11 - 12 November, 2020
The ICAR-Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore’s Team of Scientists bagged the First Prize in the National Water Awards - 2019 organized from 11th to 12th November, 2020 for their work on “Soil Moisture Indicator (SMI) and its application in irrigation water management” in the Best Research / Innovation / Adaptation of New Technology for Water Conservation category. The Team consisting of Dr. K. Hari, Dr. D. Puthira Prathap, Dr. P. Murali, Dr. A. Rameshsundar and Dr. B. Singaravelu Award was conferred the Award by the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Department of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Government of India. The Award carries a Cash Prize of Rs. 2 Lakhs and a Citation.
Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Hon’ble Vice President inaugurated the Awards distribution ceremony in the august presence of Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Union Minister of Jal Shakti and Shri Rattan Lal Kataria, Union Minister of State for Jal Shakti.
The user-friendly, simple device named as “Soil Moisture Indicator” (SMI) helps the farmers in assessing the soil moisture levels while scheduling irrigations, thus, ensuring considerable saving of irrigation water. The device has been designed for objectively indicating the soil moisture status in the soil and can work on a variety of soil types. It works based on the principle that electrical conductivity of the soil is directly proportional to soil moisture or soil electrical resistance is indirectly proportional to soil moisture content.
The team outlined about the evolvement of the SMI technology with an active participation of farmers and sugar factory personnel through the Farmers’ Participatory Action Research Project (FPARP) monitored by the Central Water Commission, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India. They also emphasized that considering the versatility of the technology, its use has been demonstrated by the several ICAR-KVKs (Farm Science Centres) in different crops, such as, groundnut, brinjal, bhindi, coconut, banana, paddy, sesame, black gram, green gram, tomato and mustard besides, sugarcane. The technology had also found a place in the Union Ministry of Agriculture’s Publication - New steps, progressive steps: A glimpse of PM’s achievements. It is also noteworthy that the Agriculture Skill Council of India and National Skill Development Corporation have included this in the National Occupational Standard of a Sugarcane Cultivator. At present, the unit price of the device is around Rs. 1,500/-.
Dr. Bakshi Ram, Director, ICAR-Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore highlighted that, with the fast depletion of water resources in agriculture being a serious cause of concern, widespread use of versatile devices, such as, Soil Moisture Indicators would go a long way in achieving the objective of obtaining “More crop and income per drop of water” resulting in sustainable gains to farmers across the country.
(Source: ICAR-Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore)