By the early 2000s, as open well and rain-fed irrigation became increasingly infeasible owing to depletion of above-ground resources and irregular rains, the need was felt to turn to water management techniques that were less intensive and optimised water usage. The AP state government was conducting a Micro-Irrigation Programme- APMIP, and their efforts worked in tandem with RDT’s to benefit a larger footprint of villages and communities.
RDT’s efforts were known by the banner of ‘Sustainable Diversified Horticulture through Drip and Solar Irrigation’. Farmers dug bore-wells to move from purely rain-fed and open-well-based irrigation to ground-water irrigation. They then were made aware of the benefits of drip-irrigation in comparison to the previously followed flood and basin irrigation. Counselling inputs led to reduction in the exclusive dependence on heavily water-dependant traditional crops like groundnut, castor, red and green gram, and the rise of mixed cropping practices – alternating fruit and vegetable cultivation, using drip systems to water these crops. The systems introduced were drip irrigation, sprinklers and micro-sprinklers.
In this system, the water or fertilizer is allowed to drip slowly to the roots of plants and the soil surface through a network of valves, pipes, tubing and emitters. Drip irrigation is suitable for fruit crops, vegetable crops, oil-seeds, plantation crops, forest trees etc.