(The Gist of Kurukshetra) MICRO-IRRIGATION FOR AGRICULTURAL GROWTH [FEBRUARY-2019]


(The Gist of Kurukshetra) MICRO-IRRIGATION FOR AGRICULTURAL GROWTH

[FEBRUARY-2019]


MICRO-IRRIGATION FOR AGRICULTURAL GROWTH

Introduction

  •  Micro-irrigation is considered as a prudent Irrigation technology promoted nationally and Internationally to achieve higher cropping Intensity and irrigation Intensity through more focused application of water to crops. Different types of systems are drip irrigation, sprinkler Irrigation, micro-sprinkler, porous pipe system, rain gun etc., where drip irrigation and sprinkler irrigation dominate among all these systems.
  •  The major crops cultivated under drip irrigation are sugarcane, banana, cotton, lemon, grapes, oranges, mangoes and wide variety of vegetables. Sprinkler irrigation is mainly used for groundnut, wheat, millet, sorghum, mustard etc.

Benefits of Micro Irrigation

  • Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY), launched by Government of India in the year 2015, considered micro irrigation as its integral part due to enhanced water productivity and water use efficiency through its proximity and focused water application. As per the survey conducted for Government of India by IAI et al (2016), across 13 states consists of 5892 beneficiaries of National Mission on Micro Irrigation (NMMI), the following advantages are listed as compared to traditional surface flooding method.
  •  Increase in water use efficiency: Micro irrigation helps in significant reduction of water conveyance losses, runoff, evaporation losses, and seepage & deep  percolation losses. This ensures higher water use efficiency up to 50-90%.
  •  Energy Efficiency: Micro irrigation requires minimum pressure and low flow rate only. Hence, this ensures energy consumption saving up to 30.5%. Even small wells and tanks can also be used as a source of water. Since this system requires very low pressure, off-grid farmers can use solar pumps or diesel pumps.
  • Fertilizer Use Efficiency: Proper mixing of fertilizers and water, control of optimum dosage and direct application of fertilizers to the root zone result in the saving in fertilizer consumption up to 28.5%.
  •  Productivity increase: The crop yield (quantity and quality) is increased and the enhancement of productivity is estimated for fruits I crops up to 42.4 % and for vegetables up to 52.7%. This ensures good economic return for the better yields.
  •  Irrigation cost saving: This technology reduces the overall cost of irrigation due to decrease in labour requirement for irrigation, weeding and fertilizer application. Irrigation cost saving is up to
    31.9%.
  •  New crop introduction: Farmers can judiciously add more new crops due to improved water scenario and it was estimated that as many as 30.4% farmers have done it. Some of the farmers have tried intercropping and crop rotation also.
  •  Increase in farmers' income: The average income of all beneficiaries in all 13 districts was found to be increased up to
    42%. More focussed and judicious use of water and nutrients result in good quality produce and increase in farmers' income. Moreover, the reduction in spacing between the plants can accommodate more number of plants

Technology Promotion

  •  Micro-irrigation is suitably applied to irrigated agriculture of water scarce regions of developing countries. Government has initiated micro irrigation in the Tenth Five Year Plan (2002-2007). Since then, keen initiatives are being taken by Central Government, State Governments, some NGOs and some business firms to promote and propagate this new technology.
  •  Micro-irrigation has been given special importance in Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) with the aim of extending irrigation cover ('Har Khet Ko Pani') and improving water use efficiency ('Per Drop More Crop') to improve various water development and management activities.
  • Effective Implementation of Technology Some reports state that micro irrigation programme implementation is facing some problems. Harsha (2017) reveals that it may be due to the following reasons,
  •  Energy crisis due to power outages and unscheduled interruptions across rural and urban India. This problem may be solved by integrated drip irrigation with solar panel system which is considered as the best option for off-grid farmers. In one of the banana fields in Gujarat, it was estimated that the pressure requirement was only 1-1.5 kgIcm2 for in line dripper. A solar pump system in this field consists of 12 solar panels each of capacity 250 Watt, can operate a pump of 3 Horse Power (HP) capacity,
  •  Expensive micro irrigation: Most of the adopters are wealthier farmers and poor farmers cannot afford it. This problem is resolved by inventing low cost systems by different agencies. International Development Enterprises (IDE), an NGO is actively working in Maharashtra and Gujarat innovate low cost micro irrigation systems and create awareness among poor farmers.

There are two types of micro irrigation systems:

I. Low cost micro irrigation technologies and

II. Commercialised state-of-the-art micro irrigation systems.

III. Declining landholdings and farm Income. IV. Per Drop More Crop" Fallacy: This explains whether the real water saving happens through reduction in evapo-transpiration or not. There are additional benefits of optimum irrigation frequency. Proper irrigation frequency and fertilizer dosage can be adjusted at different stages of plant growth.

Disadvantages

  •  The major disadvantage of solar panel enabled micro irrigation system is that farmers have to schedule irrigation during sunshine hours only, which otherwise they would be using the time for other productive works.
  •  However, this problem may be solved by constructing large storage tanks and connecting with the system. On the other hand, some of the grid connected farmers are getting electricity alternatively one week during day time and the following week during night time.

Conclusion

  •  Total water demand from agriculture sector is around 80%, any effort for saving irrigation water will contribute to water use efficiency.
  •  There are many benefits of micro irrigation which can be listed as increase in water use efficiency, optimum dosage of fertilizer and proper mixing, reduction in the cost of cultivation, reduce drudgery, conserve water resources etc.
  •  Increase in the quantity and quality of crop yield is another notable benefit. Proper mixing and the direct application of fertilizers to the root zone results in the saving in fertilizer consumption

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