10 Ways in which Indian Farmers can Save Water

Gardening Basics
// November 19, 2017
agriculture in india

Indian economy is dependent on agriculture, and the farmer’s livelihood is dependent on the monsoon. Drastic climatic conditions like floods, drought, a shift in plant growing zones have resulted in the decline in crop productivity. In this scenario, it is imperative that effective provisions for saving water are made.

Below are ten ways in which Indian Farmers can save water and put it to optimum use all through the year:

1. Rainwater Harvesting:

Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) can be defined as a method by which the Rainwater is collected in tanks and reservoirs for future use. Unpredictable climatic conditions and depleting groundwater levels can be mitigated with Rainwater Harvesting. The best part about RWH is that it can be practiced in homes, offices, parks, etc. Read about best rain water harvesting techniques.

agricultural water management

2. Black Plastic and Organic Mulches:

Did you know that organic and black plastic mulches can save 25 percent in water requirements? Black Plastic or synthetic mulch not only reduces the water evaporation but also helps in controlling weeds and warms the soil, for an earlier crop. Organic mulches post decomposition provide nutrients to the soil and conserve moisture. Cover crops and Green Mulches can be used too. Understand mulching.

black plastic sheeting for gardens

3. Laser Leveling:

Unevenness of the soil surface impacts germination, stand and yield of crops. Farmers spend considerable time and resources in leveling their fields properly. However, traditional methods of leveling land are cumbersome, time-consuming as well as expensive. Laser land leveling can be defined as leveling the area within a certain degree of the desired slope using a guided laser beam throughout the field.

The benefits of Laser Land Levelling are:

  • Accurate distribution of water
  • Saving water
  • Conservation of soil nutrients
  • Precision Farming
  • Higher crop productivity
  • Fewer weed problems
  • Saving time, energy and resources

laser leveling of soil surface

4. Drought-Tolerant Crops:

It always recommended that crops are grown in line with the regions. For instance, native crop species are native to arid areas and are naturally drought-tolerant. Moreover, drought-resistant plants work well in a range of soil types and can thrive even in poor soil with relatively few nutrients. Making them part of your farm will pay dividends, both now and in the future.

drought tolerant crops

5. Rotational Grazing:

In rotational grazing, the livestock is moved between fields to promote pasture regrowth. The advantages of Rotational Grazing are: water absorption, a decrease in water runoff, pastures become more drought-resistant, increase in soil organic matter and better forage cover makes water-saving easy. Remember that you do not overgraze the land.

pasture management, livestock farming

6. Agroforestry:

Agroforestry is a concept in which trees are used as a part of the landscape. This idea benefits the soil, animals and plants alike.

Advantages of Agroforestry are:

  • Less evaporation rate due to which the soil and water run-off is prevented.
  • Shade tolerant crops can be grown.
  • Animals benefit from the shade.
  • The leaves and fruits from trees can form an organic mulch.
  • Multi-variety crops can be planted.
  • By mixing trees, shrubs and seasonal crops the damage caused due to insects, diseases, drought, and the wind is prevented.

Read about sustainable agriculture.

agroforestry

7. Chinampas or Floating Gardens:

This farming system was practiced by the Aztecs of Mexico’s lake country for more than thousand years. Chinampas or floating gardens are long and narrow patches of ground, bordered by canals on both sides. Approximately 30 meters by 2.5 meters, they are built during canal excavation through stacking alternate layers of canal muck and rotting vegetation.

floating gardens

8. Sub-surface irrigation:

This type of irrigation is suitable for hot, arid and windy regions. Its advantages are:

  • Saving water
  • High Yield
  • Minimal evaporation
  • Negligible soil and nutrient run-off
  • Nutrients reach the root level
  • Less disease infestation
  • Fewer weeds problems
  • Less labor
  • Root zone is uniformly moist
  • Less energy required for pumping

subsurface irrigation system

9. Plastic buckets for starting trees:

The waste baskets lying at the construction sites can be put to great use by starting young trees in them. All you need to do is, take a 5-gallon bucket, drill drainage holes at the bottom, place it next to a small tree and let gravity do the rest.  You can also attach a small pipe to the holes and leave it close to the tree. This method helps in irrigating the crops slowly and gradually.

Read about 5 farming methods to save mother earth.

tree plantation

10. Sand dams:

Developed by the Romans in 400 BC, Sand Dams has been used in India, Africa, and South America for more than fifty years, but remains underutilized. It is a simple concept and can provide enough clean drinking water for gardening and farming in large quantity and an extensive period. Sand Dams are built by digging a deep trench and filling it with concrete. This drench is filled overtime with rains. The dams are usually located across small rivers which stop flowing in the dry season, the sand becomes about 40% saturated with water and can hold 2 to 10 million liters.

rainwater harvesting using sand dam

Image Source: https://arche-nova.org

Other techniques that can be used by Indian farmers to save water are:

  • Use a Water Flow Meter to Measure Water Usage
  • Tailwater Return Systems
  • Bottle Irrigation and Pitcher or Olla Irrigation
  • Zai Pits
  • System of Crop Intensification (SCI) or System of Root Intensification (SRI)
  • Ripper-Furrower Planting System
  • Acequias
  • Organic Farm Soils
  • Drought Tolerant Livestock Breeds
  • Recycle Wastewater
  • Half Moons, Bunds, and Terraces
  • Mycorrhizal Fungus
  • Soil Moisture Sensors
  • Good Drainage

Do you have any creative method for saving water? Let us know in the comments section below.

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