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Solar irrigation project a game-changer

Dera Fateh Singh (Kurukshetra) :

A progressive farmer, Karan Jit Singh Chatha, sees a pilot project of the Haryana Government to promote drip irrigation through the solar-based micro-irrigation system as a potential game-changer for water conservation.

Last year, Chatha volunteered to give 6 acres near Pehowa to the Command Area Development Authority (CADA) for research and development for the implementation of its indigenously developed water-efficient technology.

Under the guidance of CADA and its associated agencies, Chatha is simultaneously experimenting growing paddy on 3 acres using drip and sprinkler irrigation and controlled flooding of fields at one site on a 3-acre land.

Canal water is being stored in a large pool. Solar panels installed in the fields and the power generated has been linked to a power grid through separate feeder lines.

Electricity supply from the grid is reverted to the fields to energise the micro-irrigation system. In case of power breakdown or power supply fluctuations, the required water pressure to irrigate fields remains steady.

“The field study says drip irrigation in paddy is possible and it saves more than 42 per cent water than in conventional farming,” said Chatha.

Last year, the per acre yield of popular paddy variety PR-126 was 26 quintals at Chatha’s drip-irrigated fields and it was 5 quintals less than the average yield.

However, the fields managed directly by CADA recorded 12 per cent higher production in the drip-irrigated than flood irrigated fields.

“The low yield was expected due to various factors associated in maiden experimentation on the field. But this year, I am expecting a better production. The state should rework on the flawed 85 per cent subsidy to promote drip irrigation as every crop has different requirement,” he said.

To further popularise drip irrigation, on-the-spot cash incentive should be adopted, as a majority of farmers may not prefer direct benefit transfer (DBT), said Chatha.

Project coordinator and CADA executive engineer Neeraj Sharma said the pilot project was launched last year under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) to ensure water supply to every farm.

It was first of its kind project in the country for which Niti Aayog signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with CADA in November last for pan-India promotion of the solar-based micro-irrigation project.

Saves 42% water

In the project, canal water is stored in a large pool and solar panels installed in the fields and the power generated are linked to a power grid. Power supply from the grid is reverted to the fields to energise the micro-irrigation system. In case of power breakdown or power supply fluctuation, the required water pressure to irrigate fields remains steady. Studies say drip irrigation in paddy is possible and it saves more than 42 per cent water than conventional farming.

Can Solar Energy give a boost to Farming?

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