An affordable and farmer-friendly micro-irrigation system to conserve water in Kerala
Properly designed drip and sprinkler systems typically achieve highly efficient use of water. However, the large-scale adoption by farmers of a drip or sprinkler system is constrained by factors such as the sophisticated design of components, frequent clogging of emitters and high initial costs.
In order to develop an affordable, dependable, simple and farmer-friendly technology, a low-cost micro-sprinkler head was developed at the Kerala Agricultural University between April 2004 and March 2007. This was named as the Kerala Agricultural University Micro-irrigation system (KAUMS).
ROLE OF STAKEHOLDERS
The project was executed under an ICAR, All India Coordinated Research Project (Water Management) at the Agronomic Research Station, Chalakudy of KAU. The stakeholders included officials, farmers, students, research scholars, and others working in relevant fields. Micro-sprinkler irrigation for efficient use of water.
APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
In a low-cost micro-sprinkler head, water is delivered through a network of main pipes, sub-mains, and laterals, and falls as a circular spray through this micro-sprinkler heads. A simple, clog-free design ensures the complete irrigation of the basin area of the crop.
In the model developed at the Agronomic Research Station, the rotating sprinkler head was made of a small piece of 12 mm/8 mm diameter good quality LDPE pipe, plugged at both ends. It was provided with 1 mm diameter nozzles 5 mm away from both ends on opposite sides. A 6mm diameter microtube was attached to the sprinkler head unit at the centre through a pin connector. The other end of the microtube could then be attached to the lateral through another pin connector. The micro-tube with the sprinkler head unit was tied to a riser pipe, fixed near the plant to be irrigated. The moment of couple constituted by the stream coming out of the nozzles caused the emitter to rotate while in operation.
The performance of these sprinkler heads was also evaluated by observing variables such as the effective wetting area, discharge rates, and water distribution patterns.
Some of the benefits of the KAU MS are as below.
• Low-cost, clog-free, farmer-friendly system that can be fabricated with locally-available materials, and installed and maintained by farmers themselves.
• Low-energy precision applicator with relatively low operating pressure, greater economy in labor as compared to sprinkler irrigation, and more economical water use.
• With proper maintenance, the system can be used for 10-12 years.
• Does not include extremely complicated design components, allowing farmers to fabricate the units themselves.
• Ensures complete wetting of the basin area and uniform distribution of water in the crop root zone.
• Facilitates application of fertilizers and herbicides, and cooling of greenhouses, poultry houses, cowsheds, etc., with minimum initial investment, running, and maintenance costs.