Climate information for rural watershed management through agroforestry and urban rainwater harvesting

Raghu Murtugudde

University of Maryland

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All India Monsoon Rainfall (AIMR) has been studied for over a century since Walker's time and before. It is often claimed that AIMR is a very stable system with less than 10% variance. However regional and local variabilities tell a different story. An NGO called BAIF (Bharathiya Agro Industries Foundation) has been implementing agroforestry techniques for rural watershed management which have yielded impressive success stories. The details of its implementation in the southwest region is discussed in the context of the urban region and the peri-urban interface with which the rural area shares water resources. The rainfall variability in the region is in the range of ~400-900 mm/yr with variance of over 30% around the mean and secular trends of a few years to a decade. The farmponds, which are fundamental for agroforestry, are empirically set to 30'x30'x10' and water management is based on historical weather data. Is it possible to build a weather network and soil moisture measurement network which can be used to better manage the farmponds, checkdams, and village ponds? Anecdotal evidence clearly indicates that the impact of agroforestry extends the greenery after the rainy season much longer than without agroforestry. Initial efforts are underway to quantify the impact of agroforestry on soil moisture and the microclimate by developing indigenous weather stations and soil moisture profilers. These also serve as the basis for education on water harvesting and weather and climate. The holistic approach and the impacts are presented with some discussion on the efforts and future plans to gather research quality data on the impacts of agroforestry on water resources and local climate.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006
2:00 PM (Refreshments at 1:50 pm)
PSL-South Conference Room (1D403)

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