Importance Micro-Irrigation in India : Drip Irrigation Vs Sprinkler Irrigation

Importance Micro-Irrigation in India : Drip Irrigation Vs Sprinkler Irrigation

Irrigation is the process through which controlled amount of water can be supplied through artificial means such as pipes, ditches, sprinklers etc. The main objective of irrigation systems is to help agricultural crop growth, landscape maintenance and reduce the effect of inadequate rainfall. Therefore, the importance of irrigation systems is very high.

  • However, many farmers are finding it hard to choose an irrigation system that can best serve them. In this article we are going to cover two of the most popular irrigation systems that save both water in their own way and are highly efficient.
  • The data provided by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare to the Lok Sabha show that the net irrigated area in the country is 68,649 thousand ha.

What is Micro-Irrigation?

Micro irrigation is the modern method of irrigation which helps to save water and increases the water use efficiency. It makes use of drippers, sprinklers and foggers. Micro irrigation can increase yields and decrease water, fertilizers and labour requirements. It can also help to bring the degraded, uncultivable land under cultivation.

Present scenario of Micro Irrigation in India

Present scenario of Micro Irrigation in India

The average penetration of micro irrigation in India is 19% (as on February 3, 2021), which is much lesser than many countries.

  • The agriculture land covered under micro-irrigation is 12,908.44 thousand ha in which drip irrigation is 6,112.05 thousand ha and sprinkler irrigation is 6,796.39 thousand ha.

Up to 60% of water used for sugarcane, banana, okra, papaya, bitter-gourd and few other crops could be saved if drip irrigation system is employed for cultivation. 

  • Currently only Sikkim, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra have more than half of their net cultivable area under micro irrigation whereas 27 states in India have less than 30% micro irrigation system out of which 23 have less than 15%.
  • Uttar Pradesh is the largest producer of Sugarcane, which is water intensive crop but has only 1.5% area under micro irrigation and Punjab has only 1.2 %.
  • Bihar and West Bengal are among the major Agriculture Dependent States that have less than 5 per cent micro irrigated land.

In September 2020, Agriculture minister Mr. Narendra Singh Tomar said that the government has set the target of covering 100 lakh ha land in the next five years under micro irrigation.

Impact of Micro-Irrigation

  • An impact evaluation study of micro-irrigation scheme carried out by the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare found that irrigation cost is reduced by 20-50 per cent with an average of 32.3 per cent in micro-irrigation schemes. 
  • Electricity consumption is reduced by about 31 per cent and the saving of fertilizers is in the range of 7 to 42 per cent.
  • Most importantly, the overall income enhancement of farmers is in the range of 20-68 per cent with an average of 48.5 per cent.

Classification Of Micro Irrigation system

Micro irrigation system can be broadly classified into two categories:

(1) Drip irrigation system

(2) Sprinkler irrigation system

Drip irrigation system

Drip irrigation system, also known as ‘trickle irrigation system’, is a method of applying the required amount of water directly to the root zones of plants through drippers or emitters at frequent intervals.

In this system, water is applied drop-by-drop or by a micro jet on the soil surface or sub-surface at a rate lower than the infiltration rate of the soil. 

The emitters dissipate pressure from the distribution system by means of orifices, vortexes and tortuous or long flow paths, thus, allowing a limited volume of water to be discharged. 

Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation system reduces water consumption by 50%. With drip irrigation, water applications are more frequent which provides a more favorable moisture level for the plants to thrive.

Advantages of Drip Irrigation

  • Water is used at maximum optimum level.
  • As water is applied locally and leaching is reduced, fertilizer/nutrient loss is minimized.
  • Weeds cannot absorb water as no water is available for them and thus grow in less number
  • Crop yield is maximum
  • Fertilizers can be used with high efficiency.
  • No soil erosion
  • Soil infiltration capacity is increased.
  • Fertilizers and ground water is not mixed
  • Recycled water can be used safely
  • Irregular shaped lands can be Irrigated Easily.
  • Waste of fertilizers is reduced by 50%
  • Energy cost is reduced as it is operated in lower pressure than other irrigation methods.

Sprinkler Irrigation

Sprinkler irrigation is a method of applying irrigation water which is similar to natural rainfall. Water is distributed through a system of pipes usually by pumping. It is then sprayed into the air through sprinklers so that it breaks up into small water drops which fall to the ground.

Sprinkler irrigation is a type of pressurized irrigation that consists of applying water to the soil surface using mechanical and hydraulic devices that simulate natural rainfall.

Advantages of Sprinkler Irrigation System

  • Affordable and easy to set up.
  • Water measurement is easier than surface irrigation system.
  • Less interference with cultivation and less land loss.
  • High and frequent application can be effectively accomplished.

Steps Taken By Government to Promote Micro-Irrigation

Centrally-sponsored Scheme of Per Drop More Crop component of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY-PDMC).

The Government of India has been implementing Centrally Sponsored Scheme on Micro Irrigation with the objective to enhance water use efficiency in the agriculture sector by promoting appropriate technological interventions like drip & sprinkler irrigation technologies and encourage the farmers to use water saving and conservation technologies.

  • The Scheme was launched by the Department of Agriculture & Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture in January, 2006 as Centrally Sponsored Scheme on Micro Irrigation (CSS).
  • In June, 2010, it was up-scaled to National Mission on Micro Irrigation (NMMI), which continued till the year 2013-14.
  • From 1st April, 2014, NMMI was subsumed under National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) and implemented as “On Farm Water Management” (OFWM) during the financial year 2014-15.
  • From 1st April 2015, Micro Irrigation component of OFWM has been subsumed under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana.

Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana.

The Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers’ Welfare is implementing the ”Per Drop More Crop” component of PMKSY-PDMC.

  • It is operational in the country from 2015-16.
  • It focuses on enhancing water efficiency at farm level through micro irrigation technologies such as ”drip and sprinkler” irrigation.
  • Of the total area of 53.73 lakh hectares covered under the scheme, drip irrigation covered 28.23 lakh hectares and sprinkler irrigation covered 25.50 lakh hectares through PMKSY-PDMC from 2015-16 to March 2021. 


  • Micro Irrigation Fund corpus of Rs. 5000 crore has been created with NABARD in Year 2018-19 to facilitate the States to mobilize resources to provide top-up/additional incentives to farmers for incentivizing micro-irrigation beyond the provisions available under PMKSY-PDMC


  • The Government provides financial assistance @ 55% for small and marginal farmers and @ 45% for other farmers for installation of Drip and Sprinkler Irrigation systems. In addition, some States provide additional incentives/top up subsidy for encouraging farmers to adopt Micro Irrigation.

Objectives of Per Drop More Crop (Micro Irrigation)

The main objectives of Per Drop More Crop (Micro Irrigation) are as under:

  • Increase the area under micro irrigation technologies to enhance water use efficiency in the country.
  • Increase productivity of crops and income of farmers through precision water management.
  • Promote micro irrigation technologies in water intensive/consuming crops like sugarcane, banana, cotton etc and give adequate focus to extend coverage of field crops under micro irrigation technologies.
  • Make potential use of micro irrigation systems for promoting fertigation.
  • Promote micro irrigation technologies in water scarce, water stressed and critical ground water blocks/districts
  • Link tube-well / river-lift irrigation projects with micro irrigation technologies for best use of energy both for lifting and pressurized irrigation as far as possible.
  • Establish convergence and synergy with activities of on-going programmes and schemes, particularly with created water source for its potential use, integration of solar energy for pressurized irrigation etc.
  • Promote, develop and disseminate micro irrigation technology for agriculture and horticulture development with modern scientific knowledge.
  • Create employment opportunities for skilled and unskilled persons, especially unemployed youth for installation and maintenance of micro irrigation systems

Impact of PDMC-PMKSY 

Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have reaped maximum benefits from the Centrally-sponsored Scheme of Per Drop More Crop component of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY-PDMC).

Out of 53.73 lakh hectares covered under the micro-irrigation under this scheme, Karnataka has covered 10,92,874 hectares that is 20 per cent of the total micro-irrigation under the scheme while Tamil Nadu has covered 8,06,966 hectares (15 per cent of the total).

Gujarat (14 per cent), Andhra Pradesh (14 per cent) and Maharashtra (11 per cent) are the other three States which have benefited from the scheme.

Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY-PDMC).

Practice Question 

Write a note on Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana. Highlight the challenges in the implementation of the scheme.

Suggested Reading : NCERT

Date and Image Source : BL and Ministry Report

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