Answer Synopsis 07/12/2020

Question :Micro irrigation methods would not only lead to increased productivity but also conservation of water. Enumerating the different methods of micro irrigation, identify the bottlenecks in their implementation and benefits that can accrue once they are implemented.

Structure of the answer

  • Enumerate different methods of micro irrigation.
  • Mention the bottlenecks in their implementation.
  • Benefits of micro-irrigation.


A low pressure irrigation system that spray, mist, sprinkle or drip – is called as Micro Irrigation System. The term “micro-irrigation” means – a family of irrigation systems that apply water through small devices. These devices deliver water onto the soil surface very near the plant or below the soil surface directly into the plant root zone.
Although water is one of India’s most scarce natural resources, India uses 2 to 4 times more water to produce a unit of major food crop than does China and Brazil. Hence, it is imperative that the country focus on improving the efficiency of water use in agriculture.

Types of micro-irrigation

Bottlenecks of implementing micro-irrigation

  1. The high initial cost of purchase and the skill required for maintenance.
  2. Soil particles, algae, or mineral precipitates can clog the emission devices.
  3. Until now micro-irrigation techniques, owing to high fixed costs of adoption, have mostly been used for high value crops.
  4. Ease of use/access to field is a problem with micro-irrigation systems.
  5. Electricity: Uninterrupted availability of electric power is required.
  6. Steady decline of landholding and farm income make it miserable for them to afford it.
  7. Maintenance is a constant headache.
  8. Per capita availability of water is reducing progressively owing to increasing population.

Benefits of micro-irrigation

  • Water Savings: By reducing loss through evaporation, deep percolation and run off.
  • Leads to energy savings as it requires a smaller power unit and consumes less energy. It needs only a small water supply source and not a continuous one like a canal or a wasteful one like pump.
  • Water soluble fertilizers are supplied directly to the roots of the plant and hence there is less wastage.
  • Studies have shown yields of crops also went up – up to 45 percent in wheat, 20 per cent in gram and 40 percent in soybean. The resulting improvement in net farm incomes is substantial.
  • Lower consumption of fertilizers.
  • Weed and disease reduction.
  • Precision farming is a boon.
  • Increased irrigation efficiency

Way Forward

Irrigation investments must shift to adopting technologies like sprinkler and drip irrigation and rainwater harvesting (leveraging labor available under the MGNREGS where possible).
In order to facilitate this shift, the new irrigation technologies need to be accorded “infrastructure lending” status (currently accorded to canal irrigation) and both the centre and states need to increase public spending for micro irrigation.

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