Frutos Lebombos prefers Floppy!
By Denise Lombard
According to Dries Gouws, CEO of Frutos Lebombos conditions in Mozambique require a simplistic, visible, reliable and robust irrigation system which is exactly what the Floppy Sprinkler system offers.
One of the reasons why he likes the system so much is the fact that the Floppy Sprinkler system is an overhead irrigation system which is completely visible at all times says Gouws. According to him it is more difficult to spot blocked micro sprinklers or drippers which can easily be missed in a plantation. Furthermore due to the diameter of the emitter, small debris that would normally block micro sprinklers has no effect on the Floppy Sprinkler emitter.
Since the Floppy Sprinkler has no metal or mechanical parts, wear and tear is virtually zero, this makes the reliability of the emitter almost 100% says Gouws.
The sprinkler distribution is only 50-60 sprinklers per ha and sprinklers are placed on 5-6 meter riser pipes. This puts emitters well out of reach of plantation traffic and limits damage to the irrigation system to virtually zero.
According to Frutos Lebombo’s Operations Manager, Danie Pretorius, the Floppy Sprinkler system is the easiest irrigation system he has ever worked with. Installation is a simple low cost affair with no need for complicated filter systems. The whole in-field system is above ground and this makes for quick installation and easy maintenance.
| Dries Gouws, standing next to a banana tree, |
gives a clear indication of the thickness of the stem
It’s a banana grower’s dream!
| Huge banana bunch's, weighing more than 90 kg's |
make other banana growers green with envy!
Gouws says that after using the Floppy Sprinkler system for more than three years, very interesting information has came to light:
Taking into account that banana farming in the tropics takes place in extreme heat conditions during certain times of the year the use of an overhead irrigation system is not an option but a necessity says Gouws. According to him some farmers make the mistake to think that overhead irrigation cools the plant while irrigation takes place. This is however only a fraction of the truth. The real cooling takes place as water run down the huge banana leaves next to the stem and lodge between the stem leaves. This in turn creates a water reservoir that acts as a heat radiator that stabilizes the stem temperature. Since stable stem temperature protects the plant it is also an effective way to guard against cooler temperatures at night.
Overall wetting the soil:
Since overhead irrigation wets the total surface area of the plantation, root development is optimized. Root balls and banded root development typically associated with drip and micro sprinklers are thus avoided. Another amazing result is that far less trees need propping due to the sturdiness given by this well distributed root system. By implication the trees are much more wind resistant. According to Gouws at least 70% of trees are never propped. This results in a massive saving in plantation management costs.
| A truly remarkable photo! |
The Hurricane Demoinia hit Frutos a few years ago -
banana trees were broken in half while none of the banana
trees were uprooted or blown over. This phenomenon can be
ascribed to the very strong and well developed root system.
|70 % of the banana trees at Frutos Lebombos |
are never propped due to the well developed
root system resulting from Floppy irrigation.
|Overseas visitors on a visit to Frutos Lebombos. |
From left: Mark Gunter, Canada
Marcel Khoury, U.A.E.
Riete & Henk de Graaf, Australia
Compost in your field:
During harvesting leave pruning result in tons of plant rests ending up on the plantation floor. Frutos Lebombos practices active compost making by heaping up these rests. With the overhead irrigation system it is then possible to irrigate water over these compost heaps which can then be used to add valuable nutrition to the soil for the banana plants in the form of compost.
According to Gouws one doesn’t need to be a genius to realise that banana trees have a certain morphological appearance in order to catch tropical rain from above with big gutter like leaves. The root structure of the banana plant is usually less developed in comparison with plants from drier, desert areas. The reason for this is obvious as larger leaves would result in more moisture being lost through evapotranspiration in very hot and dry climates. Gouws feels that it is therefore important that water is applied where it will result in maximum intake in the plant. In the case with the banana plant water naturally comes via rain onto the leaves.
“We have no doubt that overhead irrigation is the way to go with bananas” says Gouws who feels confident about the Floppy Sprinkler permanent system.
Farmers interested in obtaining more information are invited to contact Dries Gouws at