ISSN 2311-3219 - An International Triannual Journal
2020 | Volume 8 | Issue 1
Agricultural / Plant Sciences | Research article
Suitability Study of On-Farm Solar System as an Energy Source for Drip Irrigation
Malik Muhammad Akram, Muhammad Asif*
Directorate General Agriculture (On-Farm Water Management), Punjab Agriculture House, 21-Davis Road, Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
This study compared diesel, electricity provided by the national grid and on-farm solar system to find the most appropriate power source having the least cost and environmental impact, greater reliability and social acceptance for off-season production of drip-irrigated vegetables in plastic-covered tunnels. The cucumber was the test crop, and data were collected and averaged from 17 sites with an area ranging from 3 to 6 hectares at each site. The benefit-cost ratio and net return were calculated for economic viability and CO2 emission was determined for all three power sources to assess the environmental impact. Results showed that the benefit-cost ratio for solar-power drip irrigation system was 1.65, whereas, for electric-power and diesel-power drip irrigation systems, it was 1.57 and 1.46, respectively. The water use efficiency of solar-power drip irrigation was 12.73 kg/ha/m³, whereas, diesel and electric-power drip irrigations showed water use efficiency of 11.92 and 12.41 kg/ha/m³, respectively. It was found that the on-farm solar system had the least CO2 emission (0.02 ton/ha) compared to diesel and electric-power drip irrigation systems (0.86 and 0.34 ton/ha, respectively). Drip irrigation system powered by diesel had the lowest net return ($3981) compared to drip irrigation systems powered by the on-farm solar system ($5641) and electricity from the national grid ($5028). These results showed that the on-farm solar system is most environmentally friendly and economically viable power source for drip irrigation. The study further concludes that special initiatives can help promote off-grid cheap electricity through the solar system to run a high-efficiency irrigation system that will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also render opportunities for self-reliance, energy security and financial benefits.