India receives almost 75 per cent of the rainfall between the months of June and September each year. Although, the resulting groundwater has long been relied upon by farmers for irrigation, past few years have witnessed extreme weather conditions ranging from devastating droughts to fatal floods.
These extreme weather conditions coupled with an ever-expanding population, and an increase in demand for groundwater, has resulted in fast decreasing water levels. There has been a rapid decline of water storage in surface reservoirs, resulting in the repeated disruption of agricultural practices. It is an urgent need now to explore large-scale rainwater harvesting and conservation methods in both urban and rural areas, which will help recharge and maintain a sustainable groundwater balance.
How Monsanto implements sustainable rainwater harvesting practices
With a focus on sustainable agricultural practices, and to ensure optimal groundwater levels, Monsanto is developing systems to optimize water use at the sites along with providing farmers with tools to help them adapt in times of water scarcity.
Monsanto’s site at Hyderabad Patancheru was facing water shortages for the past few years. Previously, bore wells provided sufficient water for irrigation during the dry season. However, due to a drastic reduction in the groundwater table, the wells’ output had dwindled to lower than normal. To compensate, crops were watered less frequently. This is an excellent short-term survival plan. But to ensure a long-term solution, the team decided to channel the rainwater, falling on the buildings, into harvest pits, which then fed the wells and helped increase the water levels. The team has also installed two rainwater harvest pits near the wells and used PVC pipes to channel runoffs directly to the pits. Thus, rainwater from the building tops is deposited and used when required.
The success of Monsanto’s rain harvesting solutions
Environment-friendly pits were constructed which have shown good results. Water from the two nearby bore wells meets daily consumption needs even though the planting area is 25 per cent larger than the previous year. Over 5.5 million litres of rainwater has been recycled.
These rainwaters harvesting pits also help improve the quality of the groundwater by dilution, and the pits reduce runoffs that choke drains and reduces flooding in nearby roads.
Harvest pit at Patancheru, Hyderabad
The team continues to evaluate ways to reduce, reuse and recycle water across all Monsanto India sites. The rainwater harvesting pit program is just one of many water optimization initiatives.
Congratulations to the India team for their efforts which have supported Monsanto’s goal of achieving a 25 per cent increase in irrigation water efficiency of global seed production by 2020