COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State University is joining three other U.S. academic institutions in efforts to boost crop production in India by improving existing water resources.



Rattan Lal, an Ohio State University soil scientist with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, is the recipient of a two-year $60,000 U.S.-India Agricultural Knowledge Initiative (AKI) grant focusing on "On-Farm Water Management for Rain-Fed Agriculture on Benchmark Watersheds in Five Diverse Eco-Regions of India."



University of Iowa, University of Illinois and University of Florida are also part of the efforts in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and the Indian Consul of Agriculture Research (ICAR). ICAR matched the awarded funds to provide support to the Indian collaborative institutions.



Lal said the AKI grant continues the relationship Ohio State University has shared with India's Punjab Agricultural University for over 50 years.



"AKI provides us new opportunities to build upon our continued collaboration with India," said Lal, a professor with the School of Environment and Natural Resources.



AKI is a public-private partnership program to facilitate technology transfer; bolster agricultural research, education and Extension; and strengthen trade and regulatory capacity building. To lead AKI efforts, the United States and India created a board comprised of academia, government and private sector representatives. Bobby Moser, dean of Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, is a member of the board.



The grant will fund water management research at two Indian agricultural universities: Punjab Agricultural University and Jawahar Lal Nehru Krishi Vishva Vidyalaya (JNKVV) in Jabalpur, India, and will focus on aspects of conserving and recycling rainwater, reducing run-off pollution, treating urban waste water for irrigation purposes, reducing evaporation losses, and developing drought avoidance techniques.



"The issue is that 65 percent of the land area in India is rain-fed and produces only one ton per hectare of food per year. While the other 35 percent is irrigated land, producing five tons per hectare of food per year, there is not enough water to put more land in an irrigated system, so crop production has to happen under rain-fed conditions," said Lal. "Our challenge is to improve practices of soil water management, identify watersheds and monitor run-off pollution in those stressed rain-fed areas."



A program-planning workshop was recently held in New Delhi, India, to address those issues.



In addition to water management in rain-fed areas, Ohio State is also a part of AKI-funded research on the following projects: "U.S. India Consortium on International Water Management," and "Academy for Teaching and Learning Excellence: A Capacity Building Model."



More information on AKI is available online.



SOURCE: Ohio State University news release.