Today, I would like to start by asking some questions.
Are you amongst those farmers who are always dependent on the rain as the primary source of water for your farm?
Are you the farmer who is always complaining about less rainfall?
Do you want enough water to cater for your summer crops also?
If yes, then read this till the end as I will give you some important insights on rainwater harvesting which, in turn, will help you save a lot of water for farming purposes.
Rain-water harvesting is nothing, but simply, a technique to store rain-water. The basic principle behind rain-water harvesting is of utilizing the rain-water efficiently and effectively.
Not a single drop that has fallen in your farm should run away. To stop the water from running away we have to build up a system to store the water or make the water percolate in the ground and store it in the form of groundwater.
It is an age-old technique and still, it is not commonly used by the farmers. It is one of the simplest techniques that any farmer can implement in his farm. There has been a lot of progress in agricultural techniques but, this technique still stands out as one of the easiest and effective ones.
Today also, many of us are dependent only on rainwater as the primary source of water for our farms. I really don’t understand why so many farmers are ignorant towards this technique even after knowing the benefits of it.
Rainwater harvesting: How to do it?
Well, there are many ways to do rainwater harvesting. The most popular types are creating bunds, swales, ponds, etc. The main step in rainwater harvesting is land identification.
First of all, we have to identify which part of our farm is at the lowest point, so that, all the water can be channelized to this point.
As I said, storing the rainwater is the idea behind rainwater harvesting. We have to try and percolate as much water as we can in the ground. This, in turn, will increase the level of groundwater, so that, we can get an ample supply of water.
Here are some of the ways to do it:
If the rainwater is stopped from flowing out of the farm, then it can help us in conserving rainwater. We can do this simply by building bunds. Bunds create an obstruction in the way of flowing water and stop the water from running out of your land.
The best way to build bunds is starting from the topmost area of your land and then coming down. Build the first bund at the top and then build other bunds below each other at some particular distances, depending on the area of land which has a slope.
This technique is best suited for those farmers who have their farms in hilly areas. As the hilly areas have slant surfaces, it is a good idea to build bunds along the surface.
Digging swales is a simple way to do rainwater harvesting. You just have to search for low areas in your farm where rainwater can be channelized.
Suppose you have a slope coming on from one side in your farm. This slope will make the rainwater flow down from it. So what you have to do is just dig a swale or a trench perpendicular to the direction from where the water is coming. It will carry the water coming from the slope.
Swales are not meant to carry water from one point to another. They are just there to store the water. The water in it remains stagnant and slowly percolates in the ground.
Just remember one thing, whatever soil that you dig out should be kept on the opposite side of the swale from where the rainwater will come. This will give the swale an additional capacity to hold the water.
Rather than that, it will act as an excellent medium for growing trees because whatever organic material or fertilizers that you have used in your farm will be washed away with the rain and these fertilizers will come along with the water to the swale. This will give the plants or trees that are grown on the side of the swale, an additional benefit.
Farmers generally keep some type of mulch to help the plants grow even more effectively. In fact, the mulch also comes flowing with the rainwater, if the rainfall is heavy.
Grid locking is another excellent way of harvesting rainwater. This technique involves the formation of rectangular grids in the field to hold rainwater.
Suppose, you are cultivating potatoes. The general or common practice that many farmers follow is building tillages. Tillages have their own benefits but, instead of tillages, we can build grids.
They are exactly similar to the rectangular construction that is made with concrete on a newly constructed slap. The purpose of the grid is to hold the water. They look somewhat like this.
When the rain comes, around 30% is percolated in the ground automatically. The next 30% can be percolated using grid locking. And if the rainfall is heavy, which makes the water to flow over the grids, then, this excess water can be channelized into the swales. So, the remaining 40% of water is percolated using swales.
This system if implemented properly can work wonders for us. It will make sure that not a single drop of water is flowing out of the farm. After a year or two, this system will make the groundwater level to increase in your land.
Growing rice in summers can be a nightmare for some farmers. This system will help them get about 35% extra water that they can use to nurture their crops.
There is one farmer named Subhash Sharma who has explained it very well in one of his videos.
It is the simplest of all. You just have to identify the lowest location in your farm and dig a small pond there. Small channels should be dug leading towards the pond. Now, whenever it rains, all the rainwater will flow towards the small pond.
This technique is not that efficient as you cannot guide all the water towards that pond. Some water will eventually flow out of the farm somehow.
If you have a big farm then, it is very difficult to guide all the water towards one single pond. So, multiple ponds should be created.
Even if it is not that efficient, it serves its purpose. You can directly use the water from the pond using a water pump. This also helps to increase the groundwater level. This also serves as a good breeding environment for aquatic animals. Many breeds of fish can grow here.
Therefore, this technique will also help you to have a side business.
Some other techniques of rainwater harvesting:
These techniques are easy to implement, low costing and extremely effective. There are various other techniques also. Various modern techniques have also been discovered now.
There is one technique, which involved channelizing of the rainwater into a small trench. The whole trench was covered with a plastic sheet. The sheet made sure that the water will not percolate into the ground. The water then can be used directly using a water pump.
There is another award-winning technique which involves the collection of rainwater directly above the water boring. The water boring is laid down with soil first and then with increasing sizes of pebbles, making 4 to 5 layers of pebbles and rocks.
These layers make sure that the water which will be percolated, will be clean and filtered. The water is channelized directly above the boring which makes the groundwater level high around the boring. This will give the farmers more water for use.
Why rainwater harvesting is important?
Well, I don’t want to burden you with a lot of information here. That is why I am keeping this post limited to few techniques only. All of these are very easy and efficient techniques which will definitely help you.
There is a small village in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, India, called Hiware Bazar, which is a perfect example of the progress that a village can make just by using rainwater harvesting. This village faced a huge problem of water shortage. Then, a new village head (Sarpanch), Mr Popatrao Pawar, was elected to look after the village. He convinced the villagers to implement rainwater techniques so that they can get water for farming. They all worked for free for many days, creating and building bunds all over the village. The bunds helped in stopping the water whenever it rained.
Within no time Hiware Bazar was beaming with crops even in summers as no water went out of the village. Earlier the rainwater used to flow to the villages which were situated at low altitudes than Hiware Bazar. All the farmers who had migrated to cities for better opportunities started coming back to the village to do farming.
Soon, Hiware Bazar stood out as an example of a perfect transition that rainwater harvesting can make and Mr Popatrao Pawar became a national hero. I think we should also take inspiration from this story of Hiware bazar.
Well, saving water has significant advantages in today’s world. There are many places around the world which face droughts every year. If we have ample water then, we should not waste it, instead, we should use it wisely. As rainwater harvesting helps in saving water, I highly encourage everyone to start implementing the technique in their farms.
I don’t really understand, Why farmers are still reluctant in implementing this technique. Maybe lack of knowledge can be an issue or lack of space can be an issue. I don’t really understand. If you know the reason behind the farmer’s reluctance towards rainwater harvesting then, I would really like to know it. Please let me know it in the comments section.
Many cheaper and better techniques are also available to do rainwater harvesting. Well, now you have the knowledge, so it’s time for action.
Rainwater harvesting will surely up your game in farming. To make more progress this year, please see this post of mine: