Bonus crops on bunds

Bonus crops on bunds

Miscellany

The yield was about eight quintals per acre and fetched him an income of Rs 10,000. But, once he took up farming on trenches and bunds, he witnessed a turnaround. National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) in association with Bhoomi Sustainable Development Society of Chikmagalur took up the watershed development project in Bukkasagara, two years ago.

Thousands of acres of land including that of Parvathappa were brought under the project. As part of the project, farmers were told to construct trenches and bunds in their fields to allow percolation of rainwater. However, farmers were reluctant to make space for trenches and bunds. But Bhoomi eventually convinced farmers about the importance of these structures.

Farmers were taken on demonstration tours and they changed their mind once they were convinced that growing crops on trenches and bunds yield significant revenue, according to Bhoomi’s Project Director K Ravi.

While all farmers agreed to construct trenches and bunds, none came forward to grow crops on them. But Parvathappa took the initiative. He constructed a bund with a 270-metre depth trench. It rained a few days later and the rainwater percolated into the trench. After the first shower, Parvathappa sowed four kilograms of tur seeds provided by Bhoomi on the bund, in two rows. Simultaneously, he sowed ragi on two acres.

He stopped using chemical fertilisers, and substituted them with organic manure (farmyard manure). Tur sown in September was ready for harvest in January. The crop was harvested 15 days after the ragi harvest. “I got a yield of about 80 kg tur by growing crops on four-five bunds. Neither did I put in greater efforts nor did I spend money on it,” Parvathappa said. The ragi yield increased to about ten quintals.

Soil fertility has increased with the percolation of water in trenches. The economics of farming on bunds and trenches should not be measured only in terms of increase in yield.

“You should also think about how much water percolates into the soil, and factor in the lower inputs, expenses and increase in soil fertility,” Ravi says. Percolation of rainwater stabilises humidity in the soil. Leaves and other organic waste are dumped into the trenches to be converted into compost. Such compost supplies additional nutrients to crops.

The beneficiaries under the scheme have been provided financial assistance to dig farm ponds. They have also been supplied saplings of fruit-yielding crops to be sown on bunds. Water in farm ponds is being utilised for sapota and mango grown on bunds.

Indirect benefit

A cubic meter of the trench soaks in 1,000 litres of rain water. The trenches built under the NABARD scheme are of bigger dimensions (six metres in length, 1.2 m width and 0.45 metres in depth) and hence percolates 3,240 litres of water on one rainy day, per trench.

A farm land holds more than ten trenches and on a rough calculation, harvests about three lakh litres of water during each spell of rain. This prevents erosion of fertile topsoil and checks expenses on supplying soil to the farm before each monsoon.

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