UNDP project promotes research development on water saving technologies

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Over the last years, Turkmenistan pays great attention to the development of water-saving irrigation technologies in cultivation of agricultural crops. Various stimulating factors are being created, including the transfer of agricultural land for a long-term use and possibility of agricultural producers to receive concessional long-term loans for the purchase of water-saving equipment and irrigation devices. For the development of water-saving technologies for irrigation of agricultural crops in the country, the effectiveness of their use should be justified by conditions of applicability of irrigation systems for soil-reclamation and climatic conditions of irrigated lands. In light of this, a joint UNDP / GEF project and the State Committee for Water Management of Turkmenistan “Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy for Sustainable Water Management in Turkmenistan” in the Gokdepe etrap of Akhal velayat on a research plot of 145 hectares equipped a field for conducting experiments with a total area of ​​6.2 hectares where conditions were created for organizing and conducting research to study the effectiveness of using various water-saving irrigation systems for drip irrigation, artificial sprinkling and improved surface irrigation in the cultivation of agricultural crops.

The field for the experiments is represented by separate irrigated areas of sprinkler irrigation, drip irrigation and surface irrigation. All irrigated areas of the experimental field are equipped with water meters for accurate accounting of irrigation water. Devices for measuring moisture (tensiometers) are installed on the fields to control soil moisture in the root zone of plants, as well as special devices - divers, which allow automatic monitoring of the depth and salinity of groundwater. To predict the right timing of irrigation, an automatic meteorological station was installed, which provides the collection of the following meteorological data: temperature and relative humidity of the air, the intensity of solar radiation, the direction and speed of the wind, the amount and intensity of precipitation, etc. In addition, devices are installed on the fields to determine the evaporation rate, an important indicator used to determine the evaporated water from the surface of the fields.

Since 2018, scientists and post-graduate students of the “Turkmensuvylymtaslama” Institute and the Turkmen Agricultural University have been conducting scientific research in the field of irrigated agriculture on this field for experiments.

Young scientists and graduate students carry out their research here. Among them: post-graduate student D. Taganov studies the efficiency of cotton cultivation when irrigated with water-saving irrigation methods; post-graduate student B. Kurtovezov conducts research to study the effectiveness of alfalfa irrigation with sprinkling irrigation; young scientist P. Ishankuliyev studies the issues of sprinkler irrigation of winter wheat; young scientist M. Tanrykuliyev explores the possibilities of irrigation of fruit trees using drip irrigation.

In 2020, field experiments were also laid on irrigated plots to study the cultivation of sugar beets, corn, vegetables and melons with water-saving irrigation methods, such as drip irrigation and sprinkling, as well as improved furrow irrigation using flexible irrigation hoses used instead of temporary earthen irrigation canals.

The ongoing scientific research of young scientists and graduate students, in addition to preparing monographs and dissertations for obtaining academic degrees, will also allow solving the following tasks that are extremely important for irrigated agriculture:

·         To determine the economic efficiency of the cultivation of agricultural crops with various methods of irrigation (drip irrigation, sprinkling and surface irrigation)

·         To prepare new standards for irrigation norms for various technologies of agricultural crops cultivation and methods of irrigation (drip irrigation, sprinkler irrigation and furrow irrigation)

·         To determine the impact of the use of various technologies for the cultivation of agricultural crops and methods of irrigation on soil fertility and salinity, as well as on drainage waters formation.

·         To determine energy costs, as well as CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, with various technologies for cultivating crops and methods of irrigation.

One of the noteworthy results of activities of the joint UNDP / GEF project on the research site of 145 hectares is the publication of the book "Recommendations for the design of drip irrigation systems for crops of vineyards, orchards and forest plantations." The Recommendations include the results of research carried out by young scientists and post graduate students on a research site of 145 hectares in Gokdepe.

The Recommendations provide a methodology and examples of calculating the irrigation regime for agricultural crops with drip irrigation, the sequence and examples of hydraulic calculations for pipelines of the drip irrigation system, examples of the selection of pumping equipment, some issues of construction, operation and calculation of economic efficiency. The developed Recommendations are intended for specialists engaged in the design and operation of drip irrigation systems for the cultivation of crops, vineyards, orchards and forest plantations in the soil and climatic conditions of Turkmenistan. The recommendations will be useful to specialists of farms, tenants, private firms engaged in cultivation of crops using water-saving drip irrigation technologies.

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