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Preserving water and empowering India’s farmers

In a field, two men look at a computer while two women look at crops

Key Points

  • India faces severe water shortages, with falling groundwater levels impacting farmers and communities. Agriculture, a major water consumer, is affected as shortages increase. The Amrita Center for Cyber Security Systems and Networks at Amrita University addresses this challenge with the development of Karshaka Amrita Dhara (KAD), a system that significantly reduces water use in agricultural irrigation.
  • In a four-acre mulberry farm pilot in Tamil Nadu, KAD reduced irrigation hours from five to one per day, reducing water and electricity consumption. The system detects soil moisture, providing precise water amounts for various crops. Another pilot project in Tamil Nadu, part of the self-reliant village initiative, involved recharging a farmer’s well. A trench connecting a pond to the well raised water levels, showcasing the potential for sustainable water solutions.
  • Amrita University emphasizes technical innovations like predicting irrigation patterns, building water collection trenches, and addressing power outages to avert future water and food shortages. These technologies aim to provide sustainable solutions, conserving water resources and benefiting communities in India and beyond.

Water is one of our most precious natural resources, and it is in increasingly short supply around the world. India is already facing severe shortages. According to the World Resources Institute, India is one of the most water challenged countries in the world. Groundwater levels are falling at alarming rates, leaving more and more farmers and communities desperate for this precious resource. Irrigation of fields takes up much of the water used by farmers, and as water shortages increase, agriculture is impacted. Many farmers are searching for ways to conserve water.

Men working with plans in a field

Recently, the Amrita Center for Cyber Security Systems and Networks, at our own Amrita University, developed a system called Karshaka Amrita Dhara (KAD) that dramatically reduces water use in agricultural irrigation. In a pilot project on a four acre mulberry farm in Periya Puthoor Village, in Tamil Nadu, this system was able to reduce the number of hours of irrigation from an average of five hours a day to one hour a day, thus dramatically reducing both water and electricity consumption. The system is able to detect soil moisture and provides only the required amount of water for a variety of crops. 

Men work on installation on a farm

Another pilot project was recently launched in Tamil Nadu, as part of our self-reliant village initiative. A farmer named Jagannath worked alongside our volunteers to recharge his drying well. We measured the land’s contour and dug a long trench to a nearby pond, located just uphill from the well. We returned recently to visit Jagannath’s farm, and were delighted to see much higher water levels in the well. During the recent rains, the trench filled with water, which flowed into the pond and refilled the well. We are hopeful that in a season or two, water reserves will be replenished, at which time fruit trees can be planted near the trench, continuing to benefit the local communities food supply.

Farmer in his field

Technical innovations such as predicting irrigation patterns based on sensory data, building water collection trenches near ponds, and avoiding power outages, are what Amrita University believes is necessary to avert acute shortages of water and food in the future. Using these various technological innovations, we hope to continue to conserve and provide sustainable solutions across India and the globe.

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