Students develop low-cost way to improve crop yield in India

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Washington, Jun 4: A group of American students led by an Indian has developed a low-cost way to improve the yield of agricultural produce for the farmers and reduce the use of fertilizers in Telangana through desilting of ponds.

"A group of students from here in a year-long study in Telangana have found that silt from ponds reduces the use of fertilizers by 36 per cent and increases the crop yield by nearly 50 per cent," The University of Michigan said. The idea for the project started with Adithya Dahagama, a graduate student in the University of Michigan Natural Resources and Environment School.

agriculture

Dahagama, whose father is a farmer in the region, worked with the Hyderabad-based non-profit organisation on a similar project before coming to the university.

"There's been no comprehensive study conducted to see if silt application worked, and what were the successes," said Dahagama, who is pursuing a dual degree at SNRE and the Ford School of Public Policy. The ponds, which were built in Telangana around the 13th century, store rainwater from monsoon season and form an intricate part of farming in the area. Over time, silt has been filling the ponds, reducing their capacity, he said in a statement issued by the university yesterday.

Most of the desilting of the ponds happens during the summer months when the tanks are dry. With a mix of manual and mechanical means, the silt is dug out and then transported on tractors to the nearby fields.

"The most striking finding is that it reduces greenhouse emissions from less fertilizer use by 50-to-90 percent," said John Monnat, a graduate student in the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Local officials have noticed the results.

Last year, the Telangana government introduced Mission Kakatiya—a large-scale program to desilt 46,000 ponds over the next five years. The impact will be felt across 11,000 villages and will affect 21 million villagers, the university said.

PTI

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