A pilot project on soil conservation

In the Bidanagere micro-watershed of the water-starved Hebbur in Tumakuru district, more than 330 billion litres of water flows away as runoff during the rains, taking away with it top soil and nutrients.

A simple series of bunds and water structures can prevent this, and the Sujala programme has chosen this, among 12 watersheds, as the pilot to demonstrate the power of extending scientific knowledge. Hebbur in Tumakuru district has been selected to implement the programme, for which the World Bank provides 70% of the funds while the State government puts in the remaining 30%.

Jayaswamy, Joint Director of Agriculture, said the information obtained from Land Resource Inventory maps is used to create water and soil conservation structures. “Through rainwater harvesting, 80% of the water can be seeped into the soil and into the groundwater reserve, while 20% will flow into streams, small tanks, and ponds,” he said.

The existing weak bunds and gau katte (small ponds) are being strengthened while check-dams are being built. Plans also include distribution of suitable horticultural saplings and livestock to farmers to increase income levels. However, with the budget being just Rs. 7,600 a hectare, officials say a comprehensive development plan was curtailed.

Eventually, when the programme is extended in implementation, Sujala aims to increase farm productivity by up to 22%, bringing at least a fifth of the fallow lands back to agriculture. Similarly, soil and water conservation can be made up to 65% more efficient through these structures.

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