Agricultural Diversification

Prof (Dr) R.D. Gupta
Agricultural diversification is traditionally and closely associated with subsistence farming. It is one of the important aspect of food security at the house hold level. Generally, it is agreed upon that agricultural diversification assists human beings to obtain food security through providing sufficient and healthy foods. Raring live stock also get feed and fodder in a regular way. Agricultural diversification furnishes with sufficient jobs to the rural people. Apart from all these aspects, it helps in maintaining the soil fertility which is considered the basic pillar for production of food, fodder, medicinal plants and timber. Agricultural diversification is an important mechanism for controlling destructive crop pests.
Role of green manuring in rice and wheat cropping sequence.
The nutrient use efficiency is very low in rice-wheat cropping sequence, resulting, thereby, in low yield of these crops. It is attributed to less use of organic manure after an inception of green revolution which came to fore during 1967-1968. Sowing of dhaincha (Sesbania aculeata) after harvesting wheat and its incorporation before flowering in the soil prior to transplanting the rice improves the soil organic carbon and other plant nutrients content vis-à-vis increase in the yields of rice and wheat. This left out practice after green revolution is again springing up especially in the North West Himalayan states-Uttrakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu region of Jammu & Kashmir state, as well as sub-mountain areas of Siwaliks like Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
Use of green manuring of dhaincha along with full nitrogen dose has given 6.6 per cent more yield than farmer’s practice under Uttrakhand soil conditions. This inspired the farmers to adopt green manuring practice in large scale. Now about 60% of the farmers of village Kiratpur are practising green manuring practice. Uttrakhand Government has selected this village in Basmati export zone project.
Many of the farmers of rice growing areas of Jammu particularly those of R.S.Pura and Marh, are also doing green manuring in basmati rice 370 variety as per the recommendation of Krish Vigyan Kendra Jammu, under SKUAST-J. Similarly, the farmers of Kangra valley, Hamirpur and Una districts in Himachal Pradesh follow this practice like that of Hoshiarpur, Ludhiana, Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts of Punjab.
Grow more pulses in rice-wheat cropping sequence
Before green revolution in a number of sub-mountainous areas of Siwalik lying in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir, farmers usually used to grow pulses. Some areas of Kandi belt of Jammu like Amb Garota, Kote, Chinore, Akhnoor, Samba were once great producers of gram, moth and kulth, but now a days these are no more grown. Taking into consideration on the aforesaid positions the only option to follow timely and effectively space utilization in agriculture by adopting diversified agricultural crops as stated above. Adoption of pulses as diversified agriculture will not only help in obtaining in higher food grain production but also covers the risk of raising of crop production alone in country’s nearly 70% dryland agriculture. Not only this, the pulses so grown will ensure the food nutritional security being rich in proteins. Pulses being leguminous crops will also fix atmospheric nitrogen in soils and, thereby, increase their fertility.
Diversification of rice-wheat system through inclusion of vegetables:
For increasing the profitability of rice-wheat cropping sequence, vegetable pea planted in between the harvesting of paddy and sowing of wheat has shown the net return increase by 32.48% in Uttrakhand. Not only vegetable pea, but cultivation of other vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, knokhol, in many villages of Solan district of Himachal Pradesh has proved beneficial to the vegetable growers. It is because these are off season vegetables and as such are exported to plains. This brings higher income besides more employment generation and optimized use of natural resources. Similarly at certain places of mid to high altitude intermediate zone of Jammu region, a number of offseason vegetables like tomato, potato, green peas and beans as well as cabbage, caultiflower, knolkhol and bitter gourd, are grown and sent to plains. Baggarh and Assar areas of Doda district and Chenani area of of Udhampur district are the other glaring examples from this angle. Low altitude subtropical irrigated zone of Jammu especially Marh, R.S.Pura and Bishnah blocks are very popular for growing of vegetables like garlic, onion, potato, besides cauliflower, cabbage and knolkhol, and cucumber, bottle gourd, lady finger. Water melon and musk melons are also grown. A very good crop of tomato is now being grown in Akhnoor tehsil of Jammu district by the farmers. Bottle gourd, chillies, onion, turnip, radish are grown in certain pockets.
The study was conducted in Purura, Tallihat in Bageshwar district and Lobans and Chanouda in Almora district with the objective to validate the diversification in traditional rice based cropping sequence at farmer’s fields. This experiment showed that in rice-wheat cropping sequence, the famers can take vegetable pea, radish and tomato for better net income. This would increase the economic efficiency many folds along with B:C (Benefit cost) ratio.
Conservation tillage
For reducing the high tillage cost for land preparation of wheat after harvest of paddy and also minimizing the pollution due to paddy straw burning in combine harvested paddy, wheat was sown by surface seeding method followed by paddy straw mulching. As the wheat was sown timely, a yield increase of 11.1% was recorded in surface seeding and net return of about Rs. 2597.0 was obtained. Also there was no environmental pollution due to burning of rice straw. Application of fertilizers based on Soil Test
Farmers apply excessive dose of nitrogenous fertilizer and low that of phosphate and potosh which results not only in more incidence of pests and diseases but also gives low yield in rice and wheat. So fertilizers should be added on the basis of soil test. In the absence of soil test, NPK fertilizers should be added as per the prescribed recommendatis by maintaining their ratio in the form of 4:2:1.
It is summarized that agricultural diversification in terms of reviving green manuring practice increases the yield of rice and wheat. Likewise diversification of rice-wheat system and surface seeding of wheat increases the yield and net return. Above experience also showed that in traditional cropping sequence of rice-wheat, farmers can take vegetables pea, tomato, radish, cauliflowers, cabbage, knolkhol, etc for better net income. This would increase the economic efficiency many folds along with benefit cost ratio. In other traditional sequence of rice-fallow if potato is sown instead of keeping the fields fallow then many fold benefits in terms of per day per hectare can be accrued. Growing of pulses in rice-wheat cropping pattern will deal with food nutritional insecurity by way of providing proteins. They will also enrich the soil by atmospheric nitrogen fixation.
(The author is former Associate Dean-cum-cum Chief Scientist KVK, SKUAST-J)


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