We talk with Alexander Bespalov, Deputy Director of Potential LLC, about whether domestic farmers agree with this idea and how relevant is the topic of artificial irrigation in Russia today.
At the end of 2019, several scientific and analytical centers started talking about the high probability of a large-scale drought in Russia in the coming season. Among the prerequisites, they named an abnormally warm autumn and a complete absence of rain in the southern regions of the country. This was followed by an unprecedentedly warm winter, which strengthened the position of the forecasters. As a result, there really was a drought - in the Urals, Siberia, in the South of Russia, but it did not touch the central regions of the country and the Volga region.
What conclusions can be drawn from this story? First, unfortunately, even very authoritative specialists have not been able to predict climatic whims yet. And the second: a drought may come next year or after another couple of years and will do it without warning. And if an anomaly is possible and you can really prepare for it, you need to do this in order to feel confident in any development of events.
Potential LLC is a part of the Agrotrade Group of Companies, specializing in integrated reclamation solutions. Dealer of _ VALMONT INDUSTRIES, INC.
- Alexander, the Potential company has extensive experience in the implementation of irrigation projects. According to your observations, the number of farms wishing to grow their products for irrigation is increasing?
- For our company this year the growth was 20%. But I think that this indicator reflects not only the quality of our work, but also the growth of the market as a whole. Irrigation in our country has been purposefully developing for more than one year; significant subsidies are allocated in the regions to compensate for the costs of farmers. Great progress has been made in a number of areas. Against this background, many agricultural producers are beginning to fear that the period when the state is ready to share the costs of introducing irrigation with them may end. Therefore, those farms that wanted to introduce irrigation considered the feasibility of such a decision, but postponed the implementation of the project until better times, and began to actively deal with this issue.
- From which regions do you most often come?
- Many applications come from the Saratov, Orenburg, Samara regions. Moreover, not only large and medium-sized farms, but also farmers want to introduce irrigation.
- That is, irrigation is still most in demand in those regions where it is almost impossible to get a crop without water?
- In central Russia, water is treated differently. But a significant part of agricultural enterprises, especially those producing products for retail chains or processing enterprises, still use irrigation, because when grown on irrigation, the yield is higher, and the quality of the goods is better. The plant receives moisture exactly when it is needed, which always affects the result.
- What crops are grown today using sprinkler equipment?
- Soybeans, corn, potatoes react well to watering. In many farms, wheat and barley were grown on irrigation. For example, almost the entire Nizhny Novgorod region irrigates grain and receives 70 c / ha - twice as much as without irrigation. And grain is a very profitable commodity today. In the same list, forage crops. Livestock farms, introducing irrigation, are seeking to double the mowing volume, which makes it possible to reduce the cost of purchasing and delivering feed from other regions. And it is guaranteed to win in the quality of the products received.
- Are there regions where it is impossible to implement an irrigation project (if we talk specifically about sprinkling)?
- There are no such regions. But there are some areas where the launch of such a project is difficult, and sometimes even excluded. The main obstacle: distance from the source of water supply.
An ideal source of water for irrigation is an open pond. If it is not there, a well may be a replacement, although such a project will already be associated with certain problems (the water may be too hard, with a high content of salts and minerals, the well may have insufficient flow rate, etc.). Experienced specialists will necessarily calculate the risks and warn the customer about them.
- Can we say that by 2020 the customers of irrigation projects have begun to better understand the types of equipment, the capabilities of certain systems?
- Irrigation equipment of European and American manufacturers began to appear in our country about 20 years ago. Of course, during this time people received a lot of various information about irrigation technologies, someone looked at how everything works on existing projects, someone has already gained their own experience (both successful and, perhaps, not entirely successful). Some agricultural enterprises managed to launch irrigation projects, curtail them and launch them a second time (eliminating past mistakes).
- What kind of mistakes?
- There are different examples. For example, when designing (through an oversight or out of a desire to reduce the total cost of costs), pipes of a smaller diameter than required were laid. After the launch, it turned out that there was not enough water for irrigation, and part of the harvest had to be simply abandoned. Unfortunately, such "shortcomings" cannot be corrected with small adjustments.
- In what direction is irrigation technology developing?
- Equipment manufacturers are working to simplify the lives of users and improve the quality of equipment operation by introducing a variety of additional options.
The Valley plant, for example, has recently been offering to retrofit pivot irrigation systems with "cruise control": a special device that ensures that the machine rotates around its axis exactly in a given period of time (without slipping after stops), ideally observing a given rate glaze.
There are also new control panels that provide effective monitoring and control of equipment operation remotely. Users were given the opportunity to remotely control, including pumping stations.
- Is it in demand?
- Yes, such novelties bring work to a new level. In essence, this is the digitalization of agriculture in action - the future, which for many has already become the present.
In 2020, according to the Ministry of Agriculture of Russia, 8,5 billion rubles will be spent on land reclamation, which is 10,4% more than a year earlier.
In 2019, the volume of state support under the departmental program "Development of the Land Reclamation Complex of Russia" amounted to 5,7 billion rubles, also 2 billion rubles. was directed for these purposes within the framework of the federal project "Export of agricultural products". In 2020, subsidies to regional budgets for the implementation of measures in the field of reclamation of agricultural land will amount to 6,2 billion rubles. and 2,3 billion rubles. respectively.
As of July 30, 2020, Russian agrarians have already received more than 1,862 billion rubles. budgetary subsidies for land reclamation activities. The rate of utilization of funds of state support for land improvement this year is higher than last year. So, from the annual limit provided for by the federal budget, 17,5% were brought to agricultural producers (as of the same date in 2019 - 7,8%).
1,496 billion rubles. falls on the funds of the federal budget under the departmental program "Development of the reclamation complex of Russia" and the federal project "Export of agricultural products". The rest of the financing in the amount of RUB 366 million. - funds of regional budgets.
The Volga Federal District (41,3%), the Northwestern Federal District (38%) and the Central Federal District (24,6%) are currently leading in terms of the rate of bringing subsidies to farmers. The agrarians who implement land reclamation measures in the Novosibirsk region received the envisaged state support in full, more than 92% - in the Saratov region, over 90% - in the Ulyanovsk region.
In the draft state program for the effective involvement of agricultural land in circulation and the development of the ameliorative complex of Russia for 2021-2030, it is planned to increase the area of reclaimed land by at least 1,6 million hectares to the level of 2018, when it was 96,12 thousand hectares. The production of crop products on ameliorated lands over 10 years should increase by 145% compared to the level of 2018. At the same time, the degree of depreciation of fixed assets of the land reclamation complex in state ownership should decrease from 78% in 2020 to 49,9% in 2030.
The Ministry of Agriculture expects that due to the construction and reconstruction of reclamation facilities by the end of 2030, it will be possible to prevent the disposal of up to 3,8 million hectares of reclaimed land, as well as protect up to 829,3 thousand hectares from water erosion, flooding and flooding.
Based on materials from the Federal State Budgetary Institution "Center of Agroanalytics"