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El Salvador-1 day notes.

We are working in two municipalities

          1.         San Ignacio
          2.        La Palma

Our goal is to support 200 families consisting of approximately 1000 persons.

Problems to resolve

Soil erosion due to poor management and steep slopes.

Lowered infiltration rate because of loss of vegetation.

Future demand of water because of indiscriminant use by irrigators.

Water quality

Producers don’t believe they are using the resources sustainably.

In the northern art of the zone many people are cutting forest.

3 of the irrigation systems incorporate long canals (3-5 km) to transport water to fields. Irrigation tubes just stuck into the
canals. Rain bird elevation controls pressure.

          1.         One of these systems is abanonded. The extension agents are proposing that 90 farmers could utilize this
          2.        Canals develop large cracks, and farmers believe they are losing a lot of water as it travels through the canal.

General Objective

To raise incomes and employment of the small producers without degrading the soil and water.

Specific Objectives

     1.    Identify aquifer capacity to determine sustainble extraction rates.
     2.   Map aquifers and irrigated fields.
     3.   Aquifer Management Plan (Faustino)
     4.   Design Drip Irrigation systems (more to discuss on this later, maybe its not appropriate here).
     5.   Create Aquifer groups (Faustino)
     6.   Promote water and soil conservation
     7.   Farm Management Plans.

Without irrigation, there is little summer production.

Summer production= higher prices????? Maybe not, maybe just extra production.

Numa Pablo- From EL PAES (soil conservation project) Field work coordinator.

November through April, Dry Season (100mm/month)

May through October (1800 mm in total)
Expected Results

    1.     Increase employment
    2.    Increase incomes
    3.    Increase irrigated area (15%)
    4.    Water Use Manual
    5.    New and modified irrigation systems
    6.    Aquifer groups
    7.    Farm plans (200)
    8.    Activities that promote soil and water conservation
    9.    Training extension agents, and eventually farmers to analyze efficiency of their irrigation systems.
    10.   Monitoring system for the advancement of the project.


          1.    Increase production and profitability.
          2.   Alternative uses of labor.
          3.   Impact of Co-management groups.
          4.   Impact of Irrigation systems.

Other tasks

    1.     Identify springs to be used for irrigation systems.
    2.    Identify existing systems
    3.    Measure capacity
    4.    Assess condition of recharge zone
    5.    Assess condition of infrastructure
    6.    Land distribution and production potential.

Without irrigation, they only produce corn.

Although some cabbage is produced during the rainy season, the input costs are much higher (e.g., pesticides, fertililzers).
Diseases and fungus are high during the rainy season. Fungicides are applied every 15 days. Its more expensive to produce
during the rainy season.

Almost all the cabbage producers harvest in January. Not enough water for a crop after february.

Common rotations with irrigation include:


Cabbage beans


Beans cabbage.

Corn can take 8-10 months to harvest because we are at such a high elevation.
Share croppers

             1.         Large Producer (capitalist) pays for transportation, seeds and fertilizers.
             2.        Small farmers raise seeds to seedlings.
             3.        Both decide on what to grow…cabbage or potatoes.
             4.        Land rent is $400 / manzana (Manzana=MZ=7000 m ).
             5.        Farmers and capitalist negotiates who pays for the land.
             6.        Few farmers own their land.
             7.        Farmers are limited by available money to decide what to plant and what transportation.

June-November is the rainy season.



             Plough with a hoe to 40 cm. (16 working days)

             -2 week of October

                           -dig 10 cm holes (60 cm between plants, 80 cm between rows).

                           -1/2 kg of chicken manure in each hole (1 day with 4 people)

             -4 week of October

                           -Nematocide (CONTAIR) application



             1.        Plant seedlings (2-3 days 4-5 persons)

Over the season

             1.        2 granular applications of fertilizer
             2.        5 foliar applications of fertilizer
             3.        2-3 weedings
                             a. -8-10 young persons for 2 days
                             b. Weeding performed with a hoe.


             -watering every day

             Lower down on the system, leads to better chance to irrigate at night.

             Have to move the systems nobody wants to do it at night, therefore they just leave them in the same place all night.

Erosion happens during early season.

Runoff is due to saturation

Clay soils-effective depth 30 cm
Sandy-silty soils 50-100 cm effective depth

PVC costs $9 for 6m of 1 inch

Rain birds cover 24 m diameter. 12 rainbirds/mz

Usually use low quality ‘gardening’ sprinklers

Should we use microirrigators? (erin)

Rio Sampul 240 l/s in april

Guiellermo Reyes-300 m - 3 hours to fill up their tank.


El Centro

Lots of aquifers, headwaters,

Good Drainage

High water Retention

Lots of cabbage,



Middle zone of El Centro

Medium infiltracion

Cabbage and potatoes


Lower Elevation of El Centro

Heavy soils (clayey)

Poor infiltration

30% slope

Little agriculture


Las Pillas

Lower part of Las Pillas (Casadio)

Flat with Cattle

Middle Elevation (Buena Vista)
Sandy Loams

Cabbage, Potatoes, Onion

High Elevations

Thin soils

Highly degraded

Little Fertility

No agriculture

Pine trees

Los Planes

Lower elevation zone

Sandy loams

Cabbage, flowers

Small amounts of potatoes

Bad for cabbage.

High Elevations

Thin soils

Very little agriculture.

General Definition

Bad soils are either thin soils or heavy clay soils.

Las Pillas is wetter than La Palma

2 Mz are the largest fields.

November 12, 2008- cabbage was planted 3o days ago.

Guillermo Reyes

-uses 2 rain birds (sprinkler type), irrigates all day

-110 users on the line, 2 main groups.

             -higher elevation, irrigate during the day. (70 producers)

             -lower elevation irrigate during the night (40 Mz, 40 Producers)

Lots of water until February

Past February, 20 persons are irrigating 8 Mz.
Cited his main problem as being poor irrigation.

Unit Tarea=1/16 of a MZ.

There are some drip irrigators

           -many do not like it

           -too much work. (filter problems/word of mouth may out do their efficiency)

Guiellermo farms 2 Mz currently

Fields are divided into tomato, Corn, and house garden/flower patch.

Guillermo is land owner and farmer

Uses the smaller plastic rain birds because they need less pressure than the larger metal ones.

-Cost is approx. $5.00. Larger Metal ones are $50 dollars and last for three years.

Current sprinkler range is 6 M (1/16 Mz)

Need to replace these every year.

Corn was planted in February-March

Some of the crop rotations he uses:

Potato (4 months)-Carrots and lettuce (4 months)-tomato(5months)-Cabbage (4 months)-Corn (8-10 months)

*staggers carrots and lettuce planting to avoid flooding the market.

Potato (4 months)-Corn (10 months)-Tomato (5 months)- Cabbage (4 months)

Corn is always planted with the first storms of May.

Vegetables can be planted any time.

All the soils on his farm he considers the same.

He is going to plant cabbage and beans in December.

Plant spacing (Tomato)

125 between rows

35 between plants


70-80 cm between rows

40-50 cm between plants

Mentioned that one of the problems with drip irrigation is that different crops have different plant spacing between the plants.
Cabbage has 60 cm between each plant. Potatoes and others have 40 cm between plants.
He personally has to reduce water usage in January.

People at the very end of the line only have to use 1 hose for 1 mz of production because of pressure and water movement
down the slope.

In their group, they have representatives from each area with approx 1 representative/10 people.

$12 buys 1000 cabbage seedlings.

Look for transportation to market “El Tiendona” as a group.

30-40 cm effective depth in the soil, no rocks, fertile soil, good drainage.

Tomato Irrigation Schedule

8-9 hours for each irrigation position. 4 days between irrigation. 2-3 days to irrigate the his tomatoe fields.


8-9 hours. 4 days between irrigation but 4-5 days to irrigate the cabbage (greater area)

Approximate Yields/ MZ.


Good-3,000 boxes (boxes are 50 lbs)

Average-1500 boxes

Poor-1000 boxes.


Good- 80,000 lbs

Average-40,000 lbs

Poor- 25,000 lbs.


Good-100 tons

Average 70 tons

Poor 50 tons

They pretty much just produce corn for their own consumption, however they will sell it, if there is a surplus.

2 employees.

2 daughters and their families live with him.

Don Mario

In the immediate area, there are 5 drip irrigators. All installed by Finn Track Project.
Retention tank on property is approx 9X2.5 m.

Uses the heavy duty metal sprinklers, has a different source than Guillermo, but is Guillermo’s immediate neighbor. 10 m

Irrigation Tape can handle up to 60 lbs of pressure.

Puts fertilizer into the irrigation water.

Cleans the system with Phosphorous (can burn handlers)

Uses a Jacuzzi Filter 1996. Laser Sand Filter. 190 L. 37 gal/minute.

Has 5 people that work for him full time for 4 months. Other temporary workers at different times. Produces Callo Lillies (main

Owns two other farms.

40 cm b/w cabbage

50 cm b/w rows

½ kg of chicken manure.

Covers it with soil


Waits 5 days to plant seedlings

Chicken manure is dried and costs 3-4$ /100 lbs.

Uses the same tapes for each crops. Takes out the hoses before harvest, installs them after planting the seedlings.

Tapes have lasted for 6 years. But there are problems with animals and insects.

Filter lasts 5 years, but chemicals in the water eat at it. He hasn’t been able to clean them for fear of not being able to put it
back together.

1 Mz is drip irrigated. To expensive to put in more, $5000 for each MZ.

$500-600 for 1000 yards of irrigation tape.

Don Juan Portillo

-much less ground cover than Mario o Guillermo.

-On property is irrigation tank. He doesn’t actually use it. He uses a hose stuck further up the stream for greater elevation

-Has carrots, lettuce, cauliflower, cilantro, radishes

-Sells to Walmart

-We visited the source of the tank
          -small stream approx. 200 m to the right when looking up hill.

-6 Mz of land. Two he owns. 4 are a friend of his who lives in LA and allows him to work the land.

-There can be ice in the tubes and canals.

His soils he calls Tierra de Grano.

          -‘cool soils’

          -little clay

0% stones

More than 1 m deep of fertile soils

8 M deep.

Lots of organic matter

This plot has been farmed for 30 years.

Each person gets 1 pipe.

Too cold for Tomatoes about 50 m too high. Putting in lots of Hass avocado (Good prices, less work). Possibly working an extra
6 MZ of land in an agreement with the Mayor of San Ignacio (personal business).

Irrigation schedule

5 hrs of Irrigation, after 3 hours its usually very wet.

Irrigates ¼ Mz at a time every 4 days.

-all the crops are irrigated the same.

Cultivates year round.

Running 2 sprinlers right now.

The tank is limited to 6 tubes in april.

Tubes run ¾-1 mile.

30 m elevation difference fo a #14 sprinkler head.

40 m elevation difference for a metal #23.

End of the line, 2-#23s or 1 #71.

El Rio Bajo

-wants to move the canal up the hill to irrigate more area.

Saul Regalado

Provides seeds, fertilizer, transportation, pesticides, and rents the land (if farmer does not own).

After market

Profits-costs/2= 50/50 split for Trucker and farmer minus the inputs and transportation.

Soil Core at Don Nacho’s Farm in Corn Field in Rio Bajo


Dry, dark brown, loam


Wetter clay loam


Wetter clay loam, mottles, black nodules, red spots.

46-103 (we stopped)

Very high clay, sticky wet clay, orange, some light gray spots. Little grit, high clay, Based on Ryan’s soils, he thinks 60-80% clay.
Not brittle, no fragipan.

                                             Rio Sampul

                                                                        Las Granadillas
                                             Las Pillas
        Reyes’ Tank
                                                                                                   Las Planes


                                                 El Pital   Rio                                                    Aguacatal
                      El Centro

                                                                             Santa Rosa

                                                                       San Ignacio

(River is flowing North to South in this Picture!!! Mountains are at the base of this picture (in west from the border))

Don Pablo (1880 Elevation)

In this zone:
Chile, jalapeno, beets, lettuce, potato, cabbage.

Only irrigates 1/2 Mz for lack of water and money

Potatoes are harvested in November, December. After February can’t plant any more.

Approximately 42 MZs could be irrigated in this zone.

If there was more water in this zone, they would plant more vegetables.

Soils in the lower zone is only good for corn. Too clayey.

Fernando Arriaga is their capitalist.

Lots of ground cover between corn and tomatoes. Beans are grown with the corn.

3 family members work with him.

During the working seasons, 8-10 people for 2-4 days per week

Owns his land. Cabbage, potatoes, corn and beans.

Sprinkler on ½ MZ. 4-5 days between irrigations. 6 hours on one tarea.

He uses a source near the center of Las Pillas (Senta, near cemetery). 6 or 7 other people use the source.

Arturo Chaco

Works at the Green house. Has ½ MZ further up by where we parked the car (1890 el). Doesn’t have irrigation. All his
tomatoes are rain fed. Can’t work past February.

Green House Farmer

-not his land, sharecropper with owner of greenhouse.

-Uses 2500 L/day for green house.

-Green house is 52X11 m.

-Drip irrigation. Has to clean filter every day.

-Greater than 2X yield in field, higher quality. Mainly because greenhouse extends the growing season. Plants produce for 8
months. Greenhouse protects tomatoes from wind, bugs, and diseases.

-Fertilizers with irrigation. Doesn’t have any problem with blockages.

-FinTrack project. Project engineer visits every week.

-Only he works constantly in the green house. 4 people harvest

-Uses AMIAD filtration system.

-The capitalist negotiated a contract with a local super market.

Rio Chiquito

Organic Production
Cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, onion, tomatoes, very few peppers and potatoes.

One farmer receives $1000 a year, for an 800 m stretch of irrigation canal through his property. Every winter his land gets
ruined by the canal and high flows through it.

70% of land is irrigated

High zones-the soils are rocky and think.

Lower zones- clayey loams, fertile.

In the high elevation zone, today there are a lot of puddles, and water in the road canals. Extension agents insist the pines are
harvesting cloud water to drive this water.

Water and Soil Laboratories

UCA (Universidad de Centro America)




UES (University of El Salvador).


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