Irrigation and Drainage Research Division of NRM holds Annual Review

The Irrigation and Drainage Research Division of the Natural Resources Management Research Directorate of EIAR held its annual research review from January 2 to 3, 2017 at EIAR headquarters. The review covered progresses of on-going and summary of completed research activities of EIAR centers and reviewed new project proposals on improving water productivity for sustainable irrigated crop production, evaluation and adaptation of best irrigation practices for improved irrigated agriculture system and management of saline soils for sustainable production and productivity of food. 

During the review program, it was noted that while irrigation has long been practiced at different farm levels, there has been only a few efficient and well-managed irrigation water management practices. It was also described that there is also a limitation of information on irrigation water and crop management practices for small-scale irrigation farms in the country. While meeting crop water requirements maximizes production from land units, it does not necessarily maximize the return per unit volume of water, and hence, improving water productivity is crucial in the research system, which can be implemented through deficit irrigation, supplementary irrigation and full irrigation, it was explained.

It was indicated that among water saving techniques, mulching (plastic mulching and straw mulching) is a promising strategy by which water losses can be minimized with a substantial amount, along with rain water harvesting (in ponds and reservoirs), runoff farming and supplementary irrigation systems.

Another critical issue addressed is the problem of soils salinity and sodicity. Soils of most irrigable areas in the lowlands of Ethiopia are naturally salt affected and hence prone to secondary salinization. Salt-affected soils in Ethiopia cover a total land area of more than 11 million which accounts for 10% of total land size of the country. Hence, over the past a decade, promising research findings have been generated towards addressing technology need applicable to reclamation and management of salt affected soils. These include:

· Optimal irrigation and leaching practices

· Use of chemical amendments, and

· Screening of food and forage crop genotypes for salinity stress tolerance,

· Bio-drainage option for salinity problem

· Suitable cropping system and fertilizer management (not given much attention

· Safe disposal of drainage water without affecting the environment (not given much attention)

The major issues covered during the review include:

Review of ongoing and completed research activities of EIAR centers,

Review new project proposals on improving water productivity for sustainable irrigated crop production in Ethiopia

Deliberation on best irrigation practices for improved irrigated agriculture system;

Review of details of new (technical issues and relevance of research activities towards the output of the research project), progress of ongoing and summary of completed activities;

Integration across programs and projects within the same research

Alignment of planned activities with GTP-II targets and the 15-year research strategy document 

EIAR researchers and other stakeholders from concerned institutions took part in the Review.