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Drip irrigation goes down well with sugarcane ryots

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ADVANTAGE FARMERS: The drip irrigation system installed on a sugarcane field in Korkai village near Cheyyar.
ADVANTAGE FARMERS: The drip irrigation system installed on a sugarcane field in Korkai village near Cheyyar.

Special Correspondent

It helps in conserving water and maximising yield

TIRUVANNAMALAI: The experience of several farmers, especially sugarcane growers in different parts of Tiruvannamalai district, has shown that drip irrigation is an effective system for conserving water and maximising the yield.

Under the conventional method of pumpset irrigation, the fields were nearly flooded with water and as a result, the roots were soaked in water for a much longer time than necessary, resulting in poor growth. Besides, the water gets depleted fast owing to long hours of operation of motors for drawing water from the open wells or borewells. Under these conditions, when the monsoon fails and the groundwater level goes down, the farmers are hard hit.

Through drip irrigation, only that much water that is necessary for the crop is applied to the roots from the emitters (holes) in the micro tubes branching off from the lateral liner low density poly ethylene pipes (also known as laterals) passing through the rows of crops to cover the entire land.

A visit to the 1.25-acre sugarcane field of P. Manoharan in Mattapirayur in Chetput panchayat union in Polur taluk, which has been registered with Dharani Sugar Mills, Polur revealed that the first ratoon crop has come up to a height of about five feet and there was a lush growth within 80 days of harvesting the original crop, thanks to the adoption of drip irrigation.

M. Raju, Manager (Cane), Dharani Sugar Mills, said that drip irrigation was being adopted on several sugarcane fields registered with the mills from the time the government introduced the Centrally-sponsored micro irrigation scheme in March 2007.

The water discharge under the system is four litres per hour from each emitter. Under the conventional flood irrigation method, two lakh litres of water would be used for each spell of irrigation, which would go up to seven or eight days. “Under the drip irrigation method, only 25,000 litres of water is discharged for each spell of irrigation, which lasts for a day,” he said.

H. Bhaskaran, a sugarcane farmer in Kunnathur village in Polur taluk, whose field too has been registered with the Dharani Sugar Mills, said that the drip irrigation system also brings with it the ‘fertigation’ system, under which fertilisers are mixed with the water in a ‘fertigation’ tank, immediately after pumping of water from the well, and this fertiliser-mixed water is applied through the LDPE lateral pipes to irrigate the root zone. This method allows for regulated application of fertilisers.

Drip irrigation was also found suitable for mango crops, as seen in Cheyyar in the land of Dhanalakshmi and Osiammal.

D. Ramprabhu, Horticultural Officer, office of the Deputy Director of Horticulture, Tiruvannamalai, said that as against a target of bringing 1,500 hectares of sugarcane under drip irrigation in 2007-08, the installation of the system has been completed on 150 hectares, while it was in progress on 1,200 hectares.

Asked why the drip irrigation system has not been introduced on the fields of small farmers, Satyabrata Sahoo, Tiruvannamalai Collector, said that the district administration wanted to encourage the affluent farmers to adopt the system first so that the small farmers would feel motivated to switch over to the system on seeing the success of the system.

The government gave a subsidy of 50 per cent of the unit cost (subject to a maximum of Rs.25,000) for installing drip irrigation.

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