Technology for dryland farming

Dr. R.D. Gupta
By definition dryland farming or dryland agriculture obtains low rainfall as compared to rainfed farming. Further, it is added that dryland agriculture possessed more hostile environments than that of rainfed. Dryland farming constitutes about 72 per cent of the total cropped area of 143 million hectares (Mha) in India contributing to about 42 per cent of total food production (Reddy, 2001). Almost entire coarse grains and about 75 per cent of oil seeds and pulses are obtained from dryland agriculture. Contrary to this, around two thirds of rice, rape seed and mustards and one third of wheat are grown in the rainfed agriculture. However, the yield of these crops is low in these farming systems as compared to irrigated agriculture, which can be increased by using suitable technology.
The integrated technology of dry land agriculture and rainfed agriculture developed by the scientists has shown its immense potential to meet all the needs of the farmers-food, fodder, fuel wood, timber, fruits and, vegetables. For its success, it is necessary to create permanent assets for the farmers of dry land and rainfed agriculture. There are seven major steps for effective transfer of dry land and rainfed agriculture. These are as follows:
Management of land.
Creation of pond or tanks to store run off loss, is the need of the hour as the stored water can be used for irrigation.
Digging of percolation tanks on community basis is another need.
Giving more attention to animal husbandry is also an essentiality.
Developing dry land Horticulture/Olericulture is also necessary.
Introducing improved agriculture implements is another affecting dryland farming.
Encouraging subsidiary occupations like beekeeping, sericulture, mushroom cultivation etc, to increase income. It may be:
India is called rural country. It is because nearly 700 million people dwell in more then 60,00,000 villages spanning over 150 million households. Thus India is called “Rural India”. “Out of 700 million people living in the villages, about 600 million individuals are engaged in farming and more then 80 percent of them belong to the small and marginal farmers categories ( Swaminathan 2005). Owing to imperfect adaptation to local environments, in sufficient provision of nutrients and water and incomplete control of pests, diseases and weeds. The present average yield to main farming systems in India is 40 per cent of what can be achieved even with the current available technology. However, there is considerable scope for further investment in land improvement, through drainage, terracing, control of acidification and salinization/ sodiumization in areas where these have not been commenced so far. India therefore, requires to identify projects which need marginal investment for completion so as to develop an integrated input supply system. It will help to produce about 325 million tonnes of food grains to feed an expected population of about 1.5 billion to 2025.
A few of the areas which can prove a boon for the uplifment of the rural people, are detailed below. It has been mentioned that even by the year 2020 when an entire irrigation potential in the country is expected to be fully exploited there would still be 70 Mha of crop of lands which would remain rainfed. Jammu and Kashmir regions of Jammu and Kashmir State are predominantly rainfed with only 30 per cent and 40 per cent irrigated areas, respectively. Coupled with this, the rainfed areas presently display the scenario of denudation and degradation of lands. The dryland agriculture technology generated through watershed development, the latest concept to test and develop technology is the most suitable for the area. “Water shed development envisages an all round development of the dryland areas i.e. agriculture, horticulture/olericulture, animal-husbandry as well as soil and water conservation, agrostrology and forestry”. National watershed development project for rainfed areas (NWDPRA) was Introduced in Jammu division in 1990-1991 with selection of 30 watersheds. Keri National Watershed in block Bhalwal, Jammu district was one of them. As already explained that watershed development programme being an integrated one is to bring about over all development in whole of the watershed area. An affective area of the Keri Watershed was 500ha both arable and nonarable with undulating topography, degraded land and severe soil erosion problem. This watershed comprised four villages viz Keri, Padmi, Galani and Aurakh. The new technology followed in the watershed development consisted of introduction of multiple cropping having an order of maize, toria and wheat (IWP-72 variety), pomegranate plantation, kinnow and mango plantations. Introduced loose boulder check dams with vegetative support to check soil erosion and stabilize the area with low cost technology.
Silvipastoral system of agro-forestry was also introduced. One multipurpose Center was constructed at a cost Rs. 1.20 lakhs. The center is providing all the agriculture inputs at one place to the farmers of watershed. Gopals mitter, and Kisans are assembled for deliberating their problems. Another example for the upliftmen’s of the rural people through watershed development project can be quoted of 32 micro watershed falling under 72 number of village development committees in project area, Akhnoor sub-division. The area was once growing either maize and wheat or maize and barley with pulses like black gram and gram, but now it has started cultivating a number of vegetables like tomato, peas, onion and garlic and other vegetables.
A number of check dams, earthen dams have been built to check soil erosion and conserve water, several wells ponds and bowalies or baulies have also been constructed/upgrade to make the water situation better both for drinking, irrigation purposes. Hybride seeds are now being produced. Likewise in horticulture sector orchards of Citrus fruits, Mangoes, Litchies were raised on waste lands. After complete survey of 82 watersheds of Doda, district during 2001-2002 (Gupta and Sharma, 2003), suitable species of fuel wood, fodder trees along with engineering measures were recommended. Small water storage tanks were suggested to be dugout in way paths so as to entrap both. Soil and water. Stall feeding to be encouraged in the grazing area, and adoption of silvi-pastoral system of agroforestry were the suitable measure recommended in the area to check the overgrazing of the pastures and to control soil erosion in the eroded areas. To prevent landslides suitable spurs coupled with retaining walls were advised to be raised in land slip or land slide prone area. Silvi-horticulture, silvi-pastoral, silvi-agro, were too advocated to be used in the waste lands.
(The author is former Ex. Associate Dean cum Chief Scientist SKUAST, Jammu)