India: Techno-economic feasibility analysis
India: Techno-economic feasibility analysis of drip irrigation in oil palm plantations
Rao, C.L.N. 2
Abstract of a paper presented by Netafim in the “National Conference on Oil Palm – Oil palm for farmer’s prosperity and edible oil security”, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, India, 2008
1Manager, Agro-Knowledge Management, Agriculture Division, Netafim Corporation
2Senior Agronomist, Netafim India
Oil palm cultivation is expanding worldwide owing to price competitiveness, techno-economic superior attributes for various edible and non-edible applications and assured all-year round feedstock supplies to mills. However, within the context of declining water reserves, rising fertilizer, energy and labor costs in oil palm, production systems necessitate the use of innovative water management technologies to ensure higher productivity, use efficiency and profitability.
Drip irrigation is an acknowledged technique for achieving high efficiencies in water and nutrient use of crops by wetting only a limited part of the root zone besides environmental protection.
Since its introduction in the 1960s, the availability, quality, agronomic management and performance of drip irrigation has been greatly improved and proven successful in several field and horticultural crops world over. Today, drip equipment is also specifically designed to enable oil palm growers to make use of existing farm infrastructure such as variable topography, water sources and qualities, pumps, plant densities and crop age.
Additional practical benefits are water application at a rate close to plant water uptake and fertigation scheduling according to crop developmental phases that affect soil water regime and plant response. It is thus expected to improve FFB yields and reduce water and nutrient leaching from drainage below the root zone.
Field studies conducted in Malaysia, Thailand and India revealed that drip irrigation promoted growth traits such as leaf area and photosynthetic rate. Studies also illustrated an improved plant water relations, transpiration rate and nutrient uptake contributing to significantly higher FFB yield, water and nutrient use efficiency and economic returns.
Key words: Drip irrigation, environmental protection, fertigation, FFB yields, IRR (Internal Rate of Return), leaf area, nutrient efficiency, nutrient leaching, nutrient uptake, oil palm, photosynthetic rate, root zone, transpiration rate, water application, water efficiency, water leaching, water management technologies, water uptake
Geographic term: India, Malaysia, Thailand