With rising population, decreasing area of agricultural expansion, and a huge scarcity of water, Micro Irrigation Systems (MIS) is definitely the need of the hour. MIS refers to a family of low pressure irrigation systems that spray, mist, sprinkle and drip water. It is popularly being used as a farming tool in urban setting, arid regions, sub humid and humid zones for munched crops, row crops, gardens, orchards, nurseries, ornamental planting and green houses.
The water emitter patterns in MIS differ as per the horticulture or the agronomic requirements. Small to very small devices are used to water precise amount onto the soil surface very close to the plants or directly at the root zone of the plant. The advantages of MIS over the conventional system of irrigation are very much evident. Forty to seventy percent of water is effectively saved over the conventional method where the water is wasted mainly due to run off, evaporation and percolation. MIS assures increase in income, savings in power requirement.More over about thirty to forty percent fertilizer consumption can be easily saved as well throughFertigation via Drip Irrigation System.
The MIS industry in India is pegged at INR thirty billion in 2011 with an annual growth rate of agricultural land using MIS at about nineteen percent. Global penetration of MIS is 14% while in India, it is only 4%.
Only about 3.5 million hectares of total area under Micro Irrigation has been achieved so far and targeted to achieve 17 million hectares by the end of the 11th five year plan. 2012. Domestic and the foreign players have been participating in this rapidly growing market as demand of MIS is expected to grow due to huge opportunity from un-irrigated areas. MIS is best suited for horticulture crops such as grapes, banana, guava, cash crops such as sugar cane. The 11th Five year plan has proposed to invest INR Rs 4.2 B on horticulture crops.
Fertilizer saving through MIS is expected to reduce the fertilizer subsidy burden on the Government. Under Micro irrigation, water soluble fertilizers are catered directly to the roof zone of the plant through Fertigation as they are better when compared to traditional fertilizers. Using MIS, all nutrients are supplied as one solution to the plant providing better root absorption and higher yields. It allows crops to be grown on marginal lands, such as rocky soil where accurate control and management of water and fertilizer are required.
With the challenge of a high initial cost of setting up MIS project, the ever increasing scarcity of water, depleting water table and decrease in monsoons each year, the government has introduced two major programs. These are the Bharat Nirman Plan and the AIBP or the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Plan which were set up by the Government of India to offer subsidies up to 50% for farmers to install MIS in their farm lands. Both these plans were hugely successful with some states such as Maharashtra and Gujarat witnessing a significant increase in crop output and substantial savings accruing to the farmers. This has led the Government –both Central and State – to introduce new schemes to bring more lands under MIS.
Tamilnadu State Government under the dynamic leadership of Ms Jayalalitha has announced a slew of measures to promote modern agricultural practices in the state.One such program is to provide 100% subsidies to small and medium farmers to install MIS on their farm lands and to bring a total area of 87000 hectares under MIS within the next 5 years. With such support being offered by the state government and the dire need to implement MIS by Farmers for various economic benefits, Micro Irrigation Industry is poised to witness a major growth in the state of Tamilnadu.