Jordan - Adoption of Fertigation Techniques

Objectives:

1.         Assess farmers’ perceptions/experiences with fertigation techniques

2.         Assess adoption rate and degree of adoption of farmers using fertigation technique and the constraints for not adopting

3.         Identify gender constraints for women farmers to adoption of fertigation

4.         Assess farmers’ socio-economic factors that affect the adoption of fertigation techniques

5.         Assess the availability of fertigation technology (equipment and fertilizers) in local markets

6.         Assess current practices used by NCARE to disseminate fertigation technologies to farmers

 --> Identify good practices for NCARE to use for the dissemination of the fertigation technology to Jordanian farmers, particularly on how to collaborate with public, private, NGO, or CSO extension and advisory service providers.

1.      Rationale

Extension plays a key role in the livelihoods of rural farmers, especially the marginalized and impoverished. Extension is much more than just providing farmers or stakeholders with information. Christoplos (2010) defined it as:

“systems that should facilitate the access of farmers, their organizations and other market actors to knowledge, information and technologies; facilitate their interaction with partners in research, education, agri-business, and other relevant institutions; and assist them to develop their own technical, organizational and management skills and practices” (p.3).

 

Through interaction with extension, farmers could potentially gain information, training, market linkages, nongovernment support, nutrition education, and other benefits. Extension services not only address technology transfer, but also help build the human and social capital of rural populations (Christoplos, 2010). These services can help diffuse important technologies such as fertigation that will not only benefit the farmer, but the environment and water conservation. Extension services coupled with ongoing research must be aware of the process of innovation diffusion in order to ensure adoption of any technology or practice.  For this proposal, we will be focusing on a fertigation technology used in the Jordan Valley.

 

Despite the obvious success of an innovation in pilot tests, encouraging farmers to adopt a new practice is often very difficult. While Jordanian farmers have used fertigation for years, there are farmers that still do not use the technology in any of its many versions.  “Getting it right” for the diffusion of innovations is the key for adoption of any technology, in this case, fertigation. Rogers (2003) defined diffusion as the process by which an innovation is communicated among people within a social system over a certain period of time. This type of communication is special in that it is concerned with a new idea. Diffusion involves a certain type of social change where an alteration occurs in the structure and function of a particular social system (Rogers, 2003). In order to better understand how an innovation is diffused into a social system, it is important to recognize the different elements in this process: the innovation, communication channels, time, and the social system. 

The process begins with the innovation. Fertigation, as a new technology, can create uncertainty about the potential consequences of adoption. Understanding the characteristics of innovations can help see how potential adopters view the new technology. Potential adopters look at fertigation and will weigh its relative advantage, the degree that the innovation is perceived to be better than those it is meant to supersede. Farmers must perceive the innovation as advantageous. The innovation must also be compatible. It must be consistent with local values, past experiences, and the needs of the farmers. Fertigation must be in line with the cultural practices of the potential adopters. Complexity is also important. The degree of difficulty in understanding and implementing fertigation by farmers is an important variable in the adoption process. Similarly, trialability of an innovation can help farmers learn by doing. The easier it is for farmers to try an innovation like fertigation on their own terms, the less uncertain they will be. Farmers can see first hand how fertigation will work on their farms without feeling they take on a risk without trial. The final characteristic is observability, how visible the innovation is to others. The easier it is for someone to see the results and benefits of fertigation, the more likely they are to adopt. Without discounting the value of the other characteristics, perceived relative advantage and compatibility are the two most important to consider in adoption of fertigation in Jordan.

Jordanian farmers started using chemical fertilizers in irrigated agriculture in 1960s. Among fertilization techniques used, the by-pass flow technique to apply fertilizer by broadcasting in irrigation water became common in the mid-1970s. Nevertheless, due to increased water scarcity, such wasteful fertilizer use and water practices needed to change. Jordanian agriculture has made considerable investments in developing fertigation technology along with developments in drip irrigation systems. At present, all irrigation in the country is pressurized accounting for 33% of irrigated area out of 270,000 ha of cultivated land (FAO Aquastat, 2008; Zuraiqi, Rusan, Qawasmi, 2004). Most farmers (almost 91%[1]) have switched from surface to drip irrigation as a means to increase water use efficiency and to address increased water shortage. This wide adoption of drip irrigation systems to irrigate crops led to the spread of fertigation technology in farming in Jordan.

 

The fertigation technique - where nutrients are injected through irrigation water in concentrations that meet plant requirements - is widely used in Mediterranean basin countries. Fertilizer is injected through drip emitters to obtain the optimum level of water content and nutrient concentration in the root zone (Miller et al., 1981; Papadopoulos, 2000; Gardner et al., 1984; Bar-Yuosef, 1999). Fertigation technology coupled with best irrigation management systems maximizes the fertilizer use efficiency through increasing the availability of nutrients for plants and decreasing leaching. It also helps control nutrient concentration in soil water, and the timing of fertilization. This in turn translates into environmental benefits such as decreased pollution of groundwater, especially with nitrates (Bar Yousef, 1991).

 

Today, most vegetable and flower crops in greenhouses and open fields are fully fertigated. In 2000, almost 89% of Jordan Valley farmers used fertigation techniques, while 11% of farmers used broadcasting. In 2003, fertigation practice slightly declined accounting for 87.2% of farmers using the technology (Zuraiqi et al., 2004).  Jordanian farmers use different types of fertilizer injection equipment: the by–pass flow tank, irrigation water pump suction, hydraulics injectors, electric pumps, and venture injectors are the most commonly used (see Annex 1 for short description of fertigation techniques currently in use in Jordan). The by-pass flow tank is the oldest technology used in the country. It was introduced first with the drip irrigation in the mid-1970s and it is still widely applied by Jordanian farmers. By the mid-1990s some farmers switched to the use of suction pipes on the irrigation water pumps, which is also common among Jordanian farmers (39.4%). The use of hydraulic injectors had also gained momentum with farmers. This technique is advantageous in terms of controlling the nutrient concentration in the irrigation water based on crop requirements, thus allowing farmers to achieve the optimum levels of moisture and nutrients applied in the plant root zone. As nutrients and water are added conjunctively and precisely to meet plant needs, the efficiency of fertilizer and irrigation water use is significantly improved. For example, the 1998-2000 period, greenhouse experiments with tomatoes in the Jordan Valley showed that this technique can considerably increase the water and fertilizer use efficiency compared to traditional fertigation methods such as by-pass tanks (Zuraiqi et al., 2004). However, the high cost of hydraulic injectors and the need for highly skilled operators are considered as the two most important limitations in farmers’ adoption of this technique.

Fertigation project in Jordan

NCARE has carried out numerous fertigation trials in farmers’ fields in irrigated areas encouraging farmers apply fertigation techniques in their fields. The trials are implemented by researchers; extension conducts field days and workshops to demonstrate to farmers. Extension collaborates with the local community based organizations (CBOs) to arrange the field days. It is unknown (and unlikely) that women participate in the field days. The results from these trials show that increases in crop yield and savings in fertilizers were achieved ranging between 33-60% and 26-40% respectively (NCARE Five Year Plan 2001-2005).

In 2012 NCARE launched a four year fertigation project in collaboration with Agricultural Credit Corporation (ACC) and Jordanian Ministry of Agriculture (MOA). The primary objectives of this project are to save irrigation water and fertilizers, increase crop yield, and improve product quality. The protection of the environment from pollution, especially groundwater, is also of primary concern. The project targets farmers with holdings of 5 dunums (0.5 ha) or more in all irrigated areas in Jordan. The project is implemented by NCARE and ACC. NCARE provides technical assistance; ACC provides interest free loans to farmers.  The funding comes from the government.

In 2012-2013 period alone 366 farmers received loans from the ACC to buy fertilizer hydraulic injectors. The total loan disbursed to farmers was amounted to more than 2.5 million Jordanian Dinars. Ten demonstrations and eleven field days were carried out at farmers' fields in different irrigated areas in Jordan to encourage farmers adopt this innovative technology and for training purposes on the fertigation technology (NCARE fertigation project annual report, 2012). However, NCARE investigations have indicated that more than 90% of farmers in the Middle of the Jordan Valley and Mafraq still use traditional by-pass tanks to apply fertilizer, while the remaining 10% use electric pumps to inject fertilizer (a disadvantage of this technique over others is the electricity is needed as a power source to inject fertilizer while other types of injectors depend on water pressure as a power source). 74% of farmers in the South of Shouna area also use traditional by-pass tanks, while 26% of farmers use electric pumps. 50% of farmers in the North of Shouna use by-pass tanks while 33% use electric pumps and 17% use broadcasting to apply fertilizer (NCARE fertigation project annual report, 2012).

Although different fertigation techniques are currently in use in Jordan, in aggregate they have not reached saturation as the total irrigated area in the Jordan Valley (including the Southern Ghors) is estimated at 33,000 ha (Duqqah, Naber, Shatanawi, 2007). Moreover, the adoption of more advanced fertigation technologies, such as hydraulic injectors, has been very slow. Therefore, to learn what factors (social, economic, environmental) affect the technology diffusion and adoption process by farmers in the Jordan Valley, more research is necessary. This study will help understand farmers’ reluctance to adoption, as well as identify best practices to diffuse technology among farmers and communities in the Jordan valley. The findings will help further improve the extension and rural advisory services interactions with farmers in regards to the adoption of new technologies.

 

2.      Project strategy and activities

The research will evaluate farmers’ perceptions and the adoption rate of fertigation in an attempt to understand the factors that drive the adoption of modern technologies.  We also want to understand, in particular, any gender constraints to the adoption of fertigation techniques.  Based on earlier MEAS research, we know that women are overlooked by extension and advisory services and have a difficult time getting information and access to technologies that would enable them to improve their livelihoods. Finally, we want to look if and how the fertigation technology has diffused to farmers in the Jordan Valley.

The main expected outcomes in line with MEAS PMP:

1.      Rural clients receiving improved services from extension systems (4.2)

Determining why farmers are not adopting fertigation will provide guidance to extension and the various advisory services promoting this technology.  The only way change will occur in the current system is if EAS have the up to date information they need to make changes.

2.      Good practice reforms incorporated into public extension programs (3.4)

3.      Because NCARE is an institution that contains both research and extension, the opportunity for collaboration is there but it is not always realized. This project would complement the existing funded fertigation project by raising questions about the links between research and extension.  Convening dialogue between stakeholders and actors will be a key component of the project.

4.      New extension strategies/approaches/methods defined (2.7)

 

3.      Methodology

 

3.1.            Study area

The focus of our study will be the Jordan Rift Valley, which is the most important agricultural area in the country. The valley has a permanent source of water from the Yarmouk River and side dams. Due to its position below sea level and high temperatures (microclimate), the area is the most important winter vegetable producing area. According to FAO report (2008), Jordan has an estimated 840,000 ha of land suitable for irrigated agriculture. However, only 78,860 ha have been equipped for irrigation based on available water resources. The irrigated land is divided into 3 to 5 ha farms, totaling 10,916 farm units. The irrigated crops grown in the area include vegetables (mainly tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, eggplants, etc.), trees (citrus and bananas) and cereals (wheat). Vegetables account for almost 42% of the irrigated area and represent 69% of the total agricultural output for the country.

 

Jordan Valley farmers use both conventional as well as localized irrigation methods (drip irrigation). Farm water management activities are primarily done by men who operate and maintain the drip, bubbler and sprinkler irrigation systems. Women play an important role in weeding, harvesting, grading, packing, and loading harvested crops. Women are also involved in agricultural processing facilities (e.g., tomato processing plant).

 

3.2.            Primary data

 

3.2.1. Selection of participants

Farmers will be randomly selected according to three groupings:

  1. Participants in fertigation. This group includes farmers who use fertigation techniques on their farms and learned about fertigation technologies.
  2. Neighbors and/or participants in field days. This includes farmers who attend field days on fertigation techniques but have not necessarily adopted a fertigation technique on their farms.
  3. Non-participants (reference farmers). These are farmers neither host and/or attend any technology demonstrations nor use fertigation techniques on their farms. This group of farmers will form a control group and assist in collecting baseline information on farmer's knowledge and perceptions about fertigation technology.

3.2.2. Methods of sample selection

A structured questionnaire will be prepared and used. A pre-testing will be conducted in the target area to refine the final questionnaire. The questionnaire will measure the following indicators:

  1. Farmers’ educational level
  2. Socio economic conditions
  3. The technology used (sources)
  4. Area under production using fertigation
  5. Crops planted
  6. Pesticides used
  7. Fertilizers used
  8. Water sources and irrigation methods
  9. Crop yields
  10. Farmers knowledge of fertigation
  11. Existing farmers’ organizations
  12. Sources for farmers’ technical information
  13. Frequency of visits from NCARE and other extension organizations
  14. Who makes farm decisions (especially with regard to fertilizer application and irrigation)

All people level indicators will be disaggregated by sex.

3.2.3. Interviews with key stakeholders

In situ discussions with a selected group will be conducted including: farmers (fertigation participants and non-participants), farmers associations, women’s groups, local CBOs, exporters, marketing agents, fertilizer/irrigation technology suppliers, credit suppliers, researchers and extension agents and policy makers. 

3.2.4. Focus groups with adopters and disseminators

After the survey data are collected, a small sample of farmers, participants and non-participants in fertigation, will be interviewed in focus groups to obtain more of the qualitative information that may have been missed. 

A Guide for Community level interviews (one to one and Focus Group Discussions) is provided below.

  • What is the range of livelihood strategies in your village/area?
  • What are the key livelihood problems/challenges? What have you tried to do about these challenges?
  • What is working well or not working and why?
  • What can be done differently?
  • What do you know about fertigation and its benefits?
  • Who is benefiting and what is the extent of benefit—contribution to HH food security and income (male, female)
  • How appropriate is fertigation in your circumstances?
  • How sustainable are the fertigation benefits and why?
  • What other linkages have been established to support your fertigation effort?
  • Is fertigation suited to some farmers and not others? Why? (male/female)
  • Are there non-project farmers practicing in fertigation (diffusion?)
  • To what extent did/do women participate in fertigation activities and why?
    (Analysis of beneficiaries. The emerging constraint to fertigation expansion appears to be labor for weeding; the burden of which is borne by women and children)
  • How can more women derive more benefits from fertigation techniques?
  • Any emerging lessons/challenges/issues in the village or district?

 According to the community guide mentioned above, a set of questions will be set in a questionnaire and used in the interviews with the different focus groups.

 3.3.            Methods of data analysis

Descriptive statistics will be used to analyze part of the data including means, percentages and frequencies.  Data concerning the adoption rate and the degree of adoption will be analyzed according to the three categories, which are: participants, neighbors, and non-participants.

4.      Expected Outcomes

The expected outcomes of the study are aligned with MEAS Performance and Impact Indicators and Targets. The overarching goal of the study is to convene a dialogue between researchers, extension agents and beneficiaries (direct and indirect), as well as develop best strategies to maintain and expand this dialogue. NCARE is the leading research and extension institution in Jordan and in the Region. This work will strengthen their human resource capital to conduct and expand on innovative research and extension practices and broker a discussion between NCARE staff to improve their extension strategies.

Our expected outcomes are presented according to MEAS PMP components:

Component 1 – TEACH – Disseminate Modern Approaches to Extension

Output:

1.3  Technical Notes/ Good Practices paper prepared including

-          Qualitative assessment of farmers' perceptions/ experiences on the fertigation technique

Outcomes:

1.1 Training modules developed on fertigation techniques and dissemination best practices, basedon results of research.

1.2a. Training workshops conducted for extension, CBOs, NGOs, and farmers.

1.2b.Seminar/dialogue at NCARE with MOA on the research extension gaps. Also,   workshop held in conjunction with WLI annual meeting to discuss research  extension gaps.

1.4   Socio-economic extension staff is trained to conduct and collect qualitative assessment of farmers’ perceptions/experiences on fertigation technique

1.8  Extension specialist registered in global network through presenting and disseminating their work in national, regional and international conferences and conventions.

Component 2 – LEARN – Document Lessons Learned and Good Practice

Output:

2.4  Evaluations of current fertigation extension programs/practices completed

2.5  Pilot action research project is completed, which focuses on:

-          Qualitative assessment of farmers' perceptions/ experiences on the fertigation technique

-          Estimation of adoption rate and degree of adoption of fertigation, and the constraints that hinder its wide adoption and diffusion

-          Identification of gender based constraints to adoption and diffusion of fertigation

-          Identification of good practices that NCARE can follow for dissemination of fertigation technologies[a10] 

Outcomes:

2.6  Academic paper(s) published including dissertation research

2.7  New extension strategies/approaches/methods defined to diffuse modern fertigation technique among farmers in the Jordan Valley and discussed at NCARE

Component 3 – APPLY – Design Modern Extension and Advisory Service Systems

Outputs:

3.1 Jordan NCARE extension system on fertigation diffusion is assessed

Outcomes:

3.4 Good practice reforms incorporated into public extension programs

Project Level Impacts:

4.1 Rural clients (farmers and women) receiving improved services from public extension systems[a11] 

4.3 Linkages established between EAS provider in Jordan (NCARE) and US institutions (University of Florida)

Primary Investigators:

  • Dr. Samia Akroush, Director of Socioeconomic Studies Directorate, NCARE/Jordan
  • Dr. Sandra Russo, Director, Program Development, UF International Center
  • Ms. Mary Rodriguez, PhD student, UF’s Department of Agricultural Education and Communication

Duration of project: One year (July 2014 – June 2015)

Table 1: Gantt chart (July 2014-June 2015)

Activity

Timeline (2014-2015)

JUL-14

AUG-14

SEP-14

OCT-14

NOV-14

DEC-14

JAN-15

FEB-15

MAR-15

APR-15

MAY-15

JUN-15

Community level interviews / stockholders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Survey design and questionnaire development

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Data collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Data entry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Data analysis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Report writing

 

 

 

 

Mid-term

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seminar and workshops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Publications

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(N.B. Green indicates in Jordan activities, pink is joint UF and Jordan activities)

References:

Bar-Yousef, B. (1991). Fertilization under drip irrigation. In: PALGRAVE, D.A. (Ed.) Fluid fertilizer: Science and technology. New York: Marcel Dekker, 14, p.285-329.

Bar-Yousef, B. (1999). Advances in fertigation. Advances in agronomy, 65, 1.

Christoplos, I. (2010). Mobilizing the potential of rural and agricultural extension. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Office of Knowledge Exchange, Research and Extension. Rome: FAO, 2010. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/docrep/012/i1444e/i1444e00.pdf

Duqqah, M., Naber, S., & Shatanawi, M. (2007). Agriculture and irrigation water policies toward improved water conservation in Jordan. In: Karam, F. (ed.), Karaa K. (ed.), Lamaddalena N. (ed.), Bogliotti, C. (ed.). Harmonization and integration of water saving options. Convention and promotion of water saving policies and guidelines. Bari: CIHEAM/EU DG Resarch, p.97-109 (Options Mideterraneennes: Serie B.Etudes et Recherches; n. 59).

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (2008). Aquastat: Jordan. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/nr/water/aquastat/countries_regions/jordan/jordan_cp.pdf.

Gardner, B.R. & Roth, R.L. (1984). Applying nitrogen in irrigation waters. In Nitrogen in crop production, Ed., Hauck, R.D., pp. 493-505, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, Madison, Wisconsin.

Miller, R.J., Rolston, D.E., Rauschkolb, R.S, & Wolfe, D.W. (1981). Labeled nitrogen uptake by drip-irrigated tomatoes. Agronomy Journal, 73, pp.265-270.

National Center for Agricultural Research and Extension. (2012). Fertigation project annual report, Amman, Jordan.

Papadopoulos, I. (2000). Fertigation: Present situation and future prospects. In plant nutrient management under pressurized irrigation systems in Mediterranean region. (Ryan, J., ed). p.3-49.

Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.). New York, NY: Free Press.

Zuraiqi, S. E., Qawasmi, W. A., Mohammad, M.J.R., & Al-Omari, M. (1999). Management of Nitrogen Fertigation of Tomato With the Use of N15 Technology. Water balance and fertigation for crop improvement in Europe and West Asia. 25-40, IAEA-TECDOC-1266

Zuraiqi, S.E., Rusan, M.J., & Qawasmi, W.A.. (2004). Fertigation in Jordan. IPI regional workshop on Potassium and Fertigation Development in West Asia and North Africa; Rabat, Morocco, 24-28 November, 2004.

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