Importance of farm pond for agriculture and farmers in Manipur

Dr L Kanta Singh, Dr Ch Basudha, Dr Lydia Zimik, Dr Arati N, Dr S Roma Devi, K Lily Rangnamei, Dr W Elizabeth Devi *

In the current situation, while the Manipur struggles with the issue of water scarcity, farmers also experience issues with farming, such as low crop output and lower income owing to unpredictability in the rain and water cycle. Uncertainty in the distribution of rainfall is a result of climate changes.

As a result, little rainfall is occurring in high rainfall areas, and vice versa. Hence, farmers can only grow crops during the rainy season throughout the year. They can only think about the crop during the rainy season without water. Thus farmers need water in order to use the arable land resource to cultivate high-value crops.

Farmers have utilised river water for irrigation since the beginning of time, but farm ponds have just come to be recognised as a significant supply of water for farmers.

Farm ponds are a type of water storage tank or reservoir used to collect rainwater from agricultural land for irrigation, livestock feed, and fish farming. By 2022, the Indian Government wanted to treble the income of farmers. One method for promoting water conservation is the use of farm ponds.

Most of the rain flows off the surface. Not only does runoff waste water, but it also washes away priceless top soil. Farm ponds assist farmers in storing and using water for irrigation. There are numerous Government programmes that give farmers financial aid for building agricultural ponds. Farm ponds help farmers raise their income and the productivity of their land by 200%.

Farm ponds are simple reservoir-like structures or tanks used to store surface runoff generated by catchment regions. Farm ponds are water-harvesting structures designed to meet a range of agricultural needs, such as the supply of water for irrigation, the manufacture of livestock feed, and the raising of fish, among others. Farm ponds also significantly contribute to flood control in the area by being constructed in large numbers.

Also, the agricultural ponds are utilised to store monsoon water, which is then used for a number of other purposes, including crop irrigation. A farm pond is also very important in rainfed farming.

Benefits of Farm Pond

o Increase in farm productivity means more crops.
o Increase in land productivity as well value of agriculture land.
o With availability of water, increase chances to grow cash crops through irrigation technologies.
o Increase in income of farmers.
o Farmer can do fish farming in the pond, which will provide them more opportunity to grow their agriculture business.
o Improve the quality of crop yield.
o Farm pond provides water to growing crops, without waiting for rainfall. ·
o Farm pond provides water for irrigation, even when there is no rain.
o Farm pond provides reduce soil erosion.
o Farm pond recharges ground water.
o Farm pond improves drainage.
o The excavated soil can be used to enrich soil in fields and levelling lands.
o They provide water for domestic purposes and other livestock.

Types of farm ponds

There are two types of farm pond, first is embankment type and second is dugout type.

Embankment type farm pond

Embankment type farm ponds are constructed across the stream or water course where land slope is from gentle to steep. An embankment of earth is constructed as per volume of water to be stored. Farm ponds with an embankment style are typically built across a stream or watercourse. The basic component of these ponds is an earthen embankment, whose dimensions are determined mostly by the amount of water to be stored.

These agricultural ponds are typically built where there is a range in the land’s slope from gentle to moderately steep, as well as where the stream valleys are sufficiently depressed to provide for the most storage with the least amount of earthwork.

Dug out type farm pond

Dug out type farm pond are constructed on flat land area by excavating the soil from the ground. The size and depth of the farm pond depend upon catchment area and volume of water to be stored. These types of farm pond are used for irrigation and fish farming purposes. Farm ponds of the dug-out variety are constructed using rainfall, land slope, catchment area, run-off, and seepage characteristics.

Seepage is taken into consideration when designing the pond. Construction of a farm pond is impractical in places with sandy soil content since seepage loss is significantly greater there.

Farm ponds of the dug-out variety are built by removing soil from the ground, primarily in flat locations. The intended water storage capacity of the pond, which is nearly entirely attained via excavation, is used to determine the depth of the pond. This kind of pond can be used, especially when only a modest amount of water is needed.

In addition to the aforementioned two types, there are two more types of farm ponds, namely spring fed and off-stream storage pond, depending on the sources of water that can be used to feed them. Data on rainfall, runoff, evaporation, and seepage are fundamentally needed to construct a dugout pond.

One of the key considerations in pond design is “seepage.” For instance, in places with high sandy levels, seepage loss is substantially higher, making the construction of farm ponds impracticable. Although, everywhere there is seepage owing to ponding of water but it should be under favourable limit.

When estimating the minimum storage, it is typically advised to allow seepage loss at a rate of 1 m of water depth each year. The depth of farm pond also fluctuates as per climatic condition.

Typical average pond depth based on climatic condition

Sl. No. Climate Average depth (m)
1. Wet 2.00
2. Humid 2.40-2.80
3. Moist sub-humid 2.80-3.15
4. Dry sub-humid 3.15-4.00
5. Semi-arid 4.00-4.80
6. Arid 4.80-5.50

A general method to design a dugout farm pond is presented under the following steps:

1. Get the essential information about the location.
(a) Rainfall, evaporation, temperature etc.
(b) Topography
(c) Agricultural practices
(d) Livestock etc.

Determine the pond’s needed storage capacity.

On the basis of agricultural practices and number of livestock, it is decided. The amount of water anticipated to lose by evaporation and seepage, plus about 10% more to adjust certain unforeseen water losses from the pond, is also added to establish pond storage capacity.

Assess the farm pond’s catchment area to provide the necessary storage. The area’s topographic map is used to carry out the task.

Select a desirable pond depth.

Make field investigations of the sites, selected. Normally, the following considerations are made to assess the most desirable one.
(i) Should be easily accessible.
(ii) It should require less removal of trees.
(iii) The site should have suitable foundation conditions for the dam.
(iv) It should not have excessive seepage through the foundation.
(v) The site should have suitable materials for dam construction in nearby areas.
(vi) There should be a natural waterway to use as emergency spillway.

Based on above necessary conditions, the site which proved preferable in all respects is picked for pond construction.

6. To ensure the required storage capacity and depth of water, determine the pond and dam dimensions for the chosen site.
7. Calculate the farm pond’s maximum depth, taking extra depth into account for sedimentation and excessive seepage.
8. Fix the emergency spillway’s crest, which is typically fixed at the pond’s highest level.
Farm ponds can be cost-effective structures that can transform livelihoods of many farmers of Manipur. They can help enhance water control, contribute to agriculture intensification and boost farm incomes.

However, this is possible only if they act as rainwater harvesting structures. The small holding farmers in the Manipur currently use a family farming method, but there are always water scarcity problem occurred at various levels.

The adoption of scientific farm pond for management of various components will not only increase the effectiveness of resource use in the current production system but will also help move small-holder family farming production systems one step closer to sustainability in the future by minimising its negative effects on the environment through proper water recycling.

* Dr L Kanta Singh, Dr Ch Basudha, Dr Lydia Zimik, Dr Arati N, Dr S Roma Devi, K Lily Rangnamei, Dr W Elizabeth Devi wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on March 23 2023.

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