Review: Dissemination of Pitcher Irrigation System in Dry Lands (Setiawan, 2000)

Table of Contents

Objective of the study
Description of the experiments



Title: Dissemination of Pitcher Irrigation System in Dry Lands
Authors: Setiawan, Budi Indra
Type of Study: Overview of experimental studies and in field implementation
Conference: China International Conference on Dryland and Water-saving Farming; Project: Micro Irrigations, , 21-23 Nov 2000, Bejing.
Open Access: Yes


Objectives of the study

“This paper presents thorough information about the local potentials and participation, benefits, and constraints, as well as the recommendations upon the dissemination of this technology in three locations: Lombok Island, District of Serang, and District of Sukabumi.” [1]



The author provides an overview of one field experiment with 100 pitchers, a demonstration plot of 2 ha with more than 10.000 pitchers, and a farmers participatory project consisting of a 0.1 ha demonstration plot and 2.5 ha of production land. No detailed data is included but that was not the goal for this conference presentation.

Type of experiment: Greenhouse experiment
Country: Indonesia
Place: Lombok Timur area, demonstration plot
Crops: Pepper, tomato
Soil Type:
Number of pitchers: 100
Parameters discussed: water use, costs per ha per cropping season; saturated hydraulic conductivity


Type of project: Demonstration Plot
Country: Indonesia
Place: Randakari Village, Cilegon, Serang, West-Java
Timespan: 1998/1999
Crops: Peas, tomato, red peppers “among others” [3]
Soil Type: Sandy loam
Number of pitchers: more than 10.000
Parameters discussed: Operability for farmers without intensive training


Type of project: Farmers Participatory Project (field trial on farming business scale)
Country: Indonesia
Place: Sub-district of Surade in Sukabumi
Timespan: 1999
Crops: Hot Chili, TM-999
Soil type:
Number of pitchers:
Objective: Development of a profit oriented vegetable farming pattern by applying the pitcher irrigation system



1. Pitcher Irrigation System

2. Field Experiments

3. Demonstration Plots

4. Farmers Participatory

5. Conclusions

6. Acknowledgement

7. Reference


Description of the experiments

Field Experiments

Pitcher characteristics Field Experiments

“Supply of pitchers in this experiment came from the local ceramic artisans around the location. The labors were mostly women from the local households. Each labor had a capacity of 15~20 pieces of pitchers per day using manual equipment or device. The raw pitchers produced were commonly sundried for two or three days before burning them inside a furnace using wooden fuel. All the production processes were done manually including the mixing of the clay and sand.” [2]

“Result of the test on saturated hydraulic conductivity indicated a variation of 10-5 ~ 10-7 cm/s, whereas the required value was 10-6 cm/s (Muhidin, 1998).” [2]

No more details concerning pitcher characteristics are provided.


Soil characteristics Field Experiments

No information provided.


Experimental Set-up Field Experiments
“Experiment in demonstration plot scale was conducted in Lombok Timur area with a rainfall of less
than 300-mm/y.” [2]

“The field trial of this pitcher irrigation system was conducted on a 10×10-m2-demonstration plot having 10 furrows, planted with pepper and tomato.” [2]

“In this experiment, 100 pitchers were planted and four crops of peppers or tomatoes surrounded each.” [2]


Demonstration Plots

Pitcher characteristics

“The making process of those pitchers was the same as that of ordinary ceramic pottery. However, the method used was much different from that shown either in Lombok or Plered-Bandung. The turning raw pitcher by means of foot pedal was not in normal position but inclined forwards away from the operator. That process was a little bit faster but producing different shape of pitcher, i.e., especially the smooth curved shape of its neck. The pitcher raw material consisted of clay and sand mixed in such a way to produce a material with saturated hydraulic conductivity of approximately 10-6 cm/s.” [3]

“The bottom part of each pitcher was made watertight by coating it with paint before it was planted into the soil. This was done to prevent downward infiltration due to the high permeability of the soil.” [3]

“The pitcher raw material consisted of clay and sand mixed in such a way to produce a material with saturated hydraulic conductivity of approximately 10-6 cm/s.” [3]


Soil characteristics

“The soil conditions were very porous since it contained large percentage of sand (sandy loam). The existing lands in average had low water retention.” [3]


Set-up Demonstration Plots

“The first demonstration plot was conducted in Randakari Village, Cilegon, Serang, West-Java.” [3]

“This area was classified as dry land with E category, duration of rainfall of 4 months, and average annual rainfall of approximately 500 mm. The total field area planted was 2 ha and distributed into several locations owned by several farmers. The fields were mostly in the forms of terraces on hilly areas, consisted of dry lands with coconut trees as the main crop. No other crops, either horticultural or cash crops, were grown during the dry season. The lands were almost entirely covered by weeds and bushes. Even most of the coconut trees were not productive at all. During the rainy season only a small parts of the lands could be planted with seasonal vegetable crops such as peas, peppers, etc.” [3]

“The land clearing was some kind of tiresome work since most of the lands had never been farmed before. However, land leveling and furrowing was easily done since the soil was sandy and light. The cropping pattern using pitcher irrigation system in this trial was relatively the same as that used in the demonstration plot. But in this case the soil surface was not covered by plastic mulch since the field was already covered by canopy of the existing big trees. Thus the planting was actually inter-planting between big trees.” [3]

“The total planted pitchers were more than 10,000 pieces.” [3]

“The water pipes used as the main conduits were ¾ inch PVC pipes, and from each of the pipes water was flown into the pitcher using plastic hose with diameter of 0.5 cm.” [3]

“Not only the field trial incorporated individual farmers but also small local businesses of agricultural production inputs, cooperatives, ceramic artisans, as well as about 20 IPB students.” [3]

“The farmers owned all the irrigation equipment and harvest yields. It was expected that after harvest the farmers could use a part of their profit for the provision of production inputs for the following planting season. So far two planting seasons were passed through and getting ready for the third season.” [4]


Farmers Participatory

Pitcher characteristics

“The household scale of ceramic roof industry located at Cisaat Village, north of Sukabumi area did the making of the pitchers. The main raw materials used were the same as those used for roof. The percentage of the sand content was approximately 10~15%. The composition gave the wall of the pitcher a saturated hydraulic conductivity of about 10-6 cm/s. Mixing process of the clay and sand was done using a mixing machine so that the uniformity of the pitcher permeability could be easily obtained.” [5]

“The making process of the pitchers in this area was different from that previously discussed. The pitcher was divided into several components or parts, separately made in several steps, before assembled them into one piece. The first step was the making of the bottom part of the pitcher in a disc shape with a diameter of 20 cm. The second step was the making of the body, initially by forming a rectangular sheet of mixture with its length as the periphery and its width as the height of the pitcher body. The sheet was then rolled using a cylindrical wooden block to form the pitcher body. The third step was the making of the part connecting the body to the neck of the pitcher. This part had the same shape and diameter as the bottom part with circle hole at the center. The diameter of the hole was the same as the diameter of the neck, i.e., around 7 cm. The fourth step was the making of the neck part by similar method as that of the body. The fifth step was the assembling of all components into one piece and ready for sun drying and burning. The different components were made by different labors, and so was the assembling, according to their specialization. The production process of the pitchers seemed to follow industrial manufacturing line process using man labors. No turning device was required in this method and the production process was much easier and less time consuming. The productivity could be ten times as much as that of other method. This local ceramic roof industry could gain more profit by producing the pitchers.” [5]


Soil characteristics


Set-up Farmers Participatory

“The main objective of this activity was to develop business of vegetable farming by applying the pitcher irrigation system.” [4]

“The land for the trial was a 5 ha dry land. During the dry season the land was left uncultivated,” [4]

“Land preparation including land clearing, leveling, and furrowing was the most tiresome work. The cultivated land was divided into two types, i.e., a 0.1 ha of demonstration plot and 2.5 ha of production land. The demonstration plot was designated for demonstration and training purposes and was designed in such a way to show the ideal pitcher irrigation system in reality. On the other hands, only a part of the production land equipped with plastic mulch, other with thatch or hay mulch, and even no mulching at all for the rest. One reason for the different condition was that plastic mulch was expensive, and the other was to find out the influence of the mulching on the yield.” [5]

“The main crops planted were Hot Chili and TM-999.” [5]


Results Field Experiments

“The average water requirement of each pitcher was 2 l/d, supplied from Mariotte tubes made from 200-l metal cylindrical container (barrel). The water consumption appeared thriftier if the soil surface was covered with plastic mulch.” [2]

“Result of economic analysis showed that an investment of Rp 27.5 million per hectare per cropping season would gain a profit of Rp 8.5 million, and it could increase to Rp 29.5 million in the next season (Setiawan et al., 1998).” [2]

“The average water requirement of each pitcher was 2 l/d, supplied from Mariotte tubes made from 200-l metal cylindrical container (barrel).” [2]

“The water consumption appeared thriftier if the soil surface was covered with plastic mulch.” [2]


Results Demonstration Plots

“The farmers could instantly operate the pitcher irrigation system without any necessary pre-training.” [4]


Results Farmers Participatory

“So far it was already found out that the use of mulch would save water consumption and prevent the growth of weeds. However, the different kind of mulch materials seemed to show no significant difference in effectiveness except that plastic mulch was much easier to apply. The use of thatch or hay, however, was strongly recommended since it was much cheaper and abundant.” [5]

“Currently all of the crops have grown with average height of 40 cm; maximum fruits of 110 pieces per plant and minimum fruits of 18 pieces per plant. The difference in yield was affected by the soil fertility level and kind of mulch used. The soil with plastic mulch could grow higher plants with higher yield. Whilst the crops with conventional cultivation had average height of 30 cm and maximum of three fruits per plant, or even no flower has bloomed yet.” [5]


Conclusions Field Experiments

“The result indicated better productivity as well as the ability in saving about 50% of water use.” [2]

Looking at the existing economic condition of the local farmers, they unlikely could afford such investment. This could become a major constraint that hopefully might be overcome through a farm credit scheme or program with low interest.” [2]


Conclusions Demonstration Plots

“The demonstration plot scale of experiment then followed the research in order to find out the performance of the pitcher irrigation and its effect to plant growth. The results indicated that crops could grow and produce well even in the dry season with very high evapo-transpiration condition.” [6]


Conclusions Farmers Participatory

“The result of the field scale trial indicated that farmers could easily operate the irrigation system without any special training. All of the raw materials including equipment used in this irrigation system was easily obtained and of domestic product. The production of the pitchers could readily be done by small ceramic industries of roof and pottery. The farmers could install and do the operation as well as the maintenance of the pitcher irrigation system by themselves in their lands. This irrigation system gave the opportunity of getting sustainable profit when applied for the cultivation of vegetables in dry lands.” [6]




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