Science-led interventions in integrated watersheds to improve smallholders’ livelihoods

Existing large crop yield gaps between farmers’ fields in rainfed areas and the achievable yields are abridged through integrated watershed management during 2002-2007, while improving farmers’ livelihoods also. In addition to water shortages, emerging widespread deficiencies of multiple micro- and secondary nutrients such as sulphur (S), boron (B) and zinc (Zn) along with nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) are holding back the productivity potential through inefficient utilization of limited available water. Soil test-based balanced nutrient application of deficient SBZn plus NP in fields in watersheds recorded 70 to 119% (2100 kg ha?1 in maize, 660 kg ha?1 in groundnut, 640 kg ha?1 in mungbean and 1070 kg ha?1 in sorghum) improvement in crop productivity along with additional returns varying from Rs 16,050/- to Rs 28,160/- ha?1 over the farmers’ practice (only NP). Landform management to alleviate waterlogging proved effective intervention to manage high clay Vertisols for higher soybean and groundnut productivity by 13 to 27% (340 to 350 kg ha?1 in soybean and 160 to 250 kg ha?1 in groundnut) over the farmers’ practice. However, the integrated approach of balanced nutrition and landform management plus improved cultivar was the best option in increasing sunflower productivity by 182% (1600 kg ha?1 in sunflower) over farmers’ management (control). Adoption of these soil-water-crop interventions in target watersheds abridged yield gaps by 12 to 96% in groundnut (160 to 1280 kg ha?1), 29 to 100% (240 to 1130 kg ha?1) in pigeonpea and 0 to 100% (0 to 1175 kg ha?1) in chickpea. The impact of watershed interventions was seen in farm-based activities like improved milk production and incomes. The watershed programs alleviated migration in the catchments by improving the five capitals viz. human, financial, social, physical and natural.