The agricultural sector consumes 70% of the total water supply. Freshwater supply is limited — just 2.5% to put it in figures, and most of it is used up for agricultural activities. Groundwater depletion is a threat to global food security. Also, the outflow is much faster than inflow; around 245 billion cubic meters of groundwater is consumed in India annually, and 90% goes to agriculture. The picture is way bleaker than it appears to the naked eye, and the government realises it. Consumption is on the soil; with that, there will be more stress on agricultural land and freshwater. Hence, backed by technology in agriculture, farmers are now implementing advanced processes to conserve water, thereby making sustainable agriculture possible soon.
Before discussing the ways farmers are conserving water to promote agricultural sustainability, let us get acquainted with the existing issues first.
When it comes to agriculture, smallholding farmers suffer the most. Continued reliance on seasonal cycles has already ruined several harvests. With global climate change, calamities like floods and droughts are becoming more intense with every season. In fact, almost a third of all disaster losses are related to agricultural sectors. Some states like Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and many more remain at the receiving end every year.
This also hampers the overall economy of the agricultural sector. Farmers end up with around 20%-30% revenue losses each harvest. To improve this situation, the government made efforts to come up with irrigation canals. However, several glaring drawbacks are looming around here as well.
Access to adequate water supply and know-how, like the use of technology in agriculture for effective water conservation, is still difficult for the majority of the farmers. Consequently, harvest suffers immensely, and so does the GDP.
And given the diversity of India, one unified plan does not solve the purpose.
That said, in the words of Zig Ziglar,
‘One small positive thought can change your whole day.’
And thankfully, a lot is happening in terms of positive activities to fuel sustainable agriculture and the use of technology in agriculture for water conservation.
With the infusion of several means of water conservation, farmers are now successfully executing better crop cycles.
With this simple yet effective technique, farmers can store excess rainwater for further usage. Hence, farmers can not only ensure water adequacy throughout the yield but also effectively recharge groundwater levels to deal with rapid depletion.
The method is practised in drought-prone regions of the country and where rainfall is aplenty to aid groundwater recharge.
A few states like Rajasthan, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and several others have benefitted from this method, and many more states are adopting this water conservation technique on a large scale.
The use of technology in agriculture has been highly potent and fruitful when it comes to water conservation. AgTech leaders, like CropIn, have come up with practical solutions to prevent excess water usage. For example, one can schedule irrigation plans based on the local weather conditions and forecasts for the week.
With the availability of accurate weather predictions, SmartFarm can trigger alerts to farmers to prepare them for unexpected or delayed rainfall. Based on these alerts, they can schedule irrigation at the right time and prevent excessive irrigation, too, thus saving the already low groundwater level.
Advancements in seed technologies have resulted in resilient crop varieties that produce high yield despite tough growing conditions. In addition, crop advisories that are tailored for crop variety and the agro-climatic zone further enhance agricultural productivity.
CropIn’s farm management software allows agribusinesses to configure advisories and package of best practises based on recommendations from agronomists. These advisories and reminders for scheduled farm activities can be shared with extension agents as alerts and notifications, who can pass it on to the farmers they are working with.
This method has turned out to be highly fruitful in drought-prone regions like Rajasthan, where, with drought-tolerant crops, there has been a significant boost in yield. The alerts sent to the field officers via the SmartFarm application enable the farmers to take necessary precautions to avoid damage to the produce. This digital intervention increased the use of technology in agriculture in the region, along with taking a step towards increased revenue for the farmers.
Organic farming improves yield besides reducing the use of fertilisers. According to a Rodale Institute survey, organically-grown corn produced 31% more output during droughts than conventionally-produced corn.
Additionally, this method helps recycle water and reduces the chances of chemical fertilisers polluting the groundwater. The same Rodale Institute survey found that organic fields can charge groundwater levels by up to 20%!
Processes like eutrophication are also on the decline with increased adoption of organic farming and reduced dependence on chemical fertilisers. This also helps preserve freshwater ecosystems, thereby making agricultural development sustainable.
In recent times, the use of technology in agriculture to aid sustainable development has become prevalent. With products like SmartFarm, farmers and organisations get alerts of a possible agri-adversity in advance and have been able to conserve water better and boosted produce significantly. Monitoring all farming practises, from pre-sowing to harvest, with the farm management software also promotes better water management.
At CropIn, we build solutions that analyse pixel-level data derived from satellite imagery, IoT, and field intelligence and deliver actionable insights that boost resource efficiency and crop productivity.
Several brands have partnered with CropIn to realise their targets for sustainable agriculture. With such small but incredibly crucial steps, several lives have already been impacted for the better.
Learn how CropIn’s farm management software can help your agribusiness improve resource efficiency.