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Furrow Irrigated Raised Bed Wheat Production

Smart Irrigation, Bountiful Harvests

This technique involves creating raised beds, 40-130 cm wide and 10-20 cm tall, with furrows 20-50 cm wide in between. Crops are planted on top of the beds, and water is directed to the furrows, ensuring even irrigation and maintaining optimal soil moisture. The engineered surface enhances rainwater collection, reducing soil erosion. Capillary forces and evapotranspiration prevent waterlogging, protecting wheat crops. This method is effective only with specific varieties of irrigated wheat. In Ethiopia, these varieties include Amibera, Ga’ambo, Kakaba, Fentale-2, Shorima, Dandaa, and Ogolcho. In Nigeria, the varieties are Attila, Reyna 28, Norman Borlaug, Pastor, Imam, and Kauz. In Sudan, suitable varieties include Goumria, Zakia, Imam, Elnielain, Bohaine, Argine, Akasha, Zaidab, Ageeb, Ashri, Amel, and Al-Shibak.


This technology is TAAT1 validated.


Scaling readiness: idea maturity 7/9; level of use 7/9

Cost: $$$ 300 USD

labor and input per ha

360 USD

sheet plastic per ha

100—250 USD

water from planting to harvest


Open source / open access


  • Excessive Water Consumption in Traditional Flood Irrigation
    Traditional flood irrigation methods result in the wasteful use of large volumes of water. This not only strains limited freshwater resources but also drives up production costs for wheat farmers.

  • Risk of Soil Water Logging and Salinization
    Blanket flooding in traditional methods can lead to water logging, where excess water accumulates in the soil, suffocating plant roots. Additionally, it increases the risk of salinization, as salts in the soil are drawn up, potentially damaging crops.

  • Inefficient Fertilizer Use
    In traditional methods, it's challenging to apply fertilizers precisely, often leading to overuse or uneven distribution. This inefficiency not only drives up production costs but can also harm the environment.

  • Suboptimal Soil Moisture and Crop Productivity
    Inadequate control over soil moisture levels in traditional methods can lead to suboptimal conditions for crop growth. This can result in lower yields and reduced overall productivity for wheat farmers.

  • Limited Freshwater Supply for Agriculture
    Access to freshwater is a critical issue for agriculture, particularly in dryland areas. The limited supply of freshwater for irrigation poses a significant challenge for wheat farmers, impacting their ability to achieve higher yields and drought resilience.


  • Controlled Furrow Irrigation: Implementing controlled furrow irrigation techniques significantly reduces water consumption by directing water only to the necessary areas, optimizing soil moisture levels for wheat crops.
  •  Raised Bed Cultivation: Raised bed cultivation prevents water logging and salinization by promoting drainage and allowing roots to access oxygen, safeguarding crops from these damaging effects.

  • Precision Fertilizer Application: Utilizing precision techniques allows for accurate and efficient fertilizer distribution, ensuring crops receive the nutrients they need without excess, reducing costs and environmental impact.

  • Engineered Soil Surfaces: Implementing engineered surfaces with raised beds and controlled furrows ensures optimal soil moisture levels, promoting healthy crop growth and maximizing yields.

  • Rainwater Harvesting and Controlled Irrigation: Employing rainwater harvesting techniques in combination with controlled irrigation practices helps utilize available freshwater resources more efficiently, enhancing drought resilience and overall crop production.

Key points to design your business plan

For Farmers: 

The practice of Furrow Irrigated Raised Bed Wheat Production involves creating raised beds and furrows in the soil, which can be done using specific equipment. This equipment is designed to construct beds that are 40-130 cm wide and 10-20 cm tall, with furrows of 20-50 cm wide in between. 

Here are the key elements for a farmer in Africa to consider for Furrow Irrigated Raised Bed Wheat Production :

  • Land suitability: Land with a slope less than 3% is ideal to avoid water erosion. FIRBWP works well with sandy, loamy and clay soils found across Africa.
  • Water source: A reliable water source like a well, canal, or stream is needed to supply the furrows.
  • Labor: Depending on the scale of the operation, labor may be needed for bed forming, planting, irrigation management, and harvesting. Consider if hiring help is necessary.
  • Crop selection: Choose wheat varieties suited for furrow irrigation and your specific climate (spring vs winter wheat).
  • Planting schedule: Research best planting times for your region considering temperature and rainfall patterns.
  • Input procurement: Secure seeds, fertilizers, and any necessary herbicides or pesticides well in advance of planting.
  • Bed preparation: Tools like hand hoes or a tractor-drawn bed shaper can be used to create raised beds and furrows. Rental options may be available depending on location.
  • Irrigation management: Farmers will need a system to direct water flow into the furrows. This may involve simple ditches and gates or more complex piped systems.
  • Harvesting: Depending on the scale, harvesting can be done by hand with sickles or with small machinery.
  • Training: Look for training programs or extension services to learn best practices for Furrow Irrigated Raised Bed Wheat Production.
  • Marketing: Plan how you will sell your wheat crop at harvest. Consider local markets or larger grain buyers.

Positive or neutral impact

Adults 18 and over
Positive high
The poor
Positive high
Under 18
Positive medium
Positive high

Positive or neutral impact

Climate adaptability
It adapts really well
Adaptability for farmers
It helps a lot
It doesn't hurt them
Carbon footprint
It doesn't reduce emissions at all
It doesn't make a difference
Soil quality
It makes the soil healthier and more fertile
Water usage
It uses the same amount of water

Countries with a green colour
Tested & adopted
Countries with a bright green colour
Countries with a yellow colour
Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia Algeria Angola Benin Botswana Burundi Burkina Faso Democratic Republic of the Congo Djibouti Côte d’Ivoire Eritrea Gabon Gambia Ghana Guinea Guinea-Bissau Cameroon Kenya Libya Liberia Madagascar Mali Malawi Morocco Mauritania Mozambique Namibia Niger Nigeria Republic of the Congo Rwanda Zambia Senegal Sierra Leone Zimbabwe Somalia South Sudan Sudan South Africa Eswatini Tanzania Togo Tunisia Chad Uganda Western Sahara Central African Republic Lesotho
Countries where the technology has been tested and adopted
Country Tested Adopted
Ethiopia Tested Adopted
Kenya Tested Adopted
Niger Tested Adopted
Nigeria Tested Adopted
South Africa Tested Adopted
Sudan Tested Adopted
Uganda Tested Adopted
Zambia Tested Adopted
Zimbabwe Tested Adopted

This technology can be used in the colored agro-ecological zones. Any zones shown in white are not suitable for this technology.

Agro-ecological zones where this technology can be used
AEZ Subtropic - warm Subtropic - cool Tropic - warm Tropic - cool

Source: HarvestChoice/IFPRI 2009

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that are applicable to this technology.

Sustainable Development Goal 2: zero hunger
Goal 2: zero hunger
Sustainable Development Goal 6: clean water and sanitation
Goal 6: clean water and sanitation
Sustainable Development Goal 13: climate action
Goal 13: climate action
Sustainable Development Goal 5: gender equality
Goal 5: gender equality

  1. Inspect Field and Determine Slope:

    • Before starting, visually inspect the field to identify the slope and direction of water flow.
    • If the slope is less than 0.5%, design the bed-furrow system to be parallel with the slope. If greater than 0.5%, align it with the contours.
  2. Prepare the Soil:

    • Clear the field of rocks, debris, and tree trunks.
    • Till the soil to a depth of 20cm and harrow to break up large clumps.
  3. Install Distribution Channel and Drainage Collector:

    • At the higher end of the field, install a distribution channel to evenly spread water.
    • At the lower end, set up a drainage collector to prevent water accumulation.
  4. Create Raised Beds and Furrows:

    • Use appropriate tools to shape the soil into raised beds (40-130 cm wide, 10-20 cm tall) with furrows (20-50 cm wide) in between.
  5. Level Beds and Optional Covering:

    • Ensure the beds are level for uniform irrigation. Optionally, cover the beds with mulch or plastic sheets to maintain the engineered surface.
  6. Optimize Crop Growth and Rotation :

    • Monitor soil moisture and nutrient levels throughout the growing season for optimal conditions.
    • Harvest when ready, benefiting from higher yields and returns on investment.
    • Consider rotating crops like rice, cotton, or legumes alongside wheat for diversified agricultural productivity.

Last updated on 6 June 2024