Unconventional dam technology inspires hope for agricultural land

agriicarKOLKATA/DELHI:  With hactres of fallow land lying uncultivated for years, the farmers of Odisha now will not have to bother about their cultivations anymore! The five rubber dams designed and installed under the National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP), under Indian Council Agricultural Research (ICAR) at different locations in Mendhasal, Baghamari, Badapokharia and Chandeswar in Khurda District of Odisha have proved more than a boon to the farmers of these areas.
Specially developed and designed, earthquake resistant, rubber dams help in providing irrigation in critical flowering stage of paddy and water stored above the rubber dam also helps in raising rice nursery which helps in transplanting during the recommended period.
The stored water in rubber dam helped in timely transplanting of rice and irrigated 12 hactres of rice fields as per need at Chandeswar-I Dam site and around 16 hactres at Chandeswar-II Dam site, NAIP sources said.Due to this effort, rice cultivation and production increased considerably in this area to the surprise of the local agricultural experts.
During  the last year summer, farmers close to the rubber dam sites grew vegetable such as water melon, cowpea, cucumber, tomato, ladies finger, etc. in an area of about 5 hactres which otherwise used to remain fallow using the water stored in the dam.And productivity of vegetable crop such as brinjal, water melon and cowpea showed an average increase yield of 30 percent.
During the dry spell experienced in Baghamari last year, the stored water in rubber dam was diverted to the right side of the dam through diversion irrigation channel to around 40 hactres of paddy field and a number of farmers reaped the benefit of the system, admit even Odisha State Government officials.
With an innovative hydraulic structure, the rubber dam mainly comprise four parts, viz. a concrete foundation with head wall extension, side wall and wing wall similar to a check dam; rubberized fabric dam body; rubber sheet with bottom and side of the check dam for anchoring; inlet/outlet pipe system for inflation and deflation of the dam depending on water size status and a pump for filling water for inflation.
“The flexi-check dam or rubber dam is an inflatable structure built across a stream used for water conservation, flood control and regular flow of water in the stream,’’ empathised a ICAR scientist.“When it is inflated, it serves as a check dam/ weir. When deflated, it functions as a flood mitigation and sediment flushing device,’’ he added.
The variable height or head of the dam, which can be increased or decreased as per requirement helps in regulating the depth of flow in the irrigation diversion channel in the upstream side of the check dam or in irrigation canals and distributaries.
The main advantages of rubber dam over the conventional concrete check dams “are its ability for better water conservation, prevent soil erosion, flood control during heavy rains, storing of water during dry spell etc,’’ list ICAR scientists.Significantly, the rubber dam also happens to be earthquake resistant and its life is minimum twenty five years, ICAR scientist said.
The new experiment’s success story in Odisha aiding sustainable crop production is now being emulated by Meghalaya, Koraput in Odisha, Jharkand, Uttarakhand Gujarat, Maharashtra and other states.With Inputs from Odisha .

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