Karshaka Amrita Dhara-An Efficient Irrigation Control System Dedicated to India’s Farmers

Water is one of our most precious natural resources and is in increasing short supply around the world.  India is already facing severeshortages. This inadvertently has an impact on food production, as irrigation of fields consumes a significant amount of water. The National Water Policy of India states: “Water saving in irrigation use is of paramount importance. Methods like aligning cropping pattern with natural resource endowments; micro irrigation, automated irrigation operation and evaporation-transpiration reduction should be encouraged and incentivized.”

Recently Amrita Center for Cybersecurity Systems and Networks, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Amritapuri Campus, in their effort towards preserving food security under the guidance of Chancellor, Mata Amritanandamayi Amma, developed a system called Karshaka Amrita Dhara (KAD) that dramatically reduces water use in agricultural irrigation.  In a pilot project on a 4 acre mulberry farm in Periya Puthoor Village, in Tamil Nadu, this system was able to reduce the number of hours of irrigation from an average of 5 hours a day to one hour a day, thus dramatically reducing both water and electricity consumption.
Normal irrigation procedure requires manual opening and shutting of the irrigation system’s water valves, which occurs at fixed intervals on a daily basis.  This solution stands out from the standard timer-based and/or SMS-based irrigation control systems, as KAD delivers only the required amount of water. A schedule is only initiated if the saturation level is below the set threshold. For example, if there has been enough rain and the soil moisture sensors recorded saturation levels above the threshold across all areas of the farm, then the system cancels a planned schedule. If only part of the farm achieved the required saturation, then the system will irrigate only that part of the farm with saturation level below the set threshold.

KAD completely cuts out any manual intervention required to irrigate different sections of the farm. Scheduling is also flexible enough so that multi-crop cultivation with varying irrigation schedules within the same farm, using the same pump, can be achieved. KAD uses in-house developed Amrita Internet of Things Middleware as its backbone.  An indigenously built IoT Enabler (IoT Gateway) hosts both communication firmware and the irrigation control applications which control soil moisture sensors, weather stations, solenoid control units and motor control units. Control firmware in the gateway can be configured to reschedule the irrigation pattern to match the varying quantity of water required for a crop that might change with respect to its growth stages. With the deployment of KAD, i.e,. a SMART irrigation control system, the current manual process farmers use to irrigate different parts of their farm can be completely circumvented.  Technical innovations such as predicting irrigation pattern based on sensor data and taking precautionary measures to avoid loss of information due to power outage, etc., are what Amrita University believes necessary to avert acute shortages of water and food in the future.

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