Indian university develops new water-conserving irrigation method

Scientists at the Hesaraghatta-based Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR) have developed a new irrigation method, which conserves even more water than drip irrigation.

The new method, developed on a small experimental plot at the institute, uses only one-tenth of the water used in drip irrigation, according to C. Aswath, principal scientist and head of IIHR's Division of Floriculture and Medicinal Plants.

Dr. Aswath, who developed the model on display at the IIHR’s National Horticulture Fair that began on Monday, told The Hindu that the institute would further test the model on a bigger plot.

“The new model is a hybrid (combined) version of two different hydroponics methods of nutrient film technology (NFT) and wick system,” he explained.

“The main disadvantage of drip irrigation is that it supplies water above the ground. But when the water percolates into the ground, it clogs the air pores present in the soil. These air pores that have oxygen pockets are crucial for plant breathing. The new hybrid version does not clog the air pores as it works on capillary force,” he says. The nutrients and fertilizers are supplied to plants through the pipe, he pointed out.

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