At 157.35 million hectares, India holds the second largest agricultural land in the world. Though agriculture is one of the key contributors towards the GDP, the last few years have been witnessing a decline in this contribution of farm income owing to many reasons such as high input costs, errant weather, quality of natural resources like soil nutrients and the depleting levels of water.
Water scarcity is now an ever present concern for millions of farmers in India who rely on stable sources of groundwater to cultivate crops outside of the monsoon season. India uses 80% of its surface water for irrigation for agriculture alone, which is more than any other sector. Much of this water is applied inefficiently using flood irrigation, which is the prevailing irrigation practice among farmers in India. This result in considerable loss of water – around 60% of water applied – in the form of surface run off, percolation and bare soil evaporation that does not contribute to any increases in yield. Thus many marginal farmers are forced to spend a disproportionate amount on pumping water or make do with lower yields when water is not available.
Drip irrigation is one time tested technique that can help save water usage and thus saving energy required for pumping as well increase productivity. Thus, motivating and helping farmers to adopt drip irrigation is one of the ways to reduce the usage of water and contribute to increasing farm productivity.
The story narrates an industrial automation –led indirect- approach towards increasing the acceptance of drip irrigation amongst farmers by enabling the machine builders produce better equipment which meet and answer many critical issues acting as a deterrents in making the technology reach the farmers at large.
While researching more on the sector and the technology, the team identified the key challenges acting as deterrents for the customer and machine builders at large in producing the right machines which have a better rate of acceptance by the end users and truly help the farmers reap the benefits of the drip irrigation technology.