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Micro Irrigation Types, and Suitable Crops

Micro Irrigation Types, and Suitable Crops

Introduction to Micro Irrigation

What is micro irrigation? Well, it is nothing but uniform and continuous water application. In Micro Irrigation, water is applied in little amounts continuously. This application is done on both the upper and lower levels of the surface of the soil in the form of emitters to give very small streams of water to the plants.

Suitable crops for Micro Irrigation:

This is most suitable for vegetables, soft fruits, vine crops. More than one emitter will be given to each plant. This irrigation is done on crops which have high value because of the capital cost of the micro irrigation system and its instalment.

Suitable slopes for Micro Irrigation:

Micro Irrigation can be used for any kind of slopes. The crops will be cultivated in contour lines and the pipes which provide water to the crops will also be installed in the same line. This is being done in order to reduce the emitter discharge modifications if there is any change in the height of the land.

Suitable soils for Micro irrigation:

The method of micro irrigation will be suitable for any number of soils. When coming to clay soils, there is a requirement for slow application of water so that the pounding of surface water can be avoided. On the soils which are sandy, the emitter discharge rates should be high so that the wetting of soil will be adequate.

Suitable water for Micro Irrigation:

  • With the micro-irrigation, the emitters will be blocked sometimes. As the emitters have tiny waterways which would be 2 mm in diameter, they get blocked easily if the water used for irrigation is not a clean one. So the irrigation water should be clean from all the sediments. If clean water is not ensured, then they should make sure that the filtration of water is done before using them for irrigation.
  • There is a chance for blockages even if the water has any sort of algae, deposits of fertilizers and chemicals like calcium or iron dissolved. Even if the filtration removes most of the sediments, before using the water for micro-irrigation, it is essential to get the problem solved by consulting an engineer with very good experience or a dealer who works on equipment.
  • Micro-irrigation is Drip irrigation is particularly suitable for water of poor quality (saline water).  The process of dripping water onto individual plants  can save well amount of water. This is very much beneficial in areas where there is a water problem..

Benefits of Micro irrigation

  • Micro Irrigation is a method which is easy to maintain and at the same time cheap in cost.
  • This method if irrigation is also environmentally friendly
  • The drip irrigation method will save 80% of the water used and the overhead sprinkler irrigation will save up to 50% of water used for irrigation.
  • As the water will be delivered to the roots, the evaporation of water, loss of water because of wind will be reduced.
  • There would be a lot of improvement in the uniformity of crops, quality of crops. The crops get matured earlier.
  • The yield gets increased by 60%.
  • The leaf spot diseases can be prevented by using this method of irrigation as the leaves will be dry.

Types of Micro Irrigation:

Drip Irrigation

This is the latest commercial method used for application of water to the crops. Emitters and applicators are used in this method to apply the water slowly and more often. These will be fitted at a few selected spots through the delivery lines. The emitters in this system work to remove pressure from the system which distributes the water. This is done by using orifices, or flow paths which are long. This will allow the water to get discharged in limited levels. The emitters will be kept on the ground generally. The water, which will be discharged or emitted will move through the soil by dissolving and absorbing it.

Read: Drip irrigation System Complete Guide.

Spray Irrigation

In Spray irrigation, the water which is pressurized will be sprinkled on the plants. This is also called Sprinkler irrigation. This method is used in many parts across the globe. This can be followed in farms of all sizes. You can also keep a sprinkler at home to keep your garden green and you can also go for commercial cropping for the irrigation of crops.

The water is applied by using a small spray on the surface of the soil. The water which is sprayed or sprinkled will move through the air and will help in its aim to distribute the water to the plants. There are two sprayers used in this irrigation method. One is Micro-sprayer and the other is a micro – sprinkler. Micro sprayers have the art of flow ranging from 18 to 150 l/h and the micro-sprinklers which rotate will have the rate of flow ranging from 95 to 290 l/h.

The water wheel and circle irrigation systems will have metal frames. The water tube will be held to these metal frames in the fields. The electric motors will move the frames in the circle through the field. The water depth can be determined by the travel rate of the centre-pivot system. The single centre-pivot systems are about 1200 to 1350 feet in terms of length and they cover up to 120 acres of circular area. In the systems which have high pressure, there will be large water guns throughout the tube.

An alternative to water guns which have high pressure is the sprinkler system which has low pressure. The water in the sprinkler system will be sprinkled in the downward direction directly onto the plants rather than into the air. So the systems which have low pressure like sprinkler systems are highly beneficial and efficient as they cause less evaporation of water.

The water source for this method is different from other methods. This method also treats wastewater and uses it. This will reduce the usage of fresh water, which is completely friendly to the environment in terms of water saving. The wastewater which is treated can be sprayed on ornamental crops, but it seems like using treated wastewater is banned in agriculture. Hence water from reservoirs, lakes, streams and wells can be encouraged.

Subsurface System

This is a method in which the emitters are used to apply the water slowly below the surface of the soil. These types of systems can be used in the installations which are permanent or semi-permanent.

This method has a system whose pressure is low and efficiency is high. This uses the drip tubes which are buried in order to meet the water requirements of the crop. This has become a part of integrated agriculture. This is a system which is adaptable and also provides light irrigations more often. This method of irrigation is used in areas where there is less supply of water. The operations conducted at the farm will be free from all the obstructions which occur with other systems of irrigation. The water is applied below the soil surface on this method which is why there would be no crusting, soil erosion, soil run-off, etc. If the system has the perfect size with good maintenance,  then the application of water will be more uniform and highly efficient. The movement of water in this system will be in all directions.

This system helps a lot in water saving and improvement of yields. This is done by preventing the water evaporation over the soil surface and decreasing the diseases occurred by weeds. As the water is applied directly to the roots where most of the weeds start growing, the germination will not take place in the seeds of weed and hence reduces its pressure on the original commercial crops.

Bubbler System

Bibbler system is a system of micro irrigation where the application of water is done to the surface of the soil in a tiny stream or in the form of a fountain. The rate of discharge in the bubbler system is more than that of the subsurface systems and drip systems. But it is not more than 220 l/h. As the rate of water emission is more than the rate of infiltration of the soil, then there would be the requirement of a small basin. This is required to regulate the water flow. These types of systems are required when the water flow should be large and there is very less time for irrigation.

Advantages of Drip Irrigation:

  • The use of the water, which is available will be to the maximum.
  • There would be no water available for the germination of weed seeds.
  • The yield will be very high.
  • Utilization of fertilizers will be highly efficient.
  • The growth of weeds will be reduced and prevents them drastically.
  • The fertilizers will not run-off into the groundwater.
  • The evaporation of water reduces.

Disadvantages of Drip Irrigation:

  • Clogging should not occur in this process. So farmers should be very careful about the water, which is used.
  • The distribution of moisture is a big drawback.
  • There would be problems with the salinity of the water.
  • The cost of equipment and their instalments will be high.
  • The farmers should have good skill and knowledge about the design and execution.

Read: Frequently Asked Questions About Irrigation.

Micro Irrigation potential in India:

In India, over 90% of water is consumed by farming. Compared to other farmings, micro irrigation consumes less water.

Out of 70 million  hectares of total agricultural land in India, only 8 million hectares are under micro irrigation.

Due to drought and no sufficient rains, the subsidy which is given for micro irrigation has fallen from 1100 crores to 1000 crores. So with 1000 crores, it is hard to bring the entire agricultural land in India under micro irrigation and it takes nearly hundred years to achieve that.

By using a drip irrigation system and sprinkler systems, the use of water is saved from 15% to 50%. These methods also reduced the use of fertilizers and is has reduced to 30% and the energy saving in this method is up to 31%.

Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh are the states which contribute to the maximum micro irrigation in the country.

From the year 2014 to the year 2016, the budgets which would be given to micro irrigation has reduced to 30% and the subsidies for installing the systems have been reduced from 50% to 30%.

After the campaign of Prime minister Narendra Modi to increase the efficiency of water use with taglines more crop per drop, there were methods which involve direct cash transfer to the farmers to promote the micro irrigation widely. The micro irrigation has been made mandatory for crops like sugarcane.

Even the studies say that if equipment is provided by the companies which prepare the equipment required for micro irrigation, the interest on subsidies can be availed and moreover the dependency on subsidies will be decreased.

Read: Sugar Cultivation.

Last Updated: December 30, 2018
Author: Jagdish


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