Ayyapa Masagi is called as Water Gandhi, Doctor of Borewell, Jamnalal Bajaj Awardee.
Water Literacy Foundation
347, Kallappa Layout
Amruthahalli, Sahakarnagar Post,
He is a water and agriculture expert .
An unassuming man, Masagi says India is currently categorised under ‘water stressed’ countries with several areas being perpetually drought-prone. But the country has enough potential to emerge as a water-rich nation.
“Currently 2 to 3% of rainwater percolates into the ground nationally.
If we can harvest around 35% of the annual precipitation and reuse or recycle grey water from homes we need not look for grandiose river-linking projects or billion-dollar irrigation schemes,” he claims.
Water recharge and conservation are the need of hour.
If it is not done then we will lose 16-18 lakhs liter of water per acre and 3-4 tons of soil per acre every year.
I propose to save 30-40% of total rain that would be adequate for our nation to become water sustainable.
Masagi’s concept to capture flood water is simple: collect, filter and store rainwater underground. “Today, most farm lands are flat and when rain falls, water doesn’t stay.
The surface soil can only absorb a little amount of water,” he says.
We cannot trap all rainwater but just capturing 20% would make the farmers self-sufficient.
In total, we have four water namely surface water, sub-surface or sub-soil water, deep-soil water and ground water.
To recharge all these four water we need pit-based rainwater harvesting systems.
It is the structure made of boulders, sand, mud and debris.
When it rains, water moves through the debris and sand.
Once the soil is saturated, the water will bubble back up through the sand and debris to form natural springs.
In this way it slowly charges all four water aquifers.
It also prevents water evaporation.
He explained that every farmland should have 3 ups and 3 downs.
This implies if there is heavy rains then expect the crop yield from upper regions.
With scanty rains expect the crop yield in low-lying areas.
Lastly if very less rains then expect crop yield from the lowest level.
Based on this understanding I have developed the ground water recharging system.
Slope Farm Land
Farmers must make compartments (bunds) on their land depending upon the flow of water and slope.
According to the slope land extent 4 acres, 3 acres, 2 acres and 1 acre compartment bunding to be done.
Flat Farm Land
If the land is completely flat then make the bund of
90 *180 meter,
80 * 170 meter,
Approximate cost would be Rs. 2500 or make pits of size 1m*1m*1m deep.
40 pits are required for 1 acre.
Pit must be made in zigzag.
Distance between pits must be 20 feet.
Pits must be filled with 90% debris or boulders or 40 MM gravels and 10% sand plus fine gravels.
In this way every drop of water is restored in the land and not allowed to flow out because it shall be conserved in the pits.
These are permanent structures.
Approximate cost would be Rs. 20,000 per acre.
It is one time investment and later on no monitoring or maintenance required.
Small and marginal farmers can hold the rain water in their farmland by making deep burrows.
They could also make ‘patta bunding’.
It costs around Rs. 700 per acre but should be constructed every year.
According to the land slope, the size varies from
60 feet length x 60 feet width ,
60 feet length x 40 feet width to
60 feet length x 30 feet width.
Minimum 6 patta bundings to be constructed.
Based on your experience and customer testimonials with this crop yield is assured.
These simple bunds can be constructed by the farmers themselves with locally available materials and labor.
Other measures are nala bund construction, stream water harvesting, tree based agriculture, lakes construction and direct borewell recharging.
Besides, Masagi have improvised traditional drip irrigation with sub-surface drip irrigation.
The in-line lateral pipe is installed 7 inches below the surface level.
Dripper should be covered with plastic paper (polyurethane sheet). Using this system 1000 liters of water is sufficient for 1 acre horticulture crops per week.
People who harvest rain water and grey water will only survive in the future.
If we harvest rain and grey water then we can celebrate festival everyday if we allow it to flow then we have to face the droughts.
Masagi Water Technique in Farm Land
In order to minimise waste, he advises drip irrigation through a maze of tubes that take the water to the roots of the plants.
He dug 32 soak pits (10ft. x 10ft. x 10ft.) and constructed 11 infiltration wells in his four-acre farm in Holavanahalli (in Koratagere taluk) in Tumakuru district, 82 km north of Bengaluru.
This arrangement allows him to conserve enough water to draw 80,000 liters of the precious liquid everyday throughout the year whereby nearly 7,000 trees are irrigated through drip network and sprinklers.
Masagi has honed his skills through practice and has perfected numbers.
According to him 4,000 liters of water if collected over an acre (i.e., around 44,000 sq. ft. area) will fill it ankle-deep (i.e., 4 inches deep).
So all that water he draws in a day can fill up a nearly two-acre farm with ankle-deep water.