Smart irrigation using IoT and AI
Since irrigation is predicted to stay a dominant utilizer of water, irrigation in India tends to consume around 84% of water at present. With this being said, it has become essential to leverage AI and IoT in an attempt to conserve water through smart irrigation. A smart system tends to play a crucial role in varied agriculture parts such as energy efficiency, smart irrigation, decision making, and many more.
Smart irrigation is an advanced approach that incorporates hardware ( IoT ), Firmware ( software on hardware ), and software ( AI - that computes the demand ) along with other inputs like plant growth stage, soil type. Our society needs to implement smart irrigation to utilize water effectively.
In states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, numerous wells can be located, each of them being used for irrigation purposes by farmers. Moreover, people tend to install a tube well at locations where there’s groundwater available in abundance.
Since this method of irrigation is quite traditional in nature, farmers in such states can benefit drastically by implementing smart irrigation practices which will help cover larger surface areas. Smart irrigation will further prevent farmers from utilizing groundwater in abundance, therefore, preventing nearby lands from drying up.
Canal irrigation is generally done in numerous parts of Haryana, UP, and Punjab - mainly in the Northern Plains of the region. There are usually two types of canal irrigation: Perennial Canals and Inundation canals. While Inundation canals are primarily utilized for irrigation during monsoons, Perennial Canals are formed by building some sort of a barrage on the perennial rivers. In India, we can see most of the canal irrigation incorporating Perennial Canals.
Drip irrigation is considered to be the most effective approach because water is directly provided to the plant’s root with the help of drippers. What’s more? It’s crucial for the soil moisture to stay at an optimum level in order to benefit the crops.
Sprinkler irrigation is another quite common irrigation method that’s practiced across numerous states in India. Similar to the name itself, sprinkler irrigation involves the use of nozzles to spray water in the air, letting it pour on the crops and plants.
A new type of irrigation ( not widely accepted ) in India. A center-pivot irrigation system is a movable pipe structure that rotates around a central pivot point connected to a water supply.
Common issues encountered with the current way of irrigation
Water is a precious resource. Irrigation consumes more than 75% of the groundwater in India. Water intensive crops like coconut and sugarcane can benefit from a smart irrigation system that can regulate water based on soil moisture content at different depths. The amount of water present in the soil affects the growth of the plants. Waterlogging can lead to rot and diseases whereas lack of water can lead to stunting and slow growth. The examples of crops that require controlled irrigation are
Irregulated irrigation can lead to plant water stress which in turn leads to slow growth and low productivity. The way irrigation is done in the current scenario doesn’t account
· weather forecast
· soil moisture at the root zone
An excess of water during irrigation causes several root related concerns
While the scarcity of water has an adverse effect on the growth and development of crops, an abundance of water can also hamper their growth. Because of an abundance of water in the soil, the water tends to accumulate on the soil’s surface. Excessive water will take the place of air in the soil’s pores, which leads to plants being unable to breathe. This results in plants not being able to respite properly.
Since there’s a shortage of air due to an abundance of water, the roots will not grow deeper into the ground but remain on a shallow surface instead. The crops will eventually fall off the ground because of their roots being unable to provide them with nutritions from the ground due to their shallow length. What’s more, the soil’s structure tends to deform.
A shortage of water in the soil leads to plant water stress
Once the plant’s roots receive a limited amount of water, they start to experience water stress. Under irrigation can cause reduced aeration, nutrient uptake, and reduced crop yield. To put it in simpler terms, a water deficit causes plant water stress. Therefore, irrigation shouldn’t be in abundance or scarce but simply be sufficient to meet the soil’s requirements.
The importance of optimum irrigation and why it is a necessity?
Optimum irrigation is a necessity since varied crops, varied growth stage of crops and soil types exist, each of which requires a specific amount of water for example, during the transplantation of saplings, might require less soil moisture whereas during the flowering and ripening stage, the plant soil moisture requirement will increase. The water holding capacity of Sandy Loam is the lowest and that is why it needs more frequent irrigation. Whereas field capacity of the clay loam is one of the highest and that is why it needs less irrigation as it can supply a sufficient amount of water required by the plant.
Field capacity and permanent wilting point
Field capacity basically refers to how much water content can remain in the soil once all the excess water pours away and the movement in the downward direction has reduced. This will generally take up to 2-3 days after irrigation. The wilting point, on the other hand, is the time when a plant begins to wilt during the day because it can’t extract more water from the soil. Keeping this in mind, optimum irrigation majorly depends on the type of soil, crop, and water availability.
But how do you measure the exact plant water requirement?
Ok, the farmer know the soil type, he knows that what stage the crop is, he can also visually see if the soil is dry or wet (superficially) but how does he know exactly how much water is required for the crop and does his actions are backed by data? Does 10-15 or even 20% of increased growth even make sense for him? Does he know when to fertigate and how to make sure that nutrient intake by the plant is maximum?
Yuktix GidaBits leverages the power of AI and IoT to benefit farmers
GidaBits is basically a smart agri-intelligence platform that leverages the power of AI and IoT to assist farmers by providing them with disease and insect forecasts. This keeps farmers notified regarding when their crops are in danger or when they are the most likely to be infected. GidaBits further offers crop-oriented irrigation advisory alongside weather forecasts to boost the quality to generate more profit.
By merging technologies like AI and IoT and introducing them to the agriculture industry, farmers can measure the moisture of the soil accurately with minimum effort. Utilizing IoT for water management purposes alongside smart irrigation has always been a primary objective for farmers to achieve for numerous years. Smart irrigation controls and makes sure that plants and crops get their required dosage while preventing any water waste and efficient crop yield.
In our next blog, we will discuss in detail about how Yuktix GidaBits help farmer manage and schedule his irrigation.