In Tunisia, 43% of the families are completely dependent on agriculture for their means of survival. Unfortunately, agriculture-based incomes can be unreliable as smallholder farmers are often affected by droughts, especially in disadvantaged rural areas. Drip-irrigation systems, currently the most efficient irrigation system spread on the market, can be costly and energy inefficient for smallholder farmers struggling to survive.
The buried diffuser is a new underground irrigation technique for trees, shrubs, and vegetables in fields and greenhouses. This innovative technology allows for water and energy savings as well as drought mitigation. In center-south Tunisia, the buried diffuser can keep trees alive during dry periods and improve olive yields that constitute the main source of income for the farmers in the region—thus contributing to poverty reduction.
The buried diffuser provides underground irrigation that delivers water to plants at the root level, and lessens the likelihood of water loss from evaporation. The system is comprised of diffusing parts, which facilitate water infiltration of the soil. A connection to a water distribution pipe helps regulate water flow to plants. The buried diffuser works with gravity, as well as conventional water pressure to ensure that crops are efficiently getting the water they need. This innovation performs better than currently widespread irrigation methods, and should allow farmers to decrease production costs up to 30%. Additionally, the buried diffuser uses 30% less water to produce the same weight of crop.