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Sensor-Based Irrigation Systems in Goa, India

Image credit: Press Information Bureau

The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), in collaboration with the National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Goa, has developed a sensor-based irrigation system for farmers at Sal River and Nauta Lake in Goa. The system uses bank filtration technology and can be controlled through a mobile application or the web.

According to a press release, the system has prevented wastage of water in the area and made it easy for farmers to monitor the irrigation remotely. The sensors can start and stop water motors depending on the moisture value of the soil. This process prevents water erosion and maintains the soil quality throughout the field. The system has saved time, especially for the daily wage farmers giving them freedom and flexibility to sell their harvest in the market. It has reduced manual work and helped the farmers financially as well, the release claimed.

Using riverbank filtration (RBF) technology, the system can provide clean water for irrigation. RBF operates by extracting water from wells located near rivers or lakes. As the river water infiltrates into and passes through the riverbed sediments, contaminants like bacteria and toxic metals are removed by overlapping biological, physical, and chemical processes. The government has installed affordable RBF wells to treat polluted water in the two water bodies.

The technology is powered by renewable energy resources (solar-powered pumps) to provide clean water to farmers in off-the-grid areas. Water, with improved quality parameters such as reduced turbidity and bacterial load, supplied through a systematic pipeline system, has helped farmers to obtain better crop production. The project presents a model of sustainability that can educate communities with small landholdings, which are unique to Goa. RBF technology offers an inexpensive means to remove large amounts of contaminants, including suspended particles and attenuation of microbes, and essentially provides improved water quality to the farmer’s community to fulfil their irrigation requirements.

The government organised a dissemination workshop where relevant stakeholders, researchers, policymakers, and farmers learnt about the technology and could explore new collaborations for future developments.

The share of agriculture and allied sectors in gross value added (GVA) of the country in 2020-21 was 20.2%. The government has been pushing to digitise the agricultural sector by launching online databases and marketplaces to improve crop yield and farmer incomes. Public educational institutes are working to deploy tech-based solutions in farming equipment. Last December, the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur (IIT-Kanpur) developed a wireless portable soil testing device that can detect soil health in 90 seconds through an embedded mobile application.

As OpenGov Asia reported, the device requires 5 grams of a dry soil sample to detect macronutrients present in the soil. Once the soil is added to the 5cm-long cylindrical-shaped device, it connects itself with the user’s smartphone through Bluetooth and analyses the soil. After the analysis, the results appear on the screen in a soil health report accessible on the application’s cloud service with a unique ID. The device’s user interface is available in local languages. It can test up to 100,000 soil test samples, the highest testing capability of a device.

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