JalTara is a massively scalable, low-cost approach to save rural farmland from both drought and floods
The JalTara Approach
Groundwater reserves are in free fall globally.
The US loses over 25 trillion liters of groundwater every year, especially across the southwest including California, Texas, and Arizona.
India is one of the worst hit nations, extracting over 25% of our scarce global groundwater resources – nearly 240 trillion liters of groundwater annually. To make matters worse, India only stores 6% of its annual rainfall and a whopping 78% of the annual monsoon rainfall flows into the ocean.
This drastic imbalance between supply and demand causes severe groundwater depletion – water tables have been dropping drastically and farmers have to dig deeper wells every year to reach the depleting aquifers. This water scarcity results in poor crop yields, soil degradation, reduced farmer incomes and mass migration out of villages.
Decades of chemical farming and use of heavy equipment has made the farmland earth denser and more compact. This has significantly reduced the ability of the earth to absorb water quickly – in some cases by as much as 81%.
Compounding the challenge is the more volatile nature of the weather – when several months worth of rain pours down in a week causing floods and crop spoilage.
Hard-packed, top layers of earth behave like concrete and make it hard for rainwater to percolate & recharge groundwater – resulting in both severe floods AND droughts.
The JalTara concept was sparked by the question – How do we rapidly transform the earth from impervious concrete to an absorbent sponge?
The answer was to dig “large numbers of small recharge pits” to allow rainwater to bypass the dense top layers of earth and flow down to recharge underground aquifers.
Thus the unique JalTara approach is to dig:
- Simple recharge pits – About 6 ft deep, 4 ft square filled with rocks and pebbles
- At the lowest point within every arable acre-plot of farm land
- In very large numbers (~ 500 pits per village)
After digging nearly 45,000 such recharge pits over the last three years, we have demonstrated that JalTara improves the water table, increases farmer incomes and virtually eliminates crop spoilage due to waterlogged fields. Moreover, JalTara is the only approach that uniquely protects the farmer from both droughts AND flood related crop spoilage from heavy isolated rains.