The ICAR-Indian Institute of Soil and Water Conservation (ICAR-IISWC), (Formerly CSWCRTI) was established on 1st April,1974 with Headquarters at Dehradun by combining Soil and Water Conservation Research, Demonstration and Training Centres which were established in 1950’s at Dehradun, Kota, Bellary, Udhagamandalam, Vasad, Agra and Chandigarh. These centres were initially established by the Govt. of India and transferred to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) on 1st October, 1967. Subsequently two new Research Centres were added to the CSWCRTI, one at Datia in M.P. (18th September, 1986) to tackle soil and water conservation problems of Bundelkhand region and another at Koraput in Orissa (31st January, 1992) to address the problems of shifting cultivation areas. The Institute and Research Centres have focused on evolving strategies for controlling land degradation following watershed approach, tackling special problems such as ravines, landslides, mine spoils and torrents, demonstration of technologies for popularization and imparting training besides developing technologies for water harvesting and recycling. In 1956, experimental watersheds were set up for generating watershed-based protection and production technologies. From 1974 onward, the Institute pioneered in operationalizing the watershed concept through four Operational Research Projects at Sukhomajri (Haryana), Nada (Chandigarh), Fakot (Tehri-Garhwal in Uttarakhand), and G.R. Halli (Chitradurga, Karnataka). After realizing tremendous tangible and intangible benefits from these watersheds, the ICAR developed 47 model watersheds in sixteen states in collaboration with State Agricultural Universities and State Departments. Encouraged with the success of the model watersheds, the Ministry of Agriculture conceived of a massive National Watershed Development Programme for Rainfed Areas (NWDPRA) for conservation and sustainable development in 29 states during 1991. Subsequently, the focus of watershed development programmes shifted towards community participation besides biophysical aspects to achieve sustainability in production systems. Success of the watershed management programmes also attracted many international agencies like World Bank, ICIMOD, EEC, DANIDA, KfW Germany, SIDA and Swiss Development Corporation for collaboration and funding support. The research and training experience of the Institutes and its Research Centres is being utilized by the Ministries of Agriculture, Rural Development, Environment & Forests, and various Central and State departments in their developmental programmes.
India was among the first few countries to have taken timely cognizance of the enormity of the soil erosion problems. Established as a Regional Centre in 1954, the Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute was reorganized as a Central Institute of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in 1974. It has now eight Regional Centres at Agra, Bellary, Chandigarh, Datia, Koraput, Kota, Udhagamandalam and Vasad, which along with Headquarters at Dehradun caters to the location-specific needs of different regions. The Institute has four Divisions – Soil Science and Agronomy; Hydrology & Engineering; Plant Sciences; and Human Resource Development & Social Sciences. The Institute was renamed as Indian Institute of Soil and Water Conservation (ICAR-IISWC) by ICAR on April 7, 2014.
The principal mandate of the Institute is conservation of natural resources, especially soil and water, dovetailed with production from arable as well as non-arable lands. Through its network of Headquarter and Regional Research Centres at nine locations having annual rainfall ranging from 510 mm (Bellary) to 1625 mm (Dehradun), and different soil types, including alluvial, medium and deep black, red, lateritic, and forest & hill soils, the Institute undertakes research, training and extension activities in multi-disciplinary mode in seven agro-ecological regions of the country. The Institute has been identified as a nodal agency to impart long duration specialized training programmes to Central and State Government Officers and Graduate Assistants in the field of Soil and Water Conservation and Watershed Management as per specific demands of the organizations.