Success story of drip irrigation and fertigation in Turkey
The Nigde-Nevsehir Region in Turkey accounts for more than 1/3 of Turkey's potato production (1.2 million tons). Sprinkler and basin irrigation systems have been used for potato growing in the past in this light-textured soil region.
During the past 16 years, the SWMCN subprogramme has successfully implemented FAO/IAEA-funded TCPs in improving water and nitrogen management in this region with the support of the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority-Ankara Nuclear Research Center in Agriculture and Animal Sciences, Ankara (TAEA-ANRCAAS) as the main counterpart and the following partner institutions: Turkish Science and Technology Research Authority (TSTRA), Nigde Potato Research Institute (MA-NPRI), Ankara University, Agricultural Faculty, Soil Science Department, Ankara (AUAFSSD), and the Soil and Fertilizer Research Institute (SFRI) in Ankara.
Although a conversion from conventional sprinkler irrigation system to drip irrigation-fertigation would cost farmers approximately USD200 per hectare, 60 million dollar annual savings in terms of time, energy and labour inputs in irrigation and the cost associated with the reduction in fertilizer applications would be attained in the region if all farmers adopt drip irrigation and fertigation instead of conventional sprinkler system. Not only such huge savings will be achieved, contamination of ground waters with nitrate leaching can be avoided. These findings from TCPs have been communicated to Turkish farming community by the Turkish main project counterparts (TAEA-ANRCAAS and MA-NPRI) through a 12 minute-interview with the Turkish Radio Television (TRT) on July 2000 at a field site on a farmer's property in the the Cappadocia Region.
The importance of drip irrigation-fertigation for potato growing in the Cappadocia Region was recognized by the Turkish Government with an Act passed by the General Assembly on 14 November 2004 indicating that the Government can provide farmers in the region with a loan of a low interest rate to allow farmers to switch to drip irrigation-fertigation. The interest in drip irrigation-fertigation in the region has been remarkable after the announcement of this Act.
The area under drip irrigation-fertigation had increased from 500 hectare in 2003 to 4000 ha in 2006. Such increase suggests that within a next couple of years, drip irrigation and fertigation system will be the prevailing irrigation system in the region. The above results obtained from the Cappadocia Region can be extrapolated to the light textured soils of Central Anatolia-Bolu Region and Agean Sea Region under nearly similar climatic conditions.