The viability and sustainability of crop production is currently threatened by increasing water scarcity. Water scarcity problems can be addressed through improved water productivity and the options usually presumed in this context are efficient water use and conversion of surface irrigation to pressurised systems. By replacing furrow irrigation with drip or centre pivot systems, the water efficiency can be improved by upto 30% to 45%. However, the installation and application of pumps and pipes, and the associated fuels needed for these alternatives increase energy consumption. A balance between the improvement in water use and the potential increase in energy consumption is required. When surface water is used, pressurised irrigation systems increase energy consumption substantially, by between 65% to 75%, and produce greenhouse gas emissions around 1.75 times higher than that of gravity based irrigation systems so their use should be carefully planned keeping in view adverse impact of carbon emissions on the environment and threat of increasing energy prices. With gravity-fed surface irrigation methods, the energy consumption is assumed to be negligible. This study has shown that a novel real-time infiltration model REIP has enabled implementation of real-time optimisation and gravity fed surface irrigation with real-time optimisation has potential to bring significant improvements in irrigation performance along with substantial water savings of 2.92 ML/ha which is equivalent to that given by pressurised systems. The real-time optimisation and control thus offers a modern, environment friendly and water efficient system with close to zero increase in energy consumption and minimal greenhouse gas emissions.
Cite this paper
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