Sensors for precision in crop water management

An agriculture university working on developing sensors to achieve precision in releasing the right amount of water required for the proper growth of crops.

The researchers at the Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University are hopeful that the sensors, once installed in the soil, would help in checking wastage of water and enhance the crop productivity.

The water management is mainly about how much water to supply, when to supply and how best to supply, the university's vice chancellor, told V Praveen Rao.

He said so far, there has been a "critical growth stage approach" without quantifying the water in a better way.

"We are developing sensors which would be installed in the soil and continuously provide information about the amount of soil moisture that is available for the crop, whether the crop is facing stress, whether an excess moisture is there,"

"So, it will enable us to not only improve the productivity, but also to cut down wastage. It also aids in reducing pollution, because when you give excess water, there will be leeching of nutrients into the water bodies," he said.

The sensors would help in achieving precision in water management, protection of environment, enhancing productivity (of the crop) and improving water productivity, Rao said.

The water technology centre of the university and the water resources division of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Bombay are involved in the research which started about two years ago, he said.

"They (sensors) will send signals. We have water metres. When we connect to them, they will provide us the knowledge of precisely how much water is there in each layer of the soil," the vice chancellor said.

"The amount of water available in the crop root zone depth will be provided by this (sensor). Based on that, we will be able to know what is the deficiency and how much water to release and when to release," he said.

Rao said it may take one or two years for the final product to be ready.

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