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Watershed First page: First page of this web site
Watershed day: Appeal to celebrate 15th February as watershed day
List of Technologies: Links to other techniques used in Watershed

Different techniques tried in Naigaon village of Gram Gourav Pratishthan, in village Ralegan Shindi and in village Adgaon where watershed development programme was undertaken; can be mentioned as under with their pros and corns.


NAME OF THE TECHNIQUE : At Ralegan Shindi an innovative method of soil conservation is adopted i.e. tree plantation on hill slope along with contour trenching.

NATURE AND PURPOSE OF THE TECHNIQUE: At Naigaon village, the 16 hect. experimental plot developed by Pani Panchayat was very undulating and sloppy. In village Ralegan Shindi about 30% area is undulating. Soil erosion in this area was much more due to sloppy land. Along the spurs of the hill it is not possible to construct any type of structure. In this area the erosion is of the type of sheet erosion, where a thin layer of top soil is lost during rain. To avoid this phenomena, the area was converted into lush green grassland. Along with grass, the velocity of flowing water was checked by small trenches in staggered manner.

Grassland and trenches have helped in soil and water conservation. When there is heavy rainfall, grass acts as a shock absorber and checks velocity of rain drops. This ultimately reduces chances of soil erosion. When water starts flowing along the fields grass and trenches become obstruction for it. Due to the obstruction to the flowing water, velocity reduces and water is collected in the trenches. This allows infiltration of water into the soil. Thus grassland development with trenches along the hill slope helps in soil and water conservation.

WHO WILL ADOPT THIS TECHNIQUE: In Maharashtra state percentage of barren land on the hill top and along the hill slope is quite large. As mentioned above soil cover in this part of land is very less; and agriculture on this land is not possible. People having such type of land, along hill spur can adopt this technique. Also this technique can be adopted on common land or government land.

WHY THIS TECHNIQUE SHOULD BE ADOPTED: Instead of uneconomical agriculture farmers can grow grass in this hilly area and can use that as a fodder for cattle. Farmers can go for dairy development if good quantity and quality of grass is available. Marginal farmers can start small primary industry of compost. Thus he can get some economic returns from the land. On common land village as a whole can work for grassland development and trenching with the intention that this work will increase water availability in their wells. Further degradation of the common or government land will stop. For soil and water conservation this activity will help. Plantation on common land will satisfy basic need of fuel wood.

HOW TO ADOPT THE TECHNIQUE: Adoption of this technique is very simple, cost effective and this does not require any hi-tech knowledge. For trenching, first step is to mark contours on the slopes. The next step is to mark trenches along the contours. Then trenches can be dug along the contours. Width, length and depth can be decided depending upon depth of soil at that place. Spacing of trench row will depend upon slope of land. As slope increases distance bet two rows will be less and vice versa. Along the slopes grassland can be developed with the help of villagers themselves. Trees which will satisfy basic needs of a village will be planted along the down stream side of the trench. Water stored in the trench for a few days and recharge in the soil will be helpful to the trees. Protection of the area with social fencing helps in natural regeneration of the local grass and trees.

For social fencing villagers should come forward, discuss among themselves for development of their village and adopt method of stall feeding for their cattle. If due to certain reasons natural grass regeneration is not good then seeds of some grass and of the trees can be spread.

RESULTS AFTER ADOPTION OF A TECHNIQUE: The results can be stated as under: 1. Soil along the hill slope is protected from erosion due to flowing water. Thus work of soil conservation is done without any special hi-tech technique. 2. Huge biomass is generated which can be used for cattle as fodder, can be used as an organic manure. 3. As flowing water is obstructed, rate of infiltration is increased. In Ralegan Shindi rate of run-off water is decreased, which means there is infiltration of water into the ground. This also can be seen as water levels of wells are increased. 4. Income level from waste land increased.

PROBLEMS IN ADOPTION: It is very difficult to stop grazing and convince the farmers to convert agricultural lands into tree plantation. There are several reasons for it. Main thing is that people are not ready to wait for a long to harvest trees. Also they are not worried about erosion of the land which is not owned by them.

SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM: In Khalad village where Pani Panchayat is working, the land belongs to the trust and so there was no problem of convincing the people and the trust could wait till harvesting of the trees. In Ralegan Shindi trenching is done on land belonging to the government and on the lands of the farmers who are having big land holdings.

In Naigaon all the area is fenced with the help of thorny agave or sisal plantation which is also used for rope making.

Also meetings with the people for awareness about the erosion is required. When people are aware of the yield after few years then implementation of the programme is easy. This aspect of tree plantation was realised in Ralegan Shindi.

Key factors in success: Factors contributing success can be as below: 1. Local technique, easy to adopt. 2. External input in to the village is zero or in the form of meagre finance for seeds only. 3. Participation of villagers in each and every stage of implementation of the programme. 4. Huge employment generating activity. 5. Whole development considering village as a unit.

Centre for Management of Local Resources
Pune, Maharashtra