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Salient research achievements

Resource inventory

Integrated watershed management

Conservation Measures

Environment improvement

Socio - economic issues



With the establishment of eight regional stations, research on rainfed biomass productivity and resource conservation strategies was initiated since 1954 onward. Data was generated on soil loss, runoff, peak discharge, specification of bunding, terracing, leveling and biomass production through improved agronomic practices to meet the then requirement of the states. Pioneering research on watershed hydrology with excellent gauging devices in 42 small watersheds was initiated at eight centres in 1956. Special emphasis was given to train executives and assistants to main Soil and Water Conservation Programmes in the Centre, State, Union Territories and neighbouring countries.   A brief summary of the accomplishment is given in the following broad groups.


  Resource  Inventory

             For proper soil conservation  and planning a map of  Land Resource Regions and sub-regions of  India was developed in 1970. Recently soil erosion map of India (1:700,000) and of West Bengal, Rajsthan, Gujarat , Tamilnadu (1:250,000) ,were prepared.

             Rainfall intensity duration and return period equations and nomographs for 42 stations  in different rainfall zones of  India were developed. Nomographs  for estimation of peak discharge by various method  have been evolved for field workers. The annual and seasonal erosivity index EI30 and EI1440 maps were prepared using 50 recording rain gauge stations and 400 rainfall stations, respectively.

             Land capability parameters for bouldery land and gully classification for ravine land was developed for their proper management.

             Ecological  successional   studies in the protected  ravines of  Yamuna , Chambal and Mahi river systems has been in progress 1954-55. Bio-diversity has shifted in favour of better quality perennial  grasses and  multipurpose tree due to protection against biotic interference.


Integrated Watershed Management

               After having gained experience from 42 experimental small watersheds during 1960s the gigantic problem of sedimentation in Sukhha lake (Chandigarh) with a catchment of 42 km2 was taken up in 1974.  Ford Foundation provided financial assistance for arresting sedimentation through watershed management strategies of the famous Sukhomajri village of Haryana. Many other issues of resource conservation were also resolved in other watersheds.

             Detailed survey of basic resource namely soil, water, plant, human beings, animals and land  use were conducted for 20 watershed and master plans prepared in different agro-ecological regions in association with farmers, state line departments and local agricultural universities.

             The success stories of integrated watershed management programme at Sukhomajri , Nada, Fakot, GR Halli, Chinnatekur and Bajar Ganiyar paved the way for launching massive watersheds development projects in several parts of the country by many developmental agencies.

           Recharging of aquifers through  integrated watershed management was demonstrated successfully  in Aravali foot hills of Haryana and Kurnool dist. Of  Andhra Pradesh.

           Pilot ORPs such as Sukohmajri, Nanda, G.R. Halli, Fakot , 47 model watersheds and other integrated watershed programmes for the simultaneous management of land, vegetation  rain water horticulture, livestock and  human resources reshaped national policies.

           The watershed management clearly demonstrated the resilience in crops against drought in the rainfall deficit year, 1987.


Conservation Measures

  Arable land

             Land shaping/ levelling , contour/graded bunds, diversion channels and other package of practices have been  developed for sustainable crop production on sloping and ravine lands.

           Non-monetary inputs like contour cultivation, early sowing cover management of row crops through  legume intercropping and narrow spacing (90 x 20  in maize) for reducing runoff and soil loss and increasing production on moderately sloping lands were devised.

           Organic mulching @ 4 t/ha effectively erosion losses from 37 to 6 t/ha on 8% slope having silty loam soils in alfisols of the Doon Valley and also increases yield of the subsequent crop from 1.9 to 2.4 t/ha . Normal tillage with live mulching (green manure grown in between maize rows) reduced runoff by 55% and soil loss by 60% at 4% slope. In vertisols, vertical mulching with similar amount showed beneficial effects on crop yield and reduced runoff and soil loss to a permissible limit.

           Variably  graded bund for annual rainfall greater than 600 mm in permeable soils and less than 600 mm in impermeable soils disposed excess water safely. In red and lateritic soils, the practices of graded bunding reduced runoff from 20 to 13% and soil from  4 to 01. t/ha. Conservation ditching was also suitable in poorly drained   vertisols.

           Graded trenches for 10-15% slopping areas in  high rainfall regions reduced runoff from 28 to 26% and  soil loss from 4 t/ha to negligible in red lateritic soils.


             Bench terracing in 16 to 35% slopes of red and lateritic soils reduced runoff from 15 to  3% and soil loss from 45 to 0.5 t/ha.

           Runoff farming with water harvesting, storage,  recycling, tapping of perennial flows and augmentation of well   water for supplemental irrigation through conservation practices has been very well  received by farmers. Lining with LDPE sheets reduced seepage but needed periodic maintenance . In red and lateritic soils, farm ponds with 2.5 ha-cm capacity of each hectare of catchment are recommended.

Non-arable land

           Utilization of grasses and bushes in the vegetatively restored ravine land of Chambal, Yamuna and Mahi were investigated. Grazing of 4-6 goats/ha had  no adverse effect on vegetation, soil characterization and hydrological behaviour of the restored watershed.

           Agroforestry systems for different agro-ecological regions were evolved. In high rainfall  foot  hills of the Western Himalaya, intercropping of peach with cowpea and turmetic from the second year onward is quite remunerative. Practices of raising   horticulture in gravelly river beds were evolved. Reshaping of surface configurtion for runoff horticulture was standardized. Lands with 33  to 50% slopes are suitable for horticultural plantations.

           Restoration of denuded area by revegetation, staggered contour trenching, mulching and social fencing for sustainable soil and  water conservation are recommended in theShiwaliks.

           Deep gullies (greater than 9 m) were stabilized by constructing gully plugs,  small earthen   check dams, live hedges, staggered contour trenches, plantation of  Dendrocalamus strictus and other indigenous tree species.


Environmental improvement

             Conversion of the Shola forest to an eucalyptus plantation in the Nilgiri hills reduced runoff by 16  and 28% respectively during the first and second rotations.

           Bioengineering measures applied to 4204 ha of the Sukhana lake catchment of the Shiwalik hills reduced runoff from 23 to 11% and soil loss from 150 to 15  t/ha over a period of 16 years..

           Landslide in the outer Himalaya (Mussoorie hills) were controlled with the help of bioengineering measures,  which reduced fom 53 to 38 mm sediment flow from 320 to 5.5 t/ha has increased dry weather flow from 100 to 250 days. Similar results were observed in the Nilgiri hills.

           Technology involving bioengineering measures was developed for mine spoils stabilization in the Himalayan foothills and the Deccan plateau. In limestone minespoils watershed of 54 ha about 17,000 tonnes of debris was stablised  resulting in perennial flow of quality water  fit for consumption . The peak rate of runoff was moderated drastically from 9.5 to 1.6 mm/hs.

Technology was also developed for the restoration of iron ore mine spoils in the lateritic region around  Bellary (Karnataka)

Socio-economic and Policy Issues

             Socio-economic analysis of managed watershed revealed a significant positive relationship of  irrigated area, number of milch animals and the amount spent on fertilizer, with annual family income. The benefit cost ratio ranged from 1.40 to 2.25 proving the viability of the programme.Employment/income was generated and poverty alleviated by different soil conservation activities.

           The watershed management  programme made a significant impact on women. This programme increased their total working hours, decreased the drudgery of collecting fuelwood and fetching water and helped the women to devote more time  in better quality activities like making dairy products and on children education.

           A comparative study of traditional skills and knowledge with respect of watershed management revealed more than 90% variability in the income of farmers between the adopted and  control watersheds and generated 58% extra income.




Institute has the excellent field and lab facilities for soil erosion research

Run off plots

Hydraulic flume for model studies

Field research

Integrated watershed management

Horti-pastoral system in shiwalik foothills

Extension and demonstration

Improved varietal evaluation under IVLP

Peach based agro-horti system



Conservation measures

Bench terracing

Live mulching

Farm pond for  rain water harvesting

Conservation Bench










Sub-surface water harvesting



Peach based system


Restoration of vegetation