A technique of minimum water usage, with accurate water distribution and optimum delivery of water to the root zone.
The Plowcon System® was invented in 1969, with aim of reducing the amount of water and power required to irrigate large areas of cotton and maize, and has been used since then by farmers all over Zimbabwe and Southern Africa; particularly by tobacco growers for transplanting..
It is a cost effective solution to early crop development, providing high water savings for small capital outlay, and can be used for supplementary irrigation during breaks in the rains.
Suitable for irrigating most row crops including tobacco, cotton, maize, potatoes, cabbages, groundnuts, paprika; the ultimate solution to water-planting tobacco.
Using the Plowcon System
The correct layout and use of the Plowcon System will produce an equal distribution of water over the entire length of the baffle line. The standard length is 180 metres, though longer and shorter lengths can be accommodated without a loss of accuracy.
The application time given to each row is determined according to the depth of available moisture in the soil, the water retention capacity of the soil and the crop being irrigated.
After the system has been pressurised and sufficient water placed on the first row, the Plowcon line is moved to the next row and so on, the feeder hoses drag behind as the Plowcon line is moved.
The Plowcon line is moved from row to row while under pressure, with the jets pointing directly downwards
Two labourers, starting from it’s middle, work away from each other towards each end, sliding the manifold line from one row to the next.
They then return to the middle ready for the next move to begin.
The system can be used for pre-irrigation, either on flat ground using rip lines to contain the water with the ridge then formed over the wetted line thereby containing the water in the ground, or on the surface of conventional ridges by using a duck-foot tyne to create a water containing furrow on the top of the ridge.
In water-planting the system delivers water directly into the planting holes on top of the ridge. Since this is done a whole ridge at a time (rather than one hole at a time as would be the case if using hosepipes), more area can be covered faster using less labour and with better uniformity. It also allows the water in each planting hole to begin to infiltrate while it is being filled, which means more water can be applied to each hole without overflowing.
Seedlings are hand planted immediately as the Plowcon line is moved to the next row.
As the crop increases in size, the system can still be used for subsequent irrigation until the crop has reached about waist high. It is assumed that the main rains of the season will arrive around this time; if they do not then irrigation up to fully grown plants has been achieved, however additional labour is required to do this to avoid plant damage.
The Plowcon System uses approximately one quarter of the water used in daytime overhead sprinkler irrigation per hectare.
Water is placed directly into the root zone of the plant, since with seedling germination and in the growth of a young seedling it is only the immediate environment, not the ground between the rows, that requires watering. The water requirement is so low because the inter-row is not watered at all. The amount of evaporation is almost negligible since the water is placed directly into the soil.
By establishing the crops before the rains, and since the soil between rows is not watered at all, weed germination is reduced, as compared to overhead irrigation. This allows the crop to achieve a head start in its competition with the weeds and reduces herbicide use.
The accurate placement of water reduces runoff and limits soil erosion.
It is an extremely simple, versatile and adaptable system, designed to allow ease of assembly and operation.
The Plowcon System is suitable for the following crops, at particular development stages:
|Stage of Development|
|Tobacco||Transplanting to 8 weeks|
|Maize||Seed Germination to Waist Heigh|
|Cotton||Seed Germination to 8 weeks|
|Potatoes||Life of Crop|
|Cabbages||Life of Crop|
|Groundnuts||Life of Crop|
|Paprika||Life of Crop|
|Blue Gum Trees||Initial Establishment|
The Plowcon System is a proven and efficient form of irrigation, but don't just take our word for it...
In 1997, 1998 and 1999, this unit was used on the award winning crops grown by the ‘Zimbabwe Tobacco Grower of the Year’.
Additionally, the winner of the 1998 'Zimbabwe Cotton Grower' of the Year, utilised The Plowcon System, to win the highest accolade accorded by the industry.