Building resilient agricultural system through groundwater management interventions in degraded landscapes of Bundelkhand region, Central India

The study was carried out at community scale watershed in one of the fragile ecologies of Central India. This paper quantifies the impact of rainwater management (RWM) interventions on major water balance components, irrigation use, crop intensification and energy consumption and their interrelationships. RWM interventions harvested additional 35 mm of surface runoff in various masonry structures and facilitated groundwater recharge from 720 mm rainfall received. The net groundwater recharge during monsoon season was estimated 75−80 mm; out of this, 25 % (15−20 mm) was used in kharif and 75 % (50−60 mm) in rabi season. Groundwater recharge largely took place in wet and normal years due to RWM interventions, which supported for meeting freshwater demand in recurring dry years. Increased groundwater recharge helped to enhance cropping intensity from 120 % to 180 % by converting significant fallow lands into productive cultivation. The time required to refill dug wells decreased by 50 % with every one meter increment in hydraulic head. Therefore, well recovery period reduced minimum by 50 % after the project interventions. The study shows a huge untapped potential for sustainable crop intensification by adopting science-based natural resource management approach in fragile eco regions of the semi-arid tropics.