Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Farming with treated wastewater in Bengaluru

 Mr Arun’s two-and-a-half acre farm lies in the middle of what has grown to be a bustling part of the IT corridor of the city of Bengaluru. Located on Halanayakanahalli lake road, off Sarjapur road, and only about 500 meters from the Halanayakanahalli lake, Arun tries his best to maintain an organic farm in the midst of high-rise buildings, pollution and water scarcity. Though there is a lake close by, many apartments still face water scarcity issues in this area, especially during the dry season.

Halanayakanahalli road on the map

Multiple native fruit trees are grown on one acre and a whole acre is dedicated to growing fodder for the 2 cows and 2 calves that live on the farm. Multiple millets and vegetables used to be grown here a few years back but grazing lands have disappeared from the area in only a few years to make way for high-rise buildings. Due to this Arun is now growing fodder to sustain his cows in his farm itself.

There is a 460 feet deep borewell on the farm. Water from this borewell is used to sustain the caretaker’s family as well as multiple farm animals.

Arun runs a small-scale building firm. He aspires to work on ecologically sustainable buildings. While researching water management for his company’s first project (Vizipa Optima - an apartment complex), he learnt about various issues with water management throughout the city. He also developed a keen interest in wastewater treatment during this time and saw a great opportunity in using treated wastewater on his farm.

He has now arranged with various treated wastewater tankers to supply water for his trees and crops. Around 2 to 3 loads of tankers in bought every day to water parts of the farm. Watering the whole farm in summer would require more than 10 loads per day. Currently, there is no cost to the treated wastewater with the engaged tanker contractors and water is ordered on a need basis. There is no drip irrigation system on the farm. The field is irrigated through furrow irrigation.

Arun’s farm is a great example of how treated wastewater can be put to good use, thus reducing demand pressure on freshwater sources. Since treated wastewater is also relatively rich in nutrients, this also reduces the need for fertilizer on the farm reducing the overall environmental footprint.

The farm

-Neelima Ramesh

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