Water Conservation

Exploring low-cost and sustainable techniques of water conservation for farming became an existential question for Kishore Bharati as the revenue land given to it by the state government had sandy soil (sehra) which had extremely low capacity to hold water. Most of the soils of the Banjhedi Block also had similar characteristics, thereby resulting in the generally impoverished economy of the region. Two important lines of exploration were pursued in developing ways and means of water conservation. First, in a ten-acre sandy plot of fruit-bearing trees, an earthen picture (matka) was placed half under the surface near the root system of the trees. once filled up with water from the ring wells flowing in open channels covered with a plastic sheet, the water would trickle down slowly out of the natural pores of the pitcher to the root system. There would be no wastage as the rate of flow of water out of the pitcher would be automatically regulated by the water tension built up in the soil due to both evaporation and seepage. The water in the pitcher would last as long as a week, while the irrigation channel would dry up within a few hours of the water supply being stopped. The low-cost technology was later extended to the plantation of saplings in developing a 40-acre mixed forest. This technology became an effective alternative to the costly and complex drip-irrigation system. Both the 10-acre orchard and the 40-acre mixed forest attracted wide public attention. The second line of exploration grew out of the crisis of fodder for the cattle. We adopted the technology of developing a drought-resistant pasture from the Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute, Jhansi (U.P.). This involved planting a row of drought-resistant varieties of grass alternating with a row of drought-resistant legumes. In the early stages, we used the low-cost technology of pitchers to ensure that the loss of plantation would be minimized but it became unnecessary later since both the grasses and the legumes could survive well due to their drought-resistant characteristics. Finally, we had a flourishing pasture of nutritious fodder despite the sandy soil with low water-retention capacity.