IIT Delhi Wants To Solve the Irrigation Problem For Indian Farmers
India being an agrarian economy, is largely dependent on farmers, the seasonal monsoon and a reliable irrigation system. In a country where power cuts are in abundance and money is scarce, being able to get a proper irrigation system going is a real challenge. Taking the present scenario in account, the farmers face multiple challenges to simply irrigate the fields. Apart from the endless power cuts and the cost of fuel, other factors like the safety, sustainability and durability of the irrigation system are extremely questionable.
Farmers currently resort to a device called “Jugaad pump” for irrigating the fields.This irrigation system is powered by a functional motor bike and is used for extracting water from open channels and ponds to deliver water for irrigation. While this “Juggad” works for some time, the bike run pump is not the ultimate and long term solution. A team of researchers from IIT Delhi has decided to build a solution which is sustainable and durable.
IIT Delhi researchers are designing solar pumps and invertors that are cost effective and energy saving. The project which is in partnership with industry partner Shakti Pumps Limited, will boost the productivity of the farmers and has received a massive funding of Rs 1.12 crore. The IIT Delhi research team includes Prof. Bhim Singh (Principal Investigator) and research scholars Utkarsh Sharma, Aryadip Sen, Md Kashif, Rashmi Rai, Hina Parveen, Yalavarthi Amarnath.
The research is carried out as a part of the project titled – Design and Development of Solar PV Based Super Efficient Agricultural Pumps and Hybrid Multidimensional Inverters- and falls under the Uchhatar Avishkar Yojana of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).
The project is based on decreasing the irrigation cost, or the cost of the energy (electricity or diesel) to drive the water pumps in remote areas where electricity is not yet available. The current irrigation cost in remote areas is upto 30% of the total input cost incurred by a farmer. This cost can be drastically reduced by solar powered water pumps.
The solar pumps will incur one time installation cost and expected battery maintenance cost approximately every two years. The pump will convert solar energy into electricity and employ Direct Current (DC) as opposed to the Alternating Current (AC) which is being currently used by most farmers. A DC powered battery is more efficient and durable and will keep the solar powered pump working for a longer period.
Project investigator Prof Bhim Singh says, “Besides development of super-efficient pumps we aim to design solar water pump with suitable motor considerations and variable frequency operation. We will subsequently be designing and developing the on grid/off grid hybrid inverter,”
Professor further states that the project is aimed at design and development of the industrial products under three verticals. The team will also develop cost efficient inverters running on solar power which can be used to light up the household and feed the electrical grid. The final deliverables would include new technology in electrical drives fed from solar power, novel motor and pump design along with the hybrid inverter design.
This project can help improve the lives of millions by making solar powered technology available at an affordable cost. But the maintenance cost after approximately every two years may make the farmers stick to their traditional method. A one time installation of the solar pump is expected to be expensive as well which may dissuade farmers not willing to incur the installation and the additional maintenance cost.