The main challenge confronting both rain fed and irrigated agriculture is to improve WUE and sustainable water use for agriculture. An experiment was conducted to evaluate the effect of mulch and amount of water on the yield of tomato under drip irrigation system and to assess the potential of deficit irrigation to improve the economic efficiency of tomato production at Adet Agricultural Research Center, horticultural crops trial site (Woramit) (North Western Ethiopia) from 2006 to 2007. A factorial combination of three levels of water (namely 315, 440 and 565 mm) combined with three mulch treatments [namely without mulch (WM), black plastic mulch (PM) and straw or crop residue mulch (STM)] amid three replications andtwo days irrigation interval was used. Amount of water significantly affected the number of fruits per plant, average weight of fruits marketable and total fruit yield/ha. Significant difference was also shown between mulch treatments on number of fruits, unmarketable, marketable and total fruit yield/ha. Based on the partial budget analysis, the highest net benefit was obtained via 440 mm water with straw mulch amid a net benefit (52,959.40 birr/ha and a marginal rate of return (MRR) 690%. Therefore, application of 440 mm/ha water in two days interval with straw mulch is found to be economically and agronomically feasible and is recommended for Woramit and its surrounding and other similar agro-ecologies under drip irrigation system.
Key words: Tomato, drip, mulching, water levels, marketable fruit yield, total fruit yield, marginal rate.
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