Today, there is extensive research being carried out, aiming at developing agricultural technologies across the globe. Farmers have embraced new technologies because these make them more efficient in protecting or increasing yields and cause lesser harm to the environment. The term “micro-irrigation” describes a family of irrigation systems that supply water through small devices. These devices deliver water onto the soil surface very near the plant or below the soil surface directly into the plant root zone. Growers, producers, and landscapers have adopted micro-irrigation systems to suit their needs with regard to precision water application to avoid water loss. Micro-irrigation systems are immensely popular, not only in arid regions and urban settings, but also in sub-humid and humid zones where water supplies are limited or water is expensive. In irrigated agriculture, micro-irrigation is used extensively for row crops, mulched crops, orchards, gardens, greenhouses, and nurseries. In urban landscapes, micro-irrigation is widely used with ornamental plantings.
Sprinkler irrigation system is the most abundantly utilized micro-irrigation system, due to its low investment and maintenance costs. The area covered by sprinkler irrigation systems is large when compared to drip irrigation systems. Farmers as well as landscaping experts prefer sprinklers due their ease of use and minimum resource utilization.
North America has been a cradle of innovations for micro irrigation systems market. This offers first-mover advantage to various manufacturers of micro-irrigation systems. The trend of utilizing highly sophisticated methods to reduce resource costs has led to the adoption of micro-irrigation techniques for agriculture, cultivation, and plantations. This has massively increased the demand for micro-irrigation systems, as they reduce the overall investment in resources.
The Indian and Chinese markets for micro-irrigation systems are turning out to be crucial revenue pockets, due to increasing governmental support to multinationals and also financing farmers to purchase agricultural equipment. These countries are projected to offer large potential to the manufacturers, due to their high population density and agriculture being their most prevailing occupation.
The simple equation showing the significance of this market in the future is given below:
“More people = more food needed = more agricultural produce = more water requirement”
To fulfill the future demands for food, there is a need to increase the production across the world. In such a scenario, optimum use of water through micro-irrigation system is inevitable. This situation of demand for water that is required to fulfill the food requirements of the rising population has driven the growth of the micro-irrigation system market.
Drip and sprinkler irrigation systems are called as efficient irrigation equipment. Generally, both of these have several sub-types of equipment parts in them. Irrigation water requirements are less in drip and sprinkler irrigation systems when compared to conventional surface and furrow irrigation methods. The savings depend on the crop type, soil, and environmental conditions. The primary reasons for water conservation by using micro-irrigation is that only the necessary zone around the root is supplied with water, saving wastage caused by flooding and evaporation and the loss of water which was not taken up by the plant. It also prevents the uptake of irrigation water by weeds.
Sprinkler irrigation systems are driving the market for micro-irrigation systems. Sprinkler irrigation systems incorporate pumping unit, tubing, pipes, and sprinklers as the main components. Cost-effectiveness and ease of utility and maintenance are some of the factors that make sprinkler irrigation systems the primary choice for micro-irrigation. North America is the biggest market for sprinkler irrigation systems.
Drip irrigation is the second-most utilized system in micro-irrigation. It involves the utilization of tubes, valves, and pressure regulators for achieving uniform water displacement towards roots of plants. Drip irrigation is the most sought after system in mountainous regions as field leveling is not required for this system. The Asia-Pacific region is the biggest market for drip irrigation systems. Increasing competition with the other water users in the future would limit the water availability for expanding irrigated area. In traditional surface irrigation methods, the losses in water conveyance and application are large. These losses can be considerably reduced by adopting drip and sprinkler irrigation methods.
Netafim (Israel), Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd. (India), and Deere & Company (U.S.) are the key players in the North American market. The key driving factors are the growing concerns regarding water shortage and the proven benefits of irrigation on the yield and quality of crops. Developing countries in the Asia-Pacific and Rest of the World (RoW) regions show the potential growth for micro-irrigation in the irrigated agriculture industry.