A landscape photo shows the fields of the farm with lots of green trees.
7 min read

A tropical paradise – made possible by KSB pumps


Antje Bauer and Johannes Michael Nether have made their dream come true of a sustainable farm in the tropics in India. KSB pumps are playing a key role in making this possible. As the beating heart of an highly efficient irrigation system, they ensure that the plants are supplied with water all year round – and grow at record speed.

With a variety of tropical trees stretching up to eight metres into the sky, weaver birds building elaborate nests in the crowns and the air filled with the sound of buzzing insects, when you see Antje Ute Bauer’s and Johannes Michael Nether’s farm for the first time, you would think that there has always been a jungle growing here. There is nothing to indicate that the land 50 kilometres from the city of Pune in western India was nothing but dry soil only a few years ago. “When we arrived in 2019, there was nothing here at all. Just an empty field in the arid landscape,” recalls Antje Bauer. In just a few years, the German couple have created a tropical paradise here – and KSB pumps have played a crucial role.

Clever plant combinations to avoid pesticides and artificial fertilisers

Antje Ute Bauer and Johannes Michael Nether have made their dream come true: an ecological farm in the tropics. Over 350 different species of plants grow here, including 90 varieties of fruit and vegetables such as bananas, papayas, passion fruit, mangoes, pomegranates and avocados. They want to avoid pesticides and artificial fertilisers through agroforestry – a form of agriculture that combines trees, shrubs and annual plants to provide shade, shelter and nutrients, improve the soil and provide food for animals. A sophisticated system of pipelines and pumps ensures that the plants are supplied with water all year round and can grow at record speed.

The couple’s love of India began in 2013. At the time, Antje Bauer had been seconded to Pune for four years as a manager of a Swiss agricultural group. Her husband accompanied her. “We both fell completely in love with this country,” she says today. One word sums up what it is about India that she loves so much: “It’s the intensity of the country that I find so fascinating. Everything here is just hotter, louder, more densely populated, more colourful, sharper, more chaotic.” And that’s not all: India also offered them a unique opportunity, as trees grow much faster in the tropical climate than in Germany. “We are now in our fifth year and we already have a jungle around us that is six to eight metres high on average,” says Antje Bauer. And it is not only the trees that grow faster in India, but also the economy. In 2019, the couple decided to move to India and buy a piece of land.

Drip irrigation saves precious water

But to achieve their dream of running their own ecological farm, they need water. The farm is located in an area with a semi-arid monsoon climate. During the rainy season from July to September there is an abundance of water – the rest of the year they have to contend with drought conditions. In order to have enough water available during dry periods, they had a reservoir blasted into the slopes of the farm and created an earth dam to increase its capacity to four and a half million litres. Three KSB well pumps supply the farm with water from surrounding wells and reservoirs via pipelines up to two and a half kilometres long, providing them with water all year round: “We generally manage to fully maintain our reservoir level from the end of the rainy season in October until the end of March,” explains Johannes Michael Nether. 

An efficient water management system is the key, with drip irrigation enabling them to save water. The couple does not spray the plants, as a great deal of water would otherwise be lost through evaporation. Instead, after sunset, water continuously drips directly onto the roots of the plants through thin and flexible pipes. Approximately 14 kilometres of these driplines have been laid around the farm. “Driplines are the cheapest method of supplying water to large areas of land,” says Johannes Michael Nether. 

The water management system also minimises losses due to seepage from the water reservoir and wells. As the farm is located on a slope, water-bearing layers mean that the water seeps down into the valley. The resulting seepage water collects in several wells before being pumped back up to reservoirs and wells located on higher land. “We keep pumping it back up so the water stays on our land,” explains Johannes Michael Nether. The farm gets the electricity it needs for the pumps from solar panels.

KSB pumps are the beating heart of the water management system

When choosing pumps, Johannes Michael Nether immediately opted for KSB products. Twelve different submersible motor pumps from KSB form the beating heart of the water management system. He uses KSB products because he is familiar with their high quality from his previous profession as a plant engineering consultant. “We have nothing but KSB pumps here because I have happily used KSB products my whole life.” 

Today, three families live on the farm, which employs almost 30 people. Over the years, the couple and their helpers have planted 40,000 trees and shrub species. Not all of them are still growing there, as some are used as nitrogen binders to improve the soil. “We now have four years behind us and the first phase of restructuring the soil is slowly coming to an end,” explains Johannes Michael Nether. “The soil quality is improving. We are now cutting clearings out of the jungle in order to plant future crops.”

But they are already seeing the first successes of their sustainable agriculture. They have planted 170 avocado trees so far, which have borne fruit after just four years. “That’s extraordinary because they usually take eight years,” says a delighted Johannes Michael Nether.

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