The use of sprinklers, a micro-irrigation technique, reduces the overexploitation of groundwater, which occurs with the inefficient use of surface water. In the district of Nuh, the surface and groundwater resources are poor and have become a major challenge to the growth of agriculture. The major source of irrigation is the tube well, and the irrigation method is mostly flood/surface irrigation, which increases groundwater exploitation. Normal rainfall in the district is deficient 514 mm (CGWB, 2007), thereby recharging the depleted groundwater level is insufficient. Against this backdrop, it is essential to manage groundwater efficiently by adopting micro-irrigation systems like drip or sprinkler irrigation. This case study describes the benefits received from installation of mini sprinkler by Sumer Singh by Sehgal Foundation. The project, Gram Uday (supported by Publicis Sapient India) promotes use of modern agriculture practices. Under water conservation theme Gram Uday promotes usage of mini sprinklers by clearly communicating its benefits in a water-deficit geography like Nuh to small scale farmers like Sumer.
Sumer Singh is a fifty year old farmer from village Kalarpuri, block Taoru of Nuh district, Haryana. During 2018, he got support to install a mini sprinkler as part of the Gram Uday Project. He owns approximately four acres of land and leases an additional 1.5 acres. The major crops he grows are wheat, mustard, pearl millet and vegetables such as spinach and tomatoes. Sumer seems enthusiastic about knowing the most advanced practices in farming. He said he tries to attend all the meetings organized by Sehgal Foundation in his village, especially those on agricultural issues. He has a wife and a high school graduate son and all three are engaged in farming.
Describing his experiences in irrigation, Sumer said that with his advancing age, he was finding it increasingly difficult to put in the labour for cultivation. For example, for cultivating wheat, he generally irrigated through open or flood irrigation. For this kind of irrigation, he used to make twenty-five to thirty flood beds in one-acre of land, which required physical labor and a heavy cost. He used to spend INR 1,000 toward the labor for making the channels in the field for water flow. He added that in flood irrigation, he had to block some channels in between irrigations so that water could flow to other channels. The same action was repeated three to four times to complete one round of irrigation. But the mini sprinkler has made his life easy, as there are seven lines in the mini sprinkler and each line has eight nozzles, which easily irrigates one acre of land. It now takes barely four or five hours to irrigate one acre of land whereas with the old method it used to take at least eight to twelve hours to complete a one-time irrigation. He happily said that the installation of the mini sprinkler has saved him six to seven hours for each time he needs to irrigate and has also saved the labour cost he used to spend on making channels. Furthermore, with the mini sprinkler water falls on the crop as natural rainfall, thereby protecting the crop from damage and improving productivity.
Noting additional benefits, Sumer said that irrigation with the mini sprinkler maintains the soil moisture. His yield rate with wheat has increased by two quintals (200kgs). Explaining the reason for increasing yield, he said that mini sprinkler irrigation increased the area of cultivation since some areas that were usually left uncultivated due to the making of channels are now being utilized.
This particular case study has established the many benefits of a mini sprinkler, which include increase in the area of cultivation, optimal use of water, reduction in labour cost and labour time. All of these not only provide an overall saving in the cost of irrigation and an improvement in the yield rates that benefit farmers but also help in achieving the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 2 – End Hunger.
(Susmita Guru is senior social scientist and Amba Mukherjee is senior research associate, Research, Monitoring and Evaluation at S M Sehgal Foundation)