Unprecedented monsoon rainfall a plus for livestock farmers in Sirkazhi

January 17, 2023 09:15 am | Updated 09:15 am IST

Farmers in  Sirkazhi-Kollidam blocks are confident that the eventuality of resorting to distress sale of cattle due to shortage of drinking water for the animals will not arise during the ensuing summer months. File photo

Farmers in Sirkazhi-Kollidam blocks are confident that the eventuality of resorting to distress sale of cattle due to shortage of drinking water for the animals will not arise during the ensuing summer months. File photo | Photo Credit: M. Srinath

The unprecedented rainfall in Sirkazhi-Kollidam blocks last November that had severely damaged crops is expected to bring in long-term relief to the farming community as the rearing of cattle and livestock could be sustained in the coastal belt during the summer months ahead.

Farmers in the belt are confident that the eventuality of resorting to distress sale of cattle due to shortage of drinking water for the animals will not arise during the ensuing summer months, with the hope that the aquifer-recharge will ensure easy availability of potable ground water in adequate quantities.

According to officials, Water quality index (WQI) value of groundwater in terms of pH, Total Dissolved Solids, Total Hardness, Calcium, Chloride, Magnesium and Electrical conductivity was at worrisome levels in scientific studies undertaken in recent years. Samples of groundwater taken for testing were considered unfit for drinking purposes, and required treatment.

Sirkazhi town receives an average yearly rainfall of 1,250 mm mainly from the north-east monsoon between October and December. However, during the first fortnight of last November, the town was battered by 44 cm rain on a single day.

Sirkazhi has always been receiving more rainfall during the monsoon months, and the presence of a number of irrigation channels that carry water from the rivers provides a rich deposit of fertile silt before reaching the sea.

Though the main crop is rice, other crops including coconut, tamarind and neem are also raised on vast swathes of land.

The salinity caused by water ingress from sea begain at the time of 2004 tsunami. Sirkazhi town was unaffected by the natural calamity, but the groundwater quality deteriorated where aquifers were close to the water bodies.

Post-tsunami, experts have been emphasising on construction of artificial recharge structures, and establishment of treatment units for reverse osmosis, desalination, and ion-exchange process.

A field work carried out by the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation to assess sustainability of agricultural activities in Sirkazhi-Kollidam belt, conversion of agricultural land for aquaculture activity is one among the main reasons for deterioration of ground water quality.

On its part, the Agriculture Department has been advising farmers to adopt a twin-pronged approach of raising green manure crop to restore fertility of the soil, and to switch over to CSR 36 and CSR 46 varieties of sodicity-tolerant paddy crop.

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