For weeks, heavy rainfall in the Himalayas had caused rivers to swell to such an extent that dams overflowed and threatened to break. The authorities had to open the floodgates, resulting in flooding of the lower reaches of the river. Many were left homeless, much of the crop was destroyed and seeds were lost. Where there was no dense plant cover, the stream took large amounts of soil with it. Tree-covered field margins, bushes and intercrops could clearly demonstrate their importance in erosion control.
Photo: View of the riverbed of the nearby river Sutlej.
Since 2017, solar panels have been installed step by step on the roofs of Kirpal Sagar to generate electricity. It all began with the old people’s home, which has now been completed. Due to a change of supplier there was a longer delay.
Photo: from left: Senior electrician, Chairman, German consultant
Water pumps for field irrigation run on diesel engines or require a lot of electricity. Most pumps are mobile and are used where they are needed. Solar-powered models have been around for some time, but have the disadvantage that the modules are permanently mounted so that an expensive module with its own electric pump was required for each well hole. This was to be changed by a mobile solar system. The self-construction has now passed the first test. For transport, the modules are compactly stowed on an existing trailer that is no longer needed and are taken to the place of use with the tractor. There the two panel supports are unfolded via a rail system similar to a drawer, connection to the pump brought along, ready. Solar is thus competitive with mobile diesel pumps in terms of practical handling.
Photo: mobile solar system supplies water pump
Kirpal Sagar has its own water tower since 1986. The last weeks it has been renovated and is now freshly painted. Below the water basin is the pump room and the electrical workshop. The large pump, which pumps water from a depth of 80 metres, has recently been largely powered by solar power. Last but not least, the water tower offers a good panoramic view of the entire area.
Photo: Water tower
In summer, without irrigation, not much works in northern India. Traditionally, diesel pumps are used for this purpose. Electric pumps are now also available on the market for this purpose. Instead of laying expensive long cables or installing overhead lines in the fields to supply them, solar panels are an option. Since several wells located at a distance are usually used, each pump receives its own panel according to the conventional concept. It’s just a shame that the pumps usually only run for a few hours and the electricity generated cannot be used in the other hours. A mobile solution, in which the panels are brought to the pumps, is obvious. An existing old trailer served as a platform.
Photo: Construction on the mobile panel support for the electric irrigation pump
After some trials last year, a larger area was cultivated with eggplants this year. Next door are experimental fields where different types of mixed crops are cultivated in a concept reminiscent of a raised bed. The moisture-loving plants are at the bottom of the gutter, the dry ones at the top. Fruit trees and bushes border the plot, provide shade, hold the moisture. Well selected plant communities cover the soil at all times and protect it from erosion by wind and water. The high manual workload is more than compensated for by a large harvest of high quality. We are curious to see which plant communities prove to be particularly suitable.
Photo: Horticulturalists harvesting eggplants