Article How farmers are coping with water scarcity ? Part 1

Discussion in 'Discussion Topics' started by editorialteam, Apr 21, 2017.

  1. editorialteam

    editorialteam Active Member Staff Member

    Here is the first part in a series of interviews on water management ideas from farmers and experts.

    With every passing year groundwater across the country is depleting. Many states are facing acute water shortage while few states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra are going through terrible drought! The dry spell is worrying the farmers as well as the Government. It certainly is a serious matter of concern but what the farmers can do in this difficult time? How to survive such situations?

    We interacted with an academician, a farmer and a service provider to find out about the probable way out to deal with the problem of water scarcity. The solutions identified might not be able to give 100% immediate relief from the existing crisis of water but certainly it would help to get through this period and prepare well from coming months.

    Dr. Jagadish Rane

    Recommends mulching during drought

    Drought is a natural and an inevitable phenomenon that occurs periodically and often causes miseries for the farmers. Though the rainfall deficiency is the primary cause of drought, there is a lot of scope to reduce the impact through soil moisture conservation practices widely proposed by agricultural research institutes and universities. Since drought occurs gradually it provides opportunities to manage it. The primary aim during this period should be to maximize the moisture level in the soil. It is best done with mulching.

    The mulch cover on the farmlands allows conservation of soil moisture and makes the life-saving irrigation more effective for the growth and development of crops. Natural mulch comprises of dry leaves, twigs, fallen branches and other plant debris that are accumulated on the soil surface. The mulch insulates and protects the soil from drying through the process of evaporation. The irrigated water either is lost through evaporation or utilized by plants through transpiration. Transpiration is a process of water loss through small pores called stomata in leaves. This process cools the plant canopies and allows other activities inside the plant to occur normally. Consequently the leaves and soil is much cooler even during the hot temperature. Plant roots find a more favorable environment near the soil surface where air content and nutrient levels are conducive to good plant growth. Mulching is good for all kinds of soil,” says Dr. Jagadish Rane, Head, School of Drought Stress Management, National Institute of Abiotic Stress Management(NIASM).

    There are different kinds of mulching available. Farmers can select the mulch that is easily available in and around their farm. Mulching surely is the best way to get through dry and hot climate. It is must for all the farming zones.

    Analyzing the soil is very important in dealing with drought. With just one shower in black soil gets moist and the rabi crops such as sorghum and chick peas are able to sprout , grow and yield grains to some extent in Maharashtra villages. On the contrary red and murum soil has less water holding capacity hence even with 3-4 showers/light rainfall the soil stands dry. “In black soil under water shortage conditions millets like bajra and jowar can survive but again it depends on the geographical location as the climatic conditions vary and so is the growth of the plants. Thereby soil and region should be evaluated closely in alliance and accordingly farmers must prepare themselves. They can take the assistance from agricultural universities,” he asserts.

    Improved Seed Varieties and agronomic practices

    Farmers can use drought resistant seed varieties developed by the agricultural universities and central research institutes. “The seeds developed by universities and research institutes are crafted often from indigenous seeds varieties. Hence the improved seed variants have the inherit qualities of the native origin seeds along with add-on feature such as drought resistant or disease tolerant. It is safe to use these seeds in hard phase of water adversity complying with package of practices,” says Dr. Rane. Similarly, for agronomic practices, series of tests are conducted for 3-4 years consistently for certain farming practices with respect to diverse seed varieties and then these are sent for recommendations. Later these are once again checked, certified and documented as package of practices.

    Drought is the most challenging phase for the farmers. “They can survive it by adopting a good mix of traditional and modern natural farming practices. They must make most of the findings made by the universities. If there are any fall outs for the practices recommended by universities or research institutes, then they must give the feedback so that the scientist can re-work on the same. Nevertheless drought certainly is quite tough to manage than said but the farmers have the strength and opportunities to overcome the hurdle,” he concludes.


    Contact details:
    Dr. Jagadish Rane, Ph.D
    Head, School of Drought Stress Management,
    National Institute of Abiotic Stress Management(NIASM),
    Malegaon, Baramati-413115. Pune, India.
    Phone: 91-2112-254057
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017

Share This Page