There is an urgent need to increase the existing water use efficiency in Indian agriculture, mainly due to the increasing demand for water from different sectors and the rapid decline of the available potential of water. Water use efficiency under the flood method of irrigation (FMI), predominantly practised in India, is very low owing to enormous losses in distribution and evaporation. The drip method of irrigation (DMI) introduced recently helps to increase water use efficiency significantly, besides increasing the productivity of crops. However, not many studies are available focusing on the effectiveness of the drip method of irrigation in the context of the sustainable use of irrigation water. An attempt is made in this paper to bring out the importance of the drip method of irrigation in the sustainable use of irrigation water using both primary and secondary level information. The results of experimental station data show that water saving from DMI varies from 12% to 84% per hectare for different crops besides increasing the productivity of crops. The farm level data do confirm that DMI helps to save water by 29% for bananas and 37% for grapes per hectare over FMI in addition to substantial increases in productivity. The core and net potential areas of DMI are estimated to be 51.42 million hectares (mha) and 21.27 mha, respectively, for the country as a whole. The achievable total saving of water, by utilising the net potential area of DMI, is estimated to be about 11.271 million ha m. From the saving of water, an additional irrigated area of 11.22 mha under FMI or 24.12 mha under DMI can be created.
Research Article|April 01 2004