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Mission Kakatiya, the Telangana government’s flagship programme aimed at restoring minor irrigation sources like tanks and other water bodies to help small and marginal farmers, has not just increased water retention capacity by de-silting, but has also improved on-farm moisture retention capacity.
When local farmers used silt lifted from the water bodies in their respective fields, it was noticed that moisture retention went up by four to seven days, according to a pilot study by ICRISAT (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics), recently.
The study in water bodies where works were completed showed that the addition of tank silt by 50 to 375 tractor loads per hectare improved available water content by 0.002 to 0.032 g in the soil.
An increase in clay was noticed from 20 to 40 per cent in the root zone. A decrease in coarse and fine sand was also noticed, while there was no change in pH, EC and organic carbon.
Importantly, an ‘appreciable change’ was observed in available Nitrogen, Potassium, Phosphorus and a moderate reduction in Sulphur.
Also read: >Bringing five lakh hectares under micro irrigation a distant dream
Senior officials explained that the improvement in clay content would reduce the losses of nutrients through leaching because of improved Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) or ability to absorb nutrients.
The findings were presented to the Central government officials when the Irrigation Minister, T. Harish Rao, and other officials involved in monitoring the works went to New Delhi a few days ago. The silt addition is also expected to help reduce the chemicals by 30 per cent and also lead to a decrease in the number of wettings required for the crops. It was realised that the fresh silt-received plot had a higher plant population and also higher plant height, resulting in increase in net income of the farmers.
Savings on fertilizers and pesticides ranging from Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 3,750 per hectare in case of cotton (a major crop here) were observed due to an increase in the yield to the tune of 1,000 kg per hectare. Tanks de-silting, feeder channels re-sectioning, repairs to bunds, water sluices and weirs, increasing of full tank level, etc., under Mission Kakatiya are to help bridge the 63 per cent of existing gap ayacut.
Increase in farmers’ income, crop intensification and diversification, fisheries/livestock development, rise in groundwater levels are among the objectives while plantation of toddy trees on bund slopes is expected to strengthen bund plus to generate income to the rural poor.
>Status of micro irrigation in Telangana till 2013-14
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46,531 minor irrigation sources and other water bodies have irrigation potential of 25 lakh acres
But only 37 % is irrigated leaving a gap of 63% irrigation potential created.
Minor irrigation sources are ideal for decentralised water harvesting on a watershed approach.
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