Cloud-based Irrigation Could Double India’s Crop Yield and Halve Water Use

India-Farm-Irrigation
At the trial farm in Tamil Nadu, eight vegetable crops have been farmed using the SCORRES precision irrigation system.

A cloud-based, micro-irrigation system tested on a farm in India has cut water use by up to 80%  and doubled the crop yield, and could relieve the environmental stress that agriculture places on India’s natural resources.

The system, which was developed by scientists at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, combines a highly localized weather forecast with local know-how on irrigation needs and soil conditions and has been trialed as part of the Innovate UK-funded Smart Control of Rural Renewable Energy and Storage (SCORRES) project.

Reducing water consumption and improving irrigation techniques in India is vital: currently, 600 million people are at high risk of surface water supply disruption. Agriculture accounts for 90% of India’s freshwater withdrawal, 18% of total electricity, and 15% of total diesel use. Fifty four percent of India faces extremely high water stress, and farmers are increasingly indebted due to the volatility of crop yields and prices.

At the trial farm in Tamil Nadu, eight vegetable crops have been farmed using the SCORRES precision irrigation system: lady’s fingers, lettuce, basil, basella, pumpkin, corn, rocket, and long beans.

Local farmers’ knowledge on irrigation and soil conditions for each of these crops are scheduled onto the cloud-based system. SCORRES refines the irrigation schedule by using its highly accurate local weather forecast, soil moisture conditions, evaporation modelling and grid outage information to continually adapt the schedule and ensure the crops receive exactly the right volume of water, at the exact time that they need it.

Professor Eddie Owens, director of Heriot-Watt University’s Energy Academy and leader of the SCORRES project, said: “We tested eight crops with our precision irrigation system, and had control beds that were manually irrigated. The results of our initial trials were extremely encouraging.

“Our irrigation system reduced water and energy use by up to 80%, and in some of the trials the crop yield doubled, enabling farmers to grow bigger vegetables and fruits, faster.

“These results are extremely encouraging and have the potential to create a more resource efficient and sustainable future for the global agricultural sector. A next step will be to expand our trial across India and into China.”

Martin Scherfler from Auroville Consulting, a SCORRES partner, oversaw the installation of the irrigation system and has been monitoring the field trials in Tamil Nadu.

Martin said: “Existing irrigation control systems in India are typically manual, or rely on time clocks that have a lack of monitoring oversight.

“Additionally, heavy subsidies and, in some states, even free electricity for the agricultural sector in India has prohibited farmers from investing in solar pumps. Reducing pumping demands through precision irrigation will make solar pumps more financially competitive for farmers.

“This project removes the need for costly hardware, and creates a more affordable, cloud-based solution for smart irrigation.

“Indian farmers are enthusiastic about using the cloud and digital devices to improve their farming, and have worked with us to make this trial a success: their knowledge has been fundamental in developing the model.”

The SCORRES project is funded by Innovate UK and led by Heriot-Watt University, with partners Auraventi.com, Auroville Consulting, Findhorn Foundation College, and CSR Auroville Centre for Scientific Research.

The project recently won the Rushlight Water Management Award and the Rushlight Innovation Award at a ceremony hosted at the Royal Geographical Society in London.

For more information, visit: www.scorres.macs.hw.ac.uk.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

Asia

China Pesticide Export Workshop
Asia

China Pesticide Exporting Workshop Highlights Price Trends, Supply Strategies

China is a major pesticide producer and exporter. It provides abundant pesticides ranging from herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, plant growth regulators

India Farming
Asia

India Aims to Deliver Groundbreaking Agricultural Blockchain

It’s become a joke in some circles. Just cash in by inventing a blockchain for something. A blockchain for dentists?

Sorghum
Asia

China Launches Dumping Probe into U.S. Sorghum Imports Amid Rising Trade Tension

China has launched an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation into imports of sorghum from the United States, the Ministry of Commerce

STK-Timorex-Gold
Asia

Stockton Group: Chinese Regulation Changes a Boon for Biopesticides

“It’s known that in China when the government decides something it happens fast,” says Guy Elitzur, CEO of Stockton Group, a

HLB-Citrus-Greening-Yellow-Dragon-Photo-Hilda-Gomez-USDA
Asia

Chinese Farmers Fight Against Global “Citrus Killer”

Blood orange growers in the southern Chinese city of Lianjiang have long ditched chemical fertilizers, according to an article on

India-farm-Photo-Hindustan-Times
Asia

Study: Weeds Cause Annual Crop Loss of $11 Billion in India

Weeds lead to India losing an average of $11 billion each year in 10 major crops, according to a study,

Asia

China: Cheap American Grain is Hurting our Farmers

Less than two weeks after President Trump slapped new tariffs on imports of solar panels and washing machines, China has

India-farmers
Asia

Budget 2018: What it Means for Indian Agriculture

Amid several challenges such as rising crude prices, uncertainty on revenue collections post GST, upcoming elections, desire to revive the

AgroStar
Asia

Embracing the Disruptive Forces Changing the Crop Protection Industry

The tools of crop protection continue to evolve. Researchers build on the discoveries of the past developing new formulations and

make-in-India-logo
Asia

Crop Protection Chemicals: A Regulatory Revolution is Underway in India

As the fourth largest producer of agrichemicals globally, India has moved forward by shifting away from its traditional regulatory regimes

Asia

India: Agrochem Companies Hope for Higher Growth in Q3

Agrochemical firms hope for a better performance in the third quarter of this financial year than in the previous two

Asia

CAC Crop Protection Show Continues to Expand

China’s agrichemical industry continues to deal with strict environmental regulations, which have impacted sourcing around the world. CAC 2018 gives

Agrichemicals

Global Crop Protection Market: Overcoming Challenges and Finding Opportunity in 2018

The end of the old year and start of the new is a natural time to reflect on where we’ve

china-farm-agriculture
Asia

Why China Needs Bigger Farms

Communist countries have always liked model workers, according to an article on TheEconomist.com. Zhang Xinsheng is China’s latest farmer to

Asia

Indian Crop Care Chief: Budget Must Focus on Farm Exports

The Crop Care Federation of India has urged the Centre to focus on increasing the country’s agriculture exports by facilitating

wheat-field
Africa/Middle East

Changing the Narrative: It’s Not Just About Yield

For years now when someone outside the industry asks what I do, I give them the “elevator speech,” the 30-second

Aarav-Unmanned-Systems-team
Asia

12 Indian Agritech Startups to Watch Out For in 2018

Farming is a profession of hope. And India holds the record for the second-largest agricultural land in the world, with

China-Soy-Shipments
Asia

U.S. to Tighten Standard for Soy Shipped to China

U.S. officials will impose stricter quality controls on exports of soybeans headed to China in response to a request from

Asia

ICAR: Indian Farming Needs Tech Revolution to Ensure Food Security

If food security needs to be ensured in India, there must be a technological revolution in agriculture, director of Indian

Latest News

Asia

China Pesticide Exporting Workshop Highlights Price Trends, Supply Strategies

China is a major pesticide producer and exporter. It provides abundant pesticides ranging from herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, plant growth regulators

Europe

EU’s Race to Zero Tolerance Risks Global Trade and Farmer Livelihoods

Whether it’s almonds from the United States, cocoa from Ghana, or rice from India, we enjoy eating good food from

Europe

Staphyt Opens New Regulatory Office and Trial Site in Austria

The regulatory division of the Staphyt Group (Staphyt Regulatory) specializes in regulatory consulting (agrochemicals, biocides, etc.) and supports manufacturers in

Africa/Middle East

Sub-Saharan Africa: Time for a Paradigm Shift to Sustainable Farming Practices

Farming in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has remained fairly conventional over the years and involves intensive use of synthetic chemicals and

Asia

India Aims to Deliver Groundbreaking Agricultural Blockchain

It’s become a joke in some circles. Just cash in by inventing a blockchain for something. A blockchain for dentists?