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Open Well or Borewell : Right choice for Irrigation - Rayakottai, Tamilnadu



I recently purchased 5 acres of agricultural land at Rayakottai, TamilNadu with the main purpose of growing lot of native trees and attracting birds. I also want to promote sustainable eco-friendly methods whether in water usage or agricultural practices. I need to get a water source ready for tree planting. I plan to plant a mixture of native trees for timber, some fruit trees, some trees just for conservation,some for beauty etc. I plan to use almost 4 acres just for trees and less than 1/2 acre for vegetables. I want to keep water and electricty use to the minimum. Also want to go for least dependency on external labour. So maybe drip irrigation is the best option. From neighbours, I have heard that water is typically available at 300 feet and below in the case of borewells. 


Should I go for open traditional well or borewell? How can I keep it sustainable in order to prevent it drying up?







 Dear Asha,

 Your question about open well against borewell and how to keep it sustainable in order it from drying up.

Frankly speaking, there is nothing you can do to really prevent any well from drying up. You can only hope that whatever you do helps in creating a return flow back in to the well.

Whether a borewell or open dugwell, both are prone to the ill effects of over exploitation by the neighbouring farmers.

First about the question of open dugwell or borewell- well pure economics would suggest that you opt for a borewell, as it costs less, occupies less space, gets done fast- only problem is whether you can get enough water for meeting your requirements.  For this if you are lucky and find a good consultant who manages to give you good advice you could get the quantity of water you require.

As regards the sustainability- well as far as usage is concerned you have planed to use bare minimum, but what you could do is to create a farm pond near the well and grade the land in such a way that the land slopes towards the well ( provided the best location for the well is in the lowest portion of the property)  hence all the water falling during the rain gets diverted to this farm pond and recharges the aquifer indirectly.

If possible arrange to have as many small collection ponds within the property so that it facilitates infiltration at various parts within the property whenever it rains.

And after this all you can do it pray to the rain gods that they dont forget you in the near future, and hope that none of your neighbours decides to drill deeper and pump out water indiscriminately.

All the best

Anil Lalwani



2. Dear Asha, It is good to

Dear Asha,

It is good to learn that some are there to safeguard the environment.

Regarding borewell or open well it is essential to know the local hydrogeological details supported by resistivity survey.Since neighbours are telling water is available below 300 ft it may not be advisable to go for dugwell/openwell.Let him meet the local state ground water dept people to know more specifics.

All the best.


Dr. P Ramachandra Reddy
Scientist G (Retd)
National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI)

3. Dear Asha, It would be

Dear Asha,

It would be preferred to construct a borewell and use drip/sprinkler irrigation. Also it is imperative to go for rain water harvesting, this would be long term sustainable.
D. Chakraborty
Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA)


4. Dear Asha, The information

Dear Asha,

The information provided by you is rather generalized, for advising you on choosing between a bore well and a traditional open or dug well.

On checking the geographical and geological maps of Tamilnadu on the net, I infer that the local rock in her farm is Granitic. In case the weathered and jointed zone of this rock on her farm is about 10 meters, then you may want to prefer the construction of a large (5 M) diameter open well, instead of a bore well. This alone won't suffice. You will have to harvest the surface run off in her farm and divert it to a storage pit or pond near the well. This would make the supply from the well sustainable.

With best regards,

R.N. Athavale.
Formerly Director Grade Scientist
National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad & Emeritus Scientist
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research

5. Dear Asha,    As some of the

Dear Asha,

   As some of the other respondents have indicated, watershed development is one approach you should take. The idea would be to understand the topography of the land and make some interventions like bunds, farm ponds etc. in order to retain as much water as possible on the surface of the land and to recharge the ground water too. You may have to take the help of some local NGO in doing this work. 

   In the long term it may be needed to put in both an open well and a tube well. The open well would give you access to what is called the 'shallow aquifer' and would contain water in the rainy season. Especially if the watershed development work mentioned previously is successful, you should be able to get some amount of water from the open well. The tube well will give you access to deeper water. 

     Since you are planning to do a lot of tree plantation and relatively less agriculture, your water requirement hopefully will not be too much. However the availability of water also depends on other farmers and their utilization of the groundwater. In many areas of South India, the water table has been falling very rapidly and causing enormous difficulties for agriculture. You should inquire around in the area you are in, to find out the local situation.


Vijay Krishna


6. Dear Asha, Keeping in view

Dear Asha,
Keeping in view the interest and business model of the farmer and the location in Tamil Nadu, the following is suggested:
1. As you want to keep the use of electricity to the minimum, the first option is to go for a rainwater harvesting pond(s) at the suitable locations in the farm. These can be surface storage or with the covered surface to reduce evaporation. Water from these sources may be used through electric/ solar powered pumps to the nearby locations. This will improve the aesthetic value of the plantations and help in improving the bio-diversity.
2. In case this water is inadequate, a bore-cum-dug well may be constructed with dug well of a reasonable depth, followed by bore well to the water bearing aquifer. The dug well also helps in capturing additional recharge to the location. You can also direct runoff from the surrounding area through suitable outlet finally passing through a filtration-cum-recharge structure.
Additional technical help may be obtained from WTC of TNAU, Coimbatore.
Hope this is helpful.
Best regards.

Bharat R Sharma
Senior Researcher-I & Head
International Water Management Institute
New Delhi-110012

7. Dear Asha, You can go for

Dear Asha,

You can go in for borewell with recharging option. There are a number of methods to recharge a bore well and these techniqies can be learnt from the local department of goundwater, universities and NGOs in the area.


Second, you can do crop planning according to the available water.



Manoj Agarwal

8. Dear Asha: You have 5 acres,

Dear Asha:

You have 5 acres, why not dig a water harvesting tank of say one acre. You can grow trees on the bunds and creeper crops of vegetable and fruits. The investment on the tank may be less than drilling bore-well and the submersible pup-set you will need.

Your plans suggest you want to follow conservation and eco oriented farming. It is important you have live-stock base of dairy or drought animals and small poultry unit. If you go for the tank you can have fish as well.

Will be happy to be in continued contact and share ongoing experiences.

Best wishes


Director ARTIC, Kotturu-532 455, Srikakulam district,Andhra Pradesh, India.

Mobile 09440343821


9. Dear Asha, I am happy to see

Dear Asha,
I am happy to see your mail and that you are planning to promote local varieties and not depend on outside labour.

In your area, water is available at 300 feet and below. I suggest that you go for borewell and install motor and drip irrigation. Alternatively you can promote and introduce solar energy and biogas.

I also have 10 acres of land. Recently I installed borewell and am planning to promote traditional and natural varieties of crops through organic farming and SRI paddy etc.

Kindly keep in touch and share new ideas. You can plan exposure visits to similar areas to get more information.


V. Gangireddy

Project Director
Rural Reconstruction & Development Society
Nellaturu (V) & (P),
Gudur Mandal - 524 103
S.P.S.R. Nellore District
Andhra Pradesh
South India

Ph: +91-8624-222589, Fax: +91-8624-253133
Mobile: +91-94402 73310

10. Dear Asha, is there no canal

Dear Asha
is there no canal water at all in that area? What about rain water harvesting structures also like farm ponds in Gujarat?

Dr. Sukhpal Singh

Centre for Management in Agriculture (CMA)
Indian Institute of Management (IIM)
Gujarat, INDIA

Phone: 079-66324957 (O), 079-66325405 (R)
Fax: 079-66325405/66326896

11. Dear Asha, I read your mail

Dear Asha,
I read your mail regarding the water source for the plants that you want to grow  and conserve.

Now a days its difficult to source the capillary water from open wells. Open wells are living only in few parts of India. Above 300 feet depth water availability is ground water aquifers or fossil waters. Its inevitable to go for a bore well. But its better you check this with the geologist and consider the geomorphology before digging the bore well.

I will also check this with the central ground water board data and let you know. I congratulate for your judicious approach to water and biodiversity conservation. I too have a farm near Bangalore and am taking up similar efforts with biodiversity conservation.

Please be in touch if you need my assistance

Phone: +919880116198

12. Dear Asha, If your water level

Dear Asha

If your water level is too deep then you may not able to dig an open well, as it is very costly. Hence you may go in for bore well.

However you should adopt rainwater conservation and control the evaporation losses by using mulching. I hope you will be concerned and watchful about the volume of groundwater you are extracting.

With regards

Senior Program officer

Phone: +91 9440621862

13. Dear Asha, water is important

Dear Asha
water is important for your farm. You must install water harvesting systems with water piping in the farm. Water runoff should be collected, and rainwater harvesting structure located accordingly.

Also can learn from water harvesting systems in Gujarat / Rajasthan which are major dryland regions.

With warm regards,

Chandrasekhar, Nemani

Program Officer (Information)
Watershed Support Services and Activities Network (WASSAN)
H.No. 12-13-452, Street No.1, Tarnaka
Secunderabad - 500 017, Andhra Pradesh, India

14. Dear friends, If Rayakottai,

Dear friends,
If Rayakottai, vide the subject of this post, falls in Dharmapuri District of Tamil Nadu, it is difficult to get permission for drilling a new bore well for agricultural purpose, as all the blocks in Dharmapuri District are declared overexploited. Even if one drills wells in violation of the existing Act / regulations, TNEB will not give electricity connection.

Sharing water from the nearby well owners and in situ rain water/moisture harvesting/conservation becomes necessary, even if Government gives permission to drill a well.

Hydrogeologically looking at the problem, one can explore for well location, if the lands comprise granites / pegmatites / quartz veins but not other rocks (hornblende gneiss / charnockite) known to occur in the subject region.
Structural aspects such as shears, igneous intrusions, contact zones need to be studied for locating probable well sites before conducting geophysical investigations.

Ashaji may kindly approach the District Groundwater Department for proper guidance as per the prevailing groundwater laws / regulations.

Rain-fed horticulture/ Ragi / Jowar (Cholam) with life saving irrigation can be grown.
How far are the lands from the four-lane high way and Rayakottai town? If the lands are close by, it will invite the problems of agriculture in urban / peri-urban areas - a specialised subject.

C Udaya Shankar

15. Perhaps an option would be to

Perhaps an option would be to start with a bore well - for the immediate purpose of establishing trees. But that again depends on groundwater recharge rates and transmission capacities (this area is near Krishnagiri dam - perhaps the sub-srface drainage is 'away from' and not 'towards' this area where you have bought land).

If three open wells (even with a minimal recharge say 15-30 inches in 3-4 days) can provide enough water for the trees (not all the trees you plan will need daily watering- some can stay put for a week or 10 days even when they are saplings), then with enough mulching, rainwater harvesting, and other moisture management practices (you may have to check what other farmers there do for moisture management)  you may not need a bore well at all.

Certainly this question cannot be answered without adequate knowledge of several features of the land, rainfall, sub-surface drainage, etc. - all highly location specific. Is the land sloping? Say, a hill-side? or a flat layout? If it is the former, then moisture retaining terraces will be necessary.

Dr. Rajeswari Sarala Raina
National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies
Dr. K. S. Krishnan Marg
Pusa, New Delhi 110012
Ph: 011- 25843380

16. Just a quick response to this

Just a quick response to the exchange on this query.

Whether it is 5 acres or 500, I wouldn't even want to hazard a guess on what should be done. It is just not right, especially when one is looking at harnessing as enigmatic a resource as groundwater. The best solution would be to take a hydrogeologist's help; he or she needs to visit the site and take a look.


Dr. Himanshu Kulkarni
Executive Director
Advanced Center for Water Resources Development and Management (ACWADAM)
Plot 4 Lenyadri society, Sus road
Pashan, Pune-411021.
Ph: +91-20-25871539

17. Dear all, As Dr. Himanshu,

Dear all, 

As Dr. Himanshu, has pointed out, hydrogeologists are the best people to decide whether to have open / bore well. Regarding preventing the wells from drying, no way but to have proper water harvesting structures of which farm ponds are most popular.

Also kindly plant tree species which are quite hardy, with ability withstand mositure stress. In that case even if they are taken care off for just one or max two seasons , they survive and grow better once the root systems get well established and grow deep.

Any way for assured water supply, it is always better to have borewell, if that land is suitable for drilling a borwell.


Chetna Organic Farmers Association – FFID (COFA)

Tel. No. (040) 27009944, 27563363, 27566958

Mobile: +91-9845086842



18. Farm ponds / water harvesting

Farm ponds / water harvesting structures are constructed to store the run off in the monsoon season.

I am forwarding a link to a short case study: "Water harvesting for agriculture" by Shree Padre (The famous water journalist):, for more information.

With warm regards

Chandrasekhar, Nemani
Program Officer (Information)
Watershed Support Services and Activities Network (WASSAN)
H.No. 12-13-452, Street No.1, Tarnaka
Secunderabad - 500 017, Andhra Pradesh, India

19. I have 2 percolation tanks of

I have 2 percolation tanks of about 1 acre totally. I have 3 borewells. My area is in a dry / arid region. My rainwater harvesting tanks keeps me safe for eleven months. 3 bore wells, submersible pump drip covers about 60 acres of orchard.


Subramanian Sekhar
Practising organic farmer

Organisation: Viseshorgchards
No. 10, 7th Cross Street, Lake Area, Nungambakkam,
Chennai – 600 034
Tamil Nadu, India

Tel. No. (044) 28175421
Mobile: +91-9444008421

20. Need information in solar water pump & subsidy in Tamilnadu

I plan to implement solar water pumping system in my 10 acres of land. What will be the cost? How much subsidy will be given by the govt? Is solar pump suitable for well with a depth of 60 feet?

21. Pump will cost 1.25 lakhs per hp - You can also use solar pumps

Dr Mr Arun,

The cost of the pump will be 1.25 lakhs per HP, you can get 30% subsidy. You can use solar powered open well submersible pump for your 60 feet well.

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