What is a Farm Pond?
A farm pond is a large hole dug out in the earth, usually square or rectangular in shape, which harvests rainwater and stores it for future use. It has an inlet to regulate inflow and an outlet to discharge excess water. The pond is surrounded by a small bund, which prevents erosion on the banks of the pond. The size and depth depend on the amount of land available, the type of soil, the farmer’s water requirements, the cost of excavation, and the possible uses of the excavated earth. Water from the farm pond is conveyed to the fields manually, by pumping, or by both methods.
The selection of a site for a farm pond is critical in maximizing its storage capacity. . The pond must be located in a corner of a plot of land so that it does not disturb farm operations like plowing. It must be located at least 3m away from other farmers’ fields common lands. The slope of the land and the slope’s direction must also be carefully evaluated.
A test pit is dug out before finalizing the location and depth of excavation. The excavation and transportation of earth can be accomplished with a combination of manual labour or with machines like excavators and tractors.
Soil conditions must be carefully considered. Excavation in areas with hard clay soil, such as Ramnad district, is very difficult and expensive using manual labour.
Use of machines for excavation and transportation is the best method in this context, with human labour used for levelling, bund formation, and construction.
Advantages of Farm Ponds
- They provide water to start growing crops, without waiting for rain to fall.
- They provide irrigation water during dry spells between rainfalls. This increases the yield, the number of crops in one year, and the diversity of crops that can be grown.
- Bunds can be used to raise vegetables and fruit trees,thus supplying the farm household with an additional source of income and of nutritious food.
- Farmers are able to apply adequate farm inputs and perform farming operations at the appropriate time, thus increasing their productivity and their confidence in farming.
- They check soil erosion and minimizes siltation of waterways and reservoirs.
- They supplies water for domestic purposes and livestock
- They promote fish rearing.
- They recharge the ground water.
- They improve drainage.
- The excavated earth has a very high value and can be used to enrich soil in the fields, leveling land, and constructing farm roads.
Limitations of Farm Ponds
- They reduce the water flow to other people’s tanks and ponds situated in lower-lying areas.
- They occupy a large portion of farmers’ lands. However, this can be compensated for by rearing fish in the pond, effectively utilizing the bunds for vegetable and/or tree plantations, etc.
Lessons from the field
- Different sizes of farm ponds can be constructed, depending on the purpose (plant nursery, water supply for livestock, etc).
- The cost of a farm pond varies from Rs.8, 000 to Rs. 60, 000/-
- Owners of farm ponds should not be allowed to divert water from common waterways, tank feeder channels, etc.
- Regular upkeep and maintenance of the farm pond is very important.
- Farmers should be taught about the multiple uses of a farm pond and should be involved in various activities to maximize their benefits.
- While constructing a farm pond, approval from the adjoining land-holder is compulsory.
- Farm ponds in an area should be constructed in a cascade fashion for better performance.
- Small and marginal farmers can own farm ponds individually or a group of people can share a common farm pond.
- Construction of a farm pond is a bankable activity and it should be promoted. Microfinance and self-help groups can give loans for farm pond construction.
- Regular monitoring of a farm pond’s effect on water flow to low-lying water harvesting structures is very important.
- Even after erosion prevention measures have been put in place, there will be runoff from farm ponds into the fields. This excess water may be collected if percolation ponds are constructed in the appropriate places.