Environment

Smart technologies for water management in crops

Once every two to three hours information is sent to the farmer’s mobile as a message. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Irrigation projects have always been part of the top agenda in any government policy. Each administration has always introduced something new for its part on the water issue.

“Irrigation projects are like bank ATMs. One knows how much water is being released from reservoirs but does not know how each drop is being distributed or utilised. It is similar to people remembering how much money they draw from an ATM, but don’t keep tag on how each rupee is spent. The interest shown in creating infrastructure is not shown in management of water resources. Without monitoring water use, its management is not possible,” says Dr. N. Sai Bhaskar Reddy, Coordinator, ClimaAdapt Project, Walamtari, Andhra Pradesh.

Two states

Walamtari is a government organisation in Hyderabad serving farmers of both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh States.

Presently they are working on low cost sensors for water use efficiency, soil moisture and environmental parameters, through a project called ClimaAdapt, supported by the Norwegian Government.

“Unlike in olden days, today several smart technologies like sensors are available to monitor water resources distribution and utilisation. The cost of monitoring water usage with the aid of these technologies is more reliable and convenient as compared to human resources engaged for monitoring,” says Mr. Bhaskar Reddy. All the farmer needs to do is to buy and install one or two sensors in his field and irrigation outlets in the fields for measuring water flow, soil moisture, temperature and relative humidity in the atmosphere. Once every two to three hours information on the above is sent to the farmer’s mobile as a message.

Project

As part of a project to popularise it and bring awareness among farmers Walamtari set up sensors for measuring water use in paddy crops in the field of a beneficiary farmer Mr. K. Prabhakar from Kondrapole village, Miryalaguda, Nalgonda District, Telangana.

Mr. Prabhakar, had been cultivating the paddy crop for the last 30 years in about two hectares. He was utilising water without any measurement.

“I used to worry when there was no water standing in the field. I was given training and also taken for an exposure visit on alternate wetting and drying (AWD) method in paddy by Walamtari. Through them I learnt that there was no need to keep the paddy field always flooded with water. The water level can be allowed to even recede 15 cm below the surface. This will not affect crop yield. There is a saving of 30 to 40 per cent water by this method.

“And also the crop production is high as the roots penetrate deeper with receding water and there are more tillers and increase in paddy yield. The crop also stands well. Although all sensors are installed in the field openly, none of the sensors was damaged or lost due to theft” he says.

Information timings

Today, after setting up the sensors in his field, Mr. Prabhakar is able to get information every three hours on his mobile about the water flow, air temperature, soil moisture etc on his mobile phone.

With these systems in place he is able to schedule his cropping pattern as per the requirement.

Mr. Prabhakar was asked to speak to other farmers in his region about his experience and hearing him, farmers growing chillies and cotton have come forward to try and use this technique.

Cost

Some farmers expressed that they were also willing to buy these sensors on their own for irrigation management. Sensors are priced at Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 3,000.

“Being a Government organisation, it does not market sensors commercially. At present a farmer cannot buy directly from us, but we can guide them to the right place from where they can purchase,” says Mr. Sai.

Though this is a new concept in an area that already faces several problems, the need of the hour is for farmers across the country to become aware about this concept and try them personally.

For more information coninterested farmers contact Dr. N. Sai Bhaskar Reddy, Coordinator, ClimaAdapt Project, Walamtari, email: saibhaskarnaka@gmail.com, Mobile:09676799191.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2020 9:54:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/smart-technologies-for-water-management-in-crops/article7105911.ece

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