have adopted the Technology without any external material support

Comments on spontaneous adoption: survey results

There is a strong trend towards spontaneous adoption of the Technology

Comments on adoption trend: Farmers have shown growing interest, no. of drip farmers are increasing year by year, about 50 farmers in the watershed are practicing drip till present. Another 55 farmers are also using the technology with the support from a local NGO ( Ranipani Gram Sewa Samitee) District Soil Conservation Office, (DISCO) Kabhre and District Irrigation Office ( DIO) Kabhre. PARDYP is continuously providing technical support for all ( about 105) the drip users, no of drip users will be increased drastically in coming future if it is easily accessible and sufficient technical knowledge provided to them.

6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
Dry season ( off season) vegetable production become possible for the areas having limited sources of water.

How can they be sustained / enhanced? Technology should be available in the local market
Effective irrigation with little amount of water.
Plant to plant visits are not required while irrigating, so irrigation, fertigation,
and weeding take less time – the technology needs 50% less labor compared to bucket irrigation

How can they be sustained / enhanced? Experience sharing and interactions among
drip users and non-users, easy access to technology with necessary trainings
Easy fertilizer application with drip.
Women farmers self-esteem was enhanced because of drip as they could grow cash crops alone .
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
Drip irrigation saved 60% of water compared to bucket irrigation; dry season (off-season) vegetable production became possible and cropping area increased on areas with limited access to irrigation water

How can they be sustained / enhanced? Construction of water harvesting ponds and the use of collected water in drip systems makes for sustainable crop production
Additional household income (~$700/ha) due to early fruiting in case of bitter gourd (comparative study of drip vs. bucket irrigation)

How can they be sustained / enhanced? Options for other potential high value cash crops should be explored
Soil moisture lasted for longer period, losses from evaporation reduced.

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
The spacing of the drip holes does not match the farmer’s needs Make pipes available with at least 50 cm distance between drip holes
Spare parts are not available in the local market and farmers have to travel far (to Kathmandu) to get spare parts Make parts available locally
Rats damage drip pipe frequently.
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Technology is not suitable for sloping land and covers only a small area (using a medium-sized kit) Modifying and levelling slopes and increasing the number of drip kits can overcome this limitation
Setup ( fitting) procedure is sophisticated regular training

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

ICIMOD (2007) Good Practices in Watershed Management, Lessons Learned in the Mid Hills of Nepal. Kathmandu: ICIMOD

Available from where? Costs?


Title, author, year, ISBN:

Prajapati-Merz, B. (2003) ‘Drip Irrigation System.’ In PARDYP Annual Report 2003 submitted to ICIMOD, Kathmandu

Available from where? Costs?


Title, author, year, ISBN:

Shrestha, S. (2004) Adoption of Drip Technology and It’s Impact on Gender: a Case Study fromJhikhu Khola Watershed, a report submitted to PARDYP project, ICIMOD, Kathmandu, Nepal

Available from where? Costs?


Title, author, year, ISBN:

Von Westarp, S. (2002) Agricultural Intensifi cation, Soil Fertility Dynamics, and Low CostDrip Irrigation in the Middle Mountains of Nepal, M.Sc. Thesis. Vancouver: University of British Columbia (UBC)

Available from where? Costs?


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