Floppy and Egyptian Megaproject
Industrious Egyptians are currently busy building the largest irrigation project in the world. Christo Theron, technical director of Floppy Sprinkler has visited the Toshka construction site in Egypt numerous times. Toshka is a large scale project of irrigation and spatial planning, covering areas not on the banks of the Nile but utilizing areas deeper into the desert that will be irrigated by pumped water from the Nile. This is an effort by the Egyptians to move away from the over-populated area around the Nile river and Nile Delta and opening nearly half a million hectares of Sahara Desert for agricultural use in the first phase of the project.
President Nasser built the Aswan Dam in order to regulate the flow of precious Nile water in order to effectively manage the limited water resources in Egypt. This resulted in one of the largest man-made lakes in the world. Lake Nasser stretches over an area of 6000km2 and has a maximum water capacity of 162 milliard m2.
The plan to irrigate the desert with water from the Nile through a network of canals remains mired in controversy and at the centre of public debate because it hinders the annual inundation of the Nile that deposits layers of fertile silt onto the arable land in the Delta and along the river banks.
Not withstanding this controversy President Mubarak initiated the great Toshka project.
The Toshka project consists of an enormous pump station and canals that will convey approximately 5.5 billion m3 water from lake Nasser deeper into the desert in order to open a half million hectares for agricultural purposes. This project will dramatically change Egypt’s geographical and economic map and will result in creating many job opportunities and industrial development for the Egyptians.
The main Toshka canal course westward from Toshka Bay over an area of 310km. The base of the canal is 30m wide and the width at the surface is 58m. The canal is 10m deep. The quantity of concrete used for the project is staggering. The concrete is divided into three layers of which the first layer is 100mm, the second 150mm and the last 200mm. A staggering 75,000m3 concrete was used to build the pump station. This is very impressive as the concrete trucks on our roads only take a load of 6m3 per truck.
The Toshka pump station consists of 21 pumps. Each pump delivers 16.7m3 water per second. The total pump capacity is 1,100,000m3 per hour or to put it differently 1.5 million black floppy sprinklers each with a flow rate of 730 l/h can simultaneously irrigate an area of 25,000 ha. In other words the Hartebeespoort Dam can be pumped to the brim every 7-days or 52 times a year.
The length of the pump house at Toshka is 108m, the width is 60m and the height is 70m. Eighty kilometers from the pump station the main canal splits into four branches:
- The first branch with a length of 37km serves an area of 120,000 feddan.
(1 feddan = 1 acre).
- The second branch with a length of 35km serves an area of 120,000 feddan.
- The third branch with a length of 22km serves an area of 100,000 feddan.
- The fourth branch with a length of 60km serves an area of 200,000 feddan.
The fourth and longest branch and is being developed by the Dief Allah Consortium. Floppy Sprinkler is involved with this development.
Just like any other farmer Egyptian Farmers want to achieve optimal yields and produce good quality products.
The desert however, poses daunting challenges to farmers and irrigation systems. Wind, dust, high temperatures and the high salinity of the soil make it extremely difficult to farm in the arid desert areas. Therefore it is of vital importance that an irrigation system be very effective and accurate.
Not only does the prevailing winds cause physical damage of plants but also deposit thick layers of dust on leaves. The dust on the leaves inhibits the photosynthesis process of a plant, which ultimately leads to a decrease in yield. It is therefore necessary to plant wind breaks and to have an overhead system that can wash dust from the leaves.
A plant’s photosynthesis process normally occurs between 10°C - 30°C. When the temperature rise above 30°C the stomata of the plant close and the photosynthesis process of a plant stops. With average temperatures ranging from 45-48°C the growth period of a plant is very short. By cooling the plants down the growth period can be doubled.
The high salinity of the soil can fortunately be washed out by the high quality Nile water using an overhead irrigation system.
The Floppy system is ideal for these challenging conditions. By using this system dust can effectively be washed off leaves so that photosynthesis is not inhibited. Plants can be cooled down in order to prolong the growth period. The Overhead System can be effectively used to wash out salts from the soil. Furthermore the negligible loss of water through evaporation and low pressure i.e. low energy requirements is an another advantage of the system.
The first 250 ha Floppy Sprinkler installation will begin shortly and will from the basis of further development at the Toshka Project
It is with pride that South Africans can say that they are part of the largest irrigation project and that the Floppy Sprinkler, an unique South African project will be installed on Egyptian soil.