In low income countries, existing drip irrigation systems are cost prohibitive to many smallholder farmers. Companies are working to develop efficient, low-cost irrigation systems by using technologies such as positive displacement (PD) pumps and pressure compensating (PC) emitters. However, these two technologies have not been paired in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Here we describe a proof-of-concept pump control algorithm that demonstrates the feasibility of exploiting the physical relationship between the input electrical power to a PD pump and the hydraulic behavior of a system of PC emitters in order to determine the optimal pump operating point. The development and validation of this control algorithm was conducted in partnership with the Kenya-based irrigation company SunCulture. This control method is expected to reduce cost, improve system efficiency, and increase accessibility of irrigation systems to smallholder farmers.

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