The IDC utilise a range of tools and technologies to scale agri-dryland solutions.

  Landscape resource conservation measures : The ICRISAT Development Center (IDC) possesses unique expertise in formulating landscape resource conservation measures through the application of the Land Resource Inventory (LRI) and hydrology approach. This methodology is employed to tackle issues related to land degradation and water scarcity within degraded landscapes. Across diverse ecologies in South Asia, we have established community-scale evidence, showcasing the successful integration of LRI and hydrology for resource quantification, demand assessment, and the development of a range of Natural Resource Management (NRM) interventions.

This approach is instrumental in addressing the demand-supply gap, allowing for the optimization of available resources by taking into account landscape topography and socio-economic factors. Our research has resulted in the validation of cost-effective engineering innovations suitable for low, medium, and high rainfall regions, considering different soil types and topographical conditions. These innovations are ready for scaling up, offering practical solutions for sustainable resource management.

  Water budget-based cropping system design: Designing crop systems based on water budgets means matching how much water crops need with the amount of moisture the landscape can provide to ensure sustainable food production. At the IDC, we are experts in figuring out these water balance details at different levels, like small plots or larger areas. We also use data from devices called lysimeters and measurements in the fields to understand how much water crops need at different stages. We have created computer models to calculate water needs and gaps across larger areas. This helps us identify where there might be too little or too much water for crops and find ways to manage natural resources better and plan the best crops for each area.

  Soil health assessment: Soil health assessment is the key to addressing land degradation, poor agricultural productivity, reducing the cost of cultivation, reduction of GHG emissions and enhancing resource use efficiency. We focus on assessing soil biophysical, nutrient and biological properties for designing various best management practices including fertilizer management, organic carbon amendments and tillage practices. The knowledge generated from this technology is disseminated to various stakeholders through different means such as soil health cards, training, research bulletins/articles.

  Quantification of ecosystem services: ICRISAT Development Center (IDC) has developed different methodologies for quantifying various ecosystem services generated through landscape resource conservation measures. Leading instrumentation for quantifying hydrology (storm flow, baseflow, groundwater and soil moisture dynamics), sediment and nutrient flow have been established at different scales across low, medium and high rainfall zones. The information along with remote sensing and modelling tools are being used to develop methods and protocols for quantifying various ecosystem services and their multi-dimensionality. The knowledge is helpful to a range of stakeholders including students, researchers, development agencies, and policymakers for better planning and making informed decisions.

  Turning waste into wealth: Soil organic carbon (SOC) plays a crucial role in soil health, influencing its physical, chemical, and biological properties. Inappropriate disposal and burning of organic farm waste lead to greenhouse gas emissions and the depletion of SOC. To address this, we have developed and tested organic soil amendments such as compost and biochar. These amendments not only enhance soil health but also create opportunities for rural self-employment.

The IDC has successfully implemented the aerobic composting method in various projects, including Bhoosamrudhi in Karnataka, Rythu Kosam in Andhra Pradesh, and Bhoochetana and the Odisha Livelihoods Mission (OLM) projects in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. Aerobic composting utilizes microorganisms to decompose organic matter, producing high-quality compost. This technology has been demonstrated and expanded to make a positive impact.

  Wastewater treatment and reuse: Improving water use efficiency is crucial for the resilience of small-scale farming families in resource-poor, semi-arid tropics facing climate challenges. Irrigation, a major human activity, has the largest water footprint globally. The increasing population and evolving food habits have strained existing freshwater sources for irrigation, prompting a heightened focus on achieving more crop yield per unit of water.

Water scarcity has driven scientific research into the safe reuse of wastewater for irrigation. Constructed wetlands, a wastewater treatment technology, guide wastewater flow through a gravel-sand bed with specific plants that aid in phytoremediation. This eco-friendly technology has been proven effective and well-documented for resource-poor communities by numerous researchers over the past decades.

Innovative use of solar energy in hybrid constructed wetlands can significantly reduce their environmental impact and improve effluent quality. Since the technology is not labor-intensive and does not require high-quality electricity or chemicals, it can be implemented widely across semi-arid tropics. Additionally, local stakeholders can be trained to manage these decentralized wastewater treatment units within their communities.

  Vegetable grafting and protected cultivation of high value crops: Grafting is a plant propagation method that involves joining two different plant parts so they can grow together as one plant. In vegetables, grafting helps tackle specific challenges, both from living organisms and environmental factors, that negatively impact quality and yields, leading to increased cultivation costs. Additionally, grafting significantly boosts yields in crops like tomatoes and cucumbers, ranging from 40% to 150%, especially under intensive management practices.

Protected cultivation involves growing crops in specialized structures where factors like temperature, humidity, and light are controlled based on the specific needs of the crops. High-value crops such as colored bell peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers can be a beneficial choice for farmers under protected cultivation. This method offers advantages like improved growth, higher yields, and effective pest and disease management. At ICRISAT, we have three different model protected structures: fan-and-pad greenhouse, naturally ventilated polyhouse, and shade net.

 Agri-allied-based interventions for the improvement of smallholder farmers’ livelihoods: At IDC, we recognize the significant impact the agri-allied sector can have in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We are actively involved in training rural unemployed youth and women's self-help groups in various skills, including mushroom cultivation, mushroom spawn production, apiculture (honey production), and solar drying of perishable products, along with marketing.

These interventions, implemented across various IDC projects, contribute to increasing income through the production of value-added products in rural areas. Ultimately, our aim is to uplift the income levels and improve the standard of living for rural communities.