A windpump arrives at pointReturn

One of my pet peeves about the emerging fancy for organic farming is that it seldom considers water accounting. They may use free power and endless water but are styled ‘organic’ as long as they don’t use chemicals. All together, there is profligacy in water use.

A windmill is a good starting point to start thinking of frugality, sustainability, responsibility and sanity and go on to build water security on a holding. Combined with rain water harvesting and run off management one can be water secure if not water affluent. That would enable one’s water capital to influence crop selection. And that would in turn, almost certainly lead to crop rotation and diversity.

During my travels for GoodNewsIndia I had been struck by BAIF’s successes with farm water ponds. Once, reluctant farmers were persuaded to reserve 10% of their land for storing rain water everything changed quite rapidly. Profits flowed in, the food basket got heavier and varied, men migrating to towns seeking work ended, education of children and adults received emphasis and why, even big business found markets for their goods. I wrote about farm ponds and changing social dynamics and wondered why the practice was not more widespread.

Maybe writing and lecturing about them won’t do- maybe showing it working in a farming neighbourhood will. pointReturn will attempt that. In addition to the windmill there will eventually be a 1.5 acre excavated pond to hold rain water. Hopefully, there will be water availability for longer periods in a year and also increased recharge of ground water.

I picked a windmill made by Aureka in Auroville. There are not very many makers of small scale mills suitable for farms, which is a great pity. The models from Aureka have a good track record in over 100 locations. They claim their windpumps can be left unattended round the clock through fair weather and foul. This is an important factor to consider when you decide on a windmill. While it will probably trouble you a lot less than electric motors, [-often browned out by low voltage] you won’t find too many people around who can jump in quickly and repair a windmill. Aureka being just 60km away is a comfort. Even as they assure they will repair them at any location, the claim is their mills will give little trouble. There is also a two year warranty during which they promise routine maintenance as well.

After a 3 month long wait, the windpump arrived on May 21. Here you must pause to visualise the pointReturn site. There are about three dwarf trees scattered in the 15 acres of fenced in area. There is no shade whatever, let alone near where the mill is to be erected. No water either, to drink or clean up. And we were right in the middle of Agni Nakshatra of our summers scoring 43degC regularly. You can justifiably translate that as the season of the Fire Star. Work would begin at 6.30am but stop at 10.30am when it got impossibly hot. Then starting at 4pm we would work till after 7pm. There was a small plastic sheet stretched over a few poles that cast about 80 sft of shifting shade and we were 6 men at work.

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