Ministry of Water Resources08-December, 2008 16:31 IST
Drip Irrigation System – an overview
Drip Irrigation system is an advanced method of irrigation about the usefulness of which the farmers are convinced but the adoption of the same is slow due to high investment cost recurring with operation & maintenance costs. It essentially consists of main, sub-main, laterals, drippers and few other accessories to deliver the required quantity of water at the root zone of the crop. The main accessories are filter and fertilizer tanks/venturi. Filters are necessary to prevent clogging of the drippers. Fertilizers can be applied through venturi/fertilizer tanks to avoid wastage of this costly input. Low cost drip tapes of various diameters, slit sizes and slit spacing are now available.

The advantages of the drip irrigation system are: water savings, enhanced water plant growth and yield; saving in labour and energy, easy operation; most suitable to poor soils; controls weed growth and improves efficiency of fertilizer. Its other advantages are : flexible to operate; no soil erosion, easy installation, no need of land preparation; and diseases and pest problems are minimum. Various institutions have conducted studies, which revealed that the water saving by drip irrigation is significant ranging from 40 % to 70 % over surface irrigation with a yield increase as high as 100% for some crops in specific locations. Therefore, the potential of this system is very high.

Drip irrigation is comparatively an expensive preposition but returns from it being quite high, the expenses are recovered within a short span of time. Therefore, progressive farmers have readily accepted it. Economic viability is the most crucial for large-scale adoption of the drip irrigation method. The cost of the drip irrigation system depends on the type of the crop grown, spacing adopted, water requirements and location of water sources etc. Its benefits in economic terms are found to range from 1.3 to 2.6 times the cost for various crops. These figures are without taking into account the water savings. If water savings are also taking into account, the benefits go up to 2.8 to 11 times the cost of the system. This accounts for the economic logic of entrepreneurial farmers to go in for the drip system on an extensive scale.

The experiences of numerous farmers in this new method are of interesting nature. Many farmers in Coimbatore district had adopted drip irrigation for their coconut plantations, which proved quite successful for them. In Maharashtra, farmers were compelled to take up drip irrigation since water had become a scarce commodity in Nasik, Jalgaon and other districts. In Nasik, the grapevine farmers irrigated their grapevines through drip irrigation systems by buying tanker loads of water during summer (April-June). More than 50% of grapevines are generally irrigated by drip method. Similarly, many farmers are using drip irrigation for banana, pomegranate, orange, tomato, sugarcane and various other crops. In Kerala, coconut and other plantation crops needed water during January to May and the farmers had introduced drip irrigation method due to shortage of water in these months. The experiences in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are also most encouraging, especially for grape, coconut and other fruit crops. It is slowly catching up in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Drip irrigation has been successfully tried on sugarcane plantations also.

The major crops grown under drip irrigation system are : Cereals: Corn, Sorghum, wheat; flowers: Chrysanthemum, Carnation, Jasmine, Rose, (All) Ornamental, (All) pastures; Fodders: Alfalfa, Asparagus, (All) Pastures; Fibres: Cotton, Sisal; Nuts; Almond, Areca nut, Cashew nut, Coconut, Macadamia, Walnut and Oilseeds: Groundnut. The spices and vegetables grown under drip irrigation system are : Spices: Cardamom, Pepper; and Vegetables: Beetroot, Brinjal, Bulbs, Celery, Chilli, Cucumber, Eggplant, Lettuce, Onion, Peas, Potato, Radish, Sweet Potato, Tomato.

Other major crops grown under drip include are: Orchards: Amla, Apple, Apricot, Avocado, Banana, Ber, Betel vine Boysen berry, Cherry, Chikoo, Citrus, Custard Apple, Fig, Grape fruit, Guava, Lemon, Lime, Mango, Mosambi, Naval Orange, Papaya, Peach, Pear, Pineapple, Persimmon, Plum, Pomegranate, Strawberry, Tangelo, Tangerine, Valencia orange, Watermelon; and Plantation Crops: Bamboo, Cocoa, Coffee, Mulberry, Oil palm, Rubber, Sugarcane, Tamarind, Tapioca, Tea and Teak.

SK/BS
(Release ID :45399)