(The Gist of Kurukshetra) Comabating Drought Through Farm
Comabating Drought Through Farm Pond Technology
Crop production in rain fed areas depends primarily on rainfall. On one hand,
failure of monsoon leads to drought which in turn, causes decline in
Agricultural production and productivity. On the other hand, floods and water
logging following heavy or incessant rainfall causes destruction of crops, life
and property. Further, late onset of monsoon, prolonged dry spells of more than
10 days during July and August and terminal dry spell during September are not
uncommon in rain fed areas. Hence, productivity in rain fed ecosystem in India
is not exceeding 1.0 t per ha as compared to 2.5 t per ha under irrigated
ecosystem. Rainwater harvesting through several location specific methods is an
old age practice and in vogue across many parts of the world. However, farm
ponds are widely accepted water harvesting structures as they occupy less area
thus less evaporation besides better benefits to local people or individual
farmers a-d ease of management by individuals.
Farm pond is a dug out structure with definite shape and size having proper
inlet and outlet structures for collecting surface runoff flowing from catchment
area. It is a ex-situ method of water conservation. It is also called as on farm
reservoir. They are constructed to collect excess water after the rainwater is
conserved through different in-situ measures. Construction of farm ponds need
large catchment area with a minimum slope of >1-2%. It should be free from
septic tanks/house drains and should have a safe spill way preferably a
Alfisols have a high runoff generating potential than vertisols with deep cracks
at the commencement of the monsoons. On alfisols even with contour bunds, there
is at least 20 to 30 per cent runoff. Simple treatment of the land such as
shaping, removing obstructions etc. enhance the harvesting efficiency of runoff
water. There are two situations where farm ponds are generally filled viz., high
intensity rainfall (>2 inches/hr) and cyclonic rainfall.
Seepage and evaporation are the main two problems associated with farm ponds.
In unlined farm pond in Alfisols, water loss through seepage is sustainable,
while, it is very less in Vertisols. The loss of water from unlined pond can be
reduced by lining walls.
Benefits of Farm Ponds
- Farm pond can provide water for a part or full of the year depending on
its size. It can also control loss of soil and nutri farmers fields.
- If the farm pond is filled in summer and there is a late onset of
monsoon in June, harvested water can be utilized for sowing and
establishment of rain fed crops like cotton, maize and Jowar etc., which
need to be planted in June itself (Ramanjaneyulu and Venkata Ramana, 2017).
- If the farm pond is filled before or during monsoon season, this water
can be used for life saving/supplemental irrigation to rain fed crops to
break the early/mid/terminal dry spell. In the Indian rain fed agriculture
context, supplemental irrigation holds promise. Provision of irrigation at
critical stages during cropping season has the potential to improve the
yield by 29-114 per cent for different crops. The AICRRPDA has shown that
one cm of irrigation in rain fed areas at critical stages leads to about 200
kg additional yield in cereals and 100 kg additional yields in pulses and
oilseeds (Venkateswarlu, 2010). Scientific studies have reported that, India
has about 114 billion cubic meters of harvestable surplus rainfall water,
which can be collected from more promising rainfed areas of about 28.5 Mha,
can be partly utilize as harvestable water for crop husbandry.
- If it is filled at the end of monsoon season and there is no terminal
dry spell for long duration crops, the water can be used for meeting part of
water irrigation requirement of short duration field or vegetable crops in
rabi season. The water can also be utilized for horticultural plantations.
Thus, this technology provides regional water and food security by enhancing
the crop productivity.
- Helps to increase cropping intensity. Atmaram Mishra (2009) reported
that due to excess rainfall in the years 2001 and 2003 and deficit rainfall
in the year 2003 at Sadeiberini village of Dhenkanal district of Orlssa, the
Farmers were encouraged to grow second crop of rice with farm pond water
which has resulted in increasing cropping intensity from 100% to 131%, 176%
and 200% in the first and third year, respectively. Due to water
availability in farm ponds in 2001 and 2003, Pisciculture was also followed
which resulted in an additional income to the farmer.
- Cultivation of vegetables/indigo on bunds is possible for additional
- Provides water for spraying purpose in dry lands and drinking water for
- Improves groundwater recharge in case of unlined farm ponds.
Our experience at RARS, Palem
The Regional Agricultural Research Station (RARS) located at Palem,
Nagarkurnool district under Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural
University (PJTSAU), Hyderabad, Telangana state is the lead center for
developing farming-situation. Specilic technologies in dryland agriculture with
a view to enhance rainied crop productivity. Cotton, maize, pigeonpea, maize and
castor are the rainied crops grown predominantly in the zone during kharif
season. While, in rabi, groundnut in Allisols and Bengal gram in vertisols are
Life saving Irrigation to Rain fed crops
Sometimes, farm ponds are filled to an extent of 40-50% their capacity due to
limited run-off. So, it allows only life saving/supplemental irrigation to
mitigate dry spells especially during critical stages of most rain fed crops.
Hence, different methods viz., check basin, sprinkler and drip irrigation were
tried in various crops. Adoption of micro irrigation methods for scheduling life
saving at critical stages to rain fed crops helped efficient utilization of
limited but precious farm pond water, thus, increase irrigated area and water
use efficiency besides yield and economic advantage over other methods (Ramanjaneyulu
et al., 2012). Life saving irrigation through drip @ 40 mm gave 39% higher kapas
yield over sprinkler/check basin irrigation and 81% over rain fed crop.
Likewise, in castor, life saving irrigation through drip system @ 30 mm at
primary spike development and secondary spike formation stages resulted in 32%
yield advantage over check basin and 43? Over sprinkler and 61% over rain fed
- The following government institutions/ agencies are extending support
for the construction and renovation of farm ponds and other water storage
- National Horticultural Board (NHB) through Horticultural Department
- Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (MGNREGA)
- National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD-WDF)
- Hill Area Development Project (HADP) Tribal Area Development Project (TADP)
- MGNREGA, Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF), Member of Parliament
- Local Area Development (MPLAD) and Integrated Watershed Management
Programme (lWMP) provide ample opportunities for periodic desilting and
renovation of village ponds, tanks and other storage structures.
Farm ponds are considered as a one of the best mechanisms to mitigate drought
in rain fed rural areas. Government is also encouraging this viable technology
and supporting the farmers through subsidies. But the main hindrance for
implementation is loss of 5-10%off farm land. Hence, farmers in rural areas
should be motivated to adopt this technology by conducting farmer’s awareness
programmes, field days and training programmes, for enhancing the dryland
productivity and improve the economic status.