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