A retired Gujarat Agricultural University professor has developed a software that can reduce the requirement for water and energy for different crops by nearly 50 per cent. 

The Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) has conducted studies with the software developed by Dr S Raman for micro-irrigation, particularly drip.

Raman told businessline that in one of the studies carried out by TNAU on turmeric at Velliangadu village in Coimbatore district’s Karamadai block, the crop was irrigated for only 30-45 minutes in a day instead of two hours in two days. 

Scheduling irrigation

The crop experienced good growth with water being distributed evenly and there was no excess irrigation of the plants. 

In the case of a demonstration on the banana farm in the same village, the irrigation was reduced by 50 per cent and its frequency was increased to daily. The G-9 banana crop recorded a yield of 40 kg against the normal 30 kg per plant. 

Raman said he had developed the software for scheduling irrigation through micro irrigation and another for fertigation. The software works on the climatological approach of estimating the water requirement of the crops at different stages of their growth.

The requirement depends on whether they are grown in the open or greenhouse or net house conditions. “Subsequently, it will suggest the needed time of operation of the micro irrigation system depending upon the design of the system, soil type and mulch conditions,” Raman said.

Making use of the savings

The software estimates the water requirement of the crop based on district level meteorological data. It can suggest the requirement of 65-70 agricultural and horticultural field crops and orchard crops, he said.

The crop geometry also comes into play while estimating the water requirement and it suggests time to provide micro irrigation based on spacing and soil types.

It assesses the water requirement for a particular day based on the effective rainfall a region receives and can be periodicallymodified, he said. 

The usage of the software has resulted in saving water and energy and the government can divert such energy saved to other sectors, particularly industries, the former Gujarat Agricultural University professor said. 

The farmer can bring and irrigate more area and this could reduce the attacks of pests and diseases, besides managing weeds. Returns to farmers will improve as a result. 

Preventing extra expenses

Similarly, the fertigation software will be based on the recommendations made by the State Agricultural Universities and departments such as agriculture and horticulture on fertiliser requirements of crops.

It has provisions for adjusting the application of fertiliser based on soil and the crop growth stage. It takes into consideration the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium intake pattern to make stage-wise application. 

This can suggest the fertiliser requirement of 65-70 agricultural and horticultural field crops and orchard crops, Raman said, adding that there is provision for considering the nutrient savings.  

This can prevent farmers from spending on additional fertiliser applications and result in monetary savings. It will also help the Government to curb imported water soluble fertilisers to the minimum, he said.  

Farmers could be registered for the software use for a minimum payment and they can get SMS daily on their mobiles for daily irrigation and fertigation.

On the other hand, farm advisory departments or companies can make use to guide farmers. This can produce entrepreneurs at the village level, Raman said.