As climate change intensifies each year, drought has become a critical global challenge for farmers. In 2023, the Amazon basin experienced its lowest rainfall levels in four decades, significantly impacting its rich biodiversity. Similarly, India, particularly Karnataka, is grappling with severe drought conditions, leading to widespread rural distress. This ongoing drought is attributed to a combination of factors, including below-average rainfall and unusually elevated temperatures.

The United Nations has declared drought a global emergency of unprecedented scale, emphasising the urgent need for sustainable land management and effective water usage to enhance resilience against future droughts. These strategies are essential for mitigating the impact of drought conditions and supporting the sustainability of agricultural communities worldwide.

Effects Of drought on agriculture

Deterioration of Crop Quality: Fruits and vegetables become smaller, less flavorful, and nutritionally deficient.

Water Scarcity for Livestock: Reduced availability of drinking water and forage leads to dehydration, health issues, and decreased milk production in animals.

Increased Plant Vulnerability: Drought weakens plants, making them more susceptible to diseases and pests.

Soil Degradation: Loss of soil moisture contributes to erosion, reduced soil fertility, and the loss of beneficial soil organisms, turning arable land barren.

Economic Impact: Reduced productivity of crops and livestock leads to significant financial losses for farmers and can result in food shortages.

To tackle the above given issues, managed farmlands, through sustainable practices, are leading efforts to conserve water and combat drought issues effectively.

Conservation techniques adapted by managed farmlands to combat drought

Soil Health Management: Adopting efficient soil management techniques such as mulching, which involves covering the soil with organic materials like leaves, significantly reduces water evaporation and regulates soil temperature. Adding carbon-rich material like biochar, wood pieces and dry organic matter during planting builds the soil. The combination of decomposing mulch material and added dry matter provides an excellent environment for nutrient buildup by microorganisms, that are added periodically as bio-cultures. No-till farming preserves the soil structure, minimizing runoff and enhancing water absorption, thereby making more water available for plants. Furthermore, integrating agroforestry practices adds more trees that provide shade, lower soil temperature, and through their deep roots, bring up moisture from below the surface, enhancing water conservation.

Water conservation strategies

Managed farmlands are increasingly adopting advanced techniques to enhance water conservation and ensure sustainable agricultural practices. Rain is the perennial source of water and when it rains, we slow the water movement, we percolate the water into the ground and we collect excess water in ponds and underground natural reservoirs. Thoughtfully positioned swales, bunds and diversion trenches can prevent erosion and running off water from land. Pata bunding is important in minimizing runoff from zones, thereby maintaining soil moisture. Also, excess runoff water is directed to a unique Bunghroo system that is ingeniously designed to address both water logging and scarcity by filtering and storing the water, in underground Large dry zones which can be tapped when needed. Borewells provide a consistent water supply, crucial during periods of drought. Drip irrigation systems are utilized to maximize water use efficiency, delivering water directly to the roots of the plants, reducing waste. Lastly, trenches are effectively used to collect and channel water to targeted areas, ensuring that water is available where it is most needed. Together, these innovative practices empower managed farmlands to thrive even in challenging environmental conditions.

Drought resistant crops

Drought-resistant crops sich as ragi, jowar, bajra, green gram, sunflower, sesame, sugarcane, and maize are vital for water conservation, especially in Karnataka’s semi-arid and arid regions. These crops demand less water compared to traditional varieties, significantly aiding in maintaining soil health, improving soil structure, and reducing the need for frequent irrigation. By thriving in low-water conditions, they ensure sustained agricultural productivity even during prolonged drought periods, making them crucial for resilient farming practices.


In managed farmlands, the FASAL system plays a key role by continuously monitoring soil moisture to precisely meet the irrigation needs of crops based on their type, growth stage, and soil properties. The system also delivers farm-specific micro-climatic forecasts for the next 14 days (about 2 weeks), enabling proactive management against weather-related risks. Additionally, its prediction and assessment tools alert farmers and agricultural institutions about potential crop diseases and pest outbreaks, allowing for timely application of preventive treatments. Together, these capabilities enable precise predictions of weather and soil moisture conditions, facilitating effective water conservation strategies.

Managed farmlands offer a proactive and efficient approach to agricultural challenges, addressing potential issues before they escalate. These farms employ integrated soil and water management techniques designed to optimize resource use and ensure there is no wastage of water. By strategically managing these essential resources, managed farmlands not only prevent problems but also enhance the sustainability and productivity of agricultural practices.

(The author is Chairman & Co-founder, Hosachiguru.)