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What is Micro Irrigation?

Sonal Panse
Sonal Panse

Micro irrigation is a water-efficient method of irrigation that is being increasingly used in areas of low irrigation resources. To help with water conservation, drip irrigation and drip sprinkler systems are employed for lawn irrigation, garden irrigation, greenhouse watering and landscape irrigation. These irrigation systems are designed and installed to fit specific requirements after a careful land survey, soil and water analysis, and climate data study.

The availability of sufficient water for irrigation is one of the main issues concerning agriculturists all around the world. Overexploitation of natural water resources has led to water shortages in many areas, and the building of dams is very expensive and not practical everywhere. It is more sensible to use existing water resources in a more efficient manner and this is what micro irrigation does best.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

Also known as drip irrigation, micro irrigation was developed in the 1970s in Australia, Israel and USA. In this type of irrigation, the root zones of plants are directly watered on an as-needed basis. Small as well as large areas can be efficiently irrigated in this manner with no water wastage. That is why it is also called green irrigation.

The benefits of this irrigation system have been obvious in agriculture. Land that previously remained uncultivated for reasons of lack of water or high levels of salinity can now be put to agricultural use. As crops in large areas can be efficiently watered, fertilized and treated with pesticides, there has been an increase in crop yield. Regular irrigation leads to optimum plant growth and thereby a high quality yield. The system is also labor saving, helps reduce the use of fertilizers and pesticides, and helps to cut down energy costs.

The hardware for a micro irrigation system like drippers, valves, filters and so on can be quickly installed and customized to suit a range of crops, soil, water, climate and topography requirements. Micro irrigation systems nowadays also make use of agricultural software. To begin with, the entire system can be planned and designed on a computer, and the setting up budget established. Computer technology can next be used to analyze soil, water and climate data, and to schedule watering, fertilizing and application at the right time and in the right amount.

Once the micro irrigation system has been installed, it is easy to operate and maintain. This, together with its clear benefits to agricultural productivity, has led to a widespread increase in the use of micro irrigation by farmers. Given the importance of water conservation and high agricultural yields, governments around the world now offer financial support and subsidies to farmers to set up micro irrigation systems.

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