How Cloud-Based Irrigation is Already Showing Higher Crop Yield
In countries around the world, farmers are doing their very best to work with what they have so they can continue to feed growing populations. In India, a new cloud technology has allowed one grower to cut water use by 80%, all while doubling yields. This could be a tremendous boost not only in India, but worldwide.
The Surprising Approach
Scientists at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh developed a system that they believed would help boost crop yields, all while reducing irrigation needs. They started with a very specific and highly localized weather forecast, and they combined this with the locals’ knowledge of soil conditions and water needs. They incorporated this information into the SCORRES Project, which stands for Smart Control of Rural Renewable Energy and Storage. The goal was to reduce the use of resources and boost crop production – and they achieved this at a staggering level.
Current Problems with India’s Agriculture
Though the project is funded in the UK, scientists chose to focus on a farm in India. They believed that this is one of many regions around the world in serious danger of agricultural disruption in coming years. Per research, there are some 600 million people in India who may struggle as surface water supplies continue to deplete. 90% of the freshwater used in India goes toward agriculture, as does 18% of the country’s electricity and more than 15% of all diesel fuel. Farmers are struggling to keep up with less water, and many are currently in significant debt.
Using the Cloud to Growers’ Advantage
The aim of the SCORRES system is to help automate many of the processes that go into irrigation. First, scientists gathered what local Indian farmers already know about their soil and irrigation needs and combined this with localized rainfall forecasts. Then, the scientists gathered data about current soil moisture conditions, evaporation, and outages in the grid, transmitted this information to the cloud, and then attached the grower’s irrigation system to the platform. The result was the ability for the scientists and the grower to adapt the irrigation needs from minute-to-minute, thus ensuring that crops had the exact moisture they need at just the right time.
Is Global Implementation Likely?
This is still a relatively small-scale project, and scientists are currently considering different variables that could affect the outcome of cloud-based data transmission and automated irrigation. However, if other growers continue to experience the same results, it is expected that such technologies would be adopted worldwide. If farms across the globe could reduce water consumption by as much as 80% and still double their yields, this technology could help solve many problems facing the world today.
Right now, many people are struggling to think of ways for farmers to continue to meet the demands of growing populations, even as freshwater supplies continue to dwindle. Thanks to researchers and the new SCORRES project out of the UK, the answer may already exist. When growers can use less water to produce more food, not only can they help solve hunger issues, but they can also preserve freshwater for future generations.