(The Gist of Kurukshetra) Comabating Drought Through Farm Pond Technology [MAY-2018]

(The Gist of Kurukshetra) Comabating Drought Through Farm Pond Technology


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 Ponds

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 vegetative one.
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 income.
  • Provides water for spraying purpose in dry lands and drinking water for cattle.
  • 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 widely grown.

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 crop.

Government Support:

  • The following government institutions/ agencies are extending support for the construction and renovation of farm ponds and other water storage structures.
  • 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.

Study Material for UPSC General Studies Pre Cum Mains

This is Only Sample Material, To Get Full Materials Buy The Gist 1 Year Subscription - "Only PDF" Click Here

Click Here to Download More Free Sample Material

<<Go Back To Main Page

Courtesy: Kurukshetra