Upflow gravel filter for drip irrigation systems

We are Roline Montijn, Gabrielle van Zwieteren and Anke Merkx, three students from the University of Technology Delft studying Civil Engineering. For our Bachelor Final Project we worked on a solution for the problem that drip irrigation in Rwanda is facing at the moment. Drip irrigation has a more efficient water usage than other irrigation systems, needs less energy and has no risk of erosion. However, to prevent clogging of the system, water is needed that has no suspended particles larger than 100 micron. This is currently not available for farmers in Rwanda.

Our supervisor Nick van de Giesen, professor at the TU Delft, introduced us to Norbert van der Straaten, from Holland Greentech in Rwanda, and Arjan Janknegt, from Rivulis in Holland. Holland Greentech has as their vision to further enhance East-Africa’s horticulture and they try to achieve this by focussing on all disciplines of horticulture. With these two companies and with assistance from the TU Delft we were fully set and ready to start our research in the beginning of September. They asked us to use only local materials and to keep the filter costs as low as possible. In this way the filter would be affordable for all farmers in Rwanda.

The project started in Delft, where the first two weeks were spent doing literature studies and tests in the Waterlab. On the 19th of September, we were on our way to Kigali with all necessary materials sponsored by MegaGroup. With help of locals from Holland Greentech we visited two potential farms, in Bugesera and in Nyanza, where the filter could be implemented. Finally the design was made for the farm in Nyanza.

The last two weeks in Rwanda were spent realising and building the filter on the farm of HoReCo in Nyanza. HoReCo is a business with the ambition to help Rwandese farmers improve their productivity and help them concur a spot on the world market. With help from Holland Greentech, Rivulis and HoReCo we completed the project with a successful working filter.

Looking back we have realised a proper working upflow gravel filter for a farm in the south of Rwanda. It was a great experience, working with locals and together succeeding in building a working filter. The last day in Rwanda was spent together with Holland Greentech, to demonstrate the filter to multiple agencies and interested companies, among which the Dutch embassy and the Rwandan Agriculture Board, to show them how the filter works and how it can be used at other farms. At this moment the filter is in use and we hope it will be implemented in other farms in the coming years.

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