The practice wants to target rice cultivation in India, which is the major crop grown across India.
Rice occupies the maximum cultivable area in India and is a high water intensive crop.
This practice tries to combines System of Rice Intensification (SRI) with the application of tensiometer (water abundant)/drip irrigation (in water scarce areas). The mode of irrigation would be community-based solar pumps and this on-ground system would be well connected to a mobile based information network.
This practice tries to work on the limitations of SRI so as to make it replicable across India. Currently, SRI is limited because on farm water management and controlled water intake are challenges postulated.
Hence this proposed Best Climate Practice is a feasible and replicable way towards a water smart food production.
This practice dismantles moreover another challenge of SRI in terms of lack of available input resources as electricity, seeds, labour and organic fertilisers. With the stated mobile-based information network and the solar pumps this practice is a resilient way to sustain a good productivity in the face of climate induced changes.
Ultimately the lack of available organic manure and fertiliser is solved by the community (vermi-) compost pits.
Objectives and beneficiaries
The three proposed modules of the integrative SRI are solar pumps, tensiometers (water abundant region)/drip irrigation (water scarce region) and mobile-based information network. They aim both at short-term and long-term water conservation objectives as following:
1. The very first, which is a short-term objective is to provide small holder and marginal farmers with information through the mobile-based information network.
The information comprises:
a) early warning for weather changes, diseases or pest incidences and timing of agronomic practices according to meteorological data (in cooperation with Indian Meteorological Department, KVK´s and other agricultural forecasting sources)
b) available input sources as seeds, organic fertilisers and available labour or weeding hoes,
c) market facilities
d) crop insurance or credit access and
f) timing for nursing, transplanting, weeding and harvesting according to the weather updates is facilitated and coordinated
2. The second overall objective solves the problem of irrigation requirement. A tensiometer based irrigation or drip irrigation are termed as precision irrigation and they save water and improves on farm water management in SRI.
3. Thirdly solar pumps are solving the challenge of energy stress. Hence the third objective is an environmentally and financially resilient irrigation system that makes irrigation water available and reduced the electricity footprint.
4. The larger objective or goal is to benefit the most vulnerable farmers i.e. the small and marginal farmers in India. They can benefit from:
a) an adequate and feasible soil moisture determination method that saves water and allows adopting wetting and drying recommendations in SRI,
b) a network of SRI farmers, extension personal and local opinion leaders which help to overcome uncertainties, financial aids, lack of knowledge or restricted access to other productive assets.
5. Last objective is to make the practice eco-friendly, so there is also a benefit for the environment because reduced pollution by promoting the maximum use of organic fertiliser, precision fertilisation and solar energy based irrigation ultimately prevent pollution of the environment.
Small and Marginal Farmers which form the major portion of farming community in India would be the target beneficiaries. With no discrimination of gender, age or literacy can hence overcome the constraints of insufficient access to finance, FYM/Vermicompost or available seeds (ideally high yielding & high quality indigenous seeds, that are more nutritious and resilient). Replacing the existing fuel-driven pumps with solar pumps would also improve the long term budget expenditure on the subsidies.
Strong points of the practice
As Dublin principles suggest, water could be best managed by community in a participatory way. We are recommending a community based irrigation management system.
This practice improves the networking between the users and the service providers.
In addition to this, its implementation saves capital investment in the inputs, increases yield and leads to emission abatement, all of these ultimately improves the income and hence the livelihood standard of the marginal farmers.
The solar pump irrigation system integrated with drip/tensiometer promises clean and fuel-independent water efficient irrigation water. The solar energy could be used for other purposes, specially lighting, which is a big challenge in rural India.
Expected results and benefits for climate change adaptation and mitigation
- 10% higher income because of increased yield (20%-30%)
- Seed use reduction 80% to 90%
- Water savings 40% to 50%
- Energy savings
- 2.5 tonnes CO2 emission abatement
- reduced pollution
- reduces cost/kWH is Rs. 5.30 (comparing diesel and solar based irrigation)
- informed farming community
- Participatory water management
- Improved livelihood status of small and marginal farmers
- A climate resilient agriculture system
Replicability potential of the practice
This improved SRI practice is replicable across all rice farmers in India. The system specially targets weaker farmers, tries to bring them together and improve their livelihood status as well as resilience against climate change induced impacts.
It is applicable in both water abundant (with tensiometers) and water stressed regions (drip irrigation). Drip irrigation would be equally significant for water abundant and stressed regions. However, we are explicitly suggesting tensiometers for water abundant regions because the investment in installing drip irrigation infrastructure is high and it would be a disincentive for farmers in water abundant regions.
In long-term, drip irrigation infrastructure or a water efficient system would be promoted for all regions.
[Editor's Note: All information published as submitted by the author(s). Minor edits may have been made to increase readability and understanding.]