Besides cropping done in sequence there is another type of intensive cropping called relay cropping in which one crop is under sown in a standing crop.
Maize-soybean relay cropping
Climatic Regions of India
- Tropical monsoon regions with average temperatures ranging between 18-29°C and rainfall more than 200 cms covering western coastal plains, Assam and north-eastern States.
- Tropical savanah region with temperatures from 18°C to over 40°C and rainfall 75-100 cms. covering most of the peninsula including Tamil Nadu.
- Tropical steppes with similar temperatures, 40-75 cms. rains along the rain-shadow areas.
- Sub-tropical steppes with varying temperatures and 30-60 cms. rains stretching from Punjab to Kutch and Ganga-plains to the peninsula.
- Tropical and sub-tropical deserts with temperatures 11°-50°C and rainfall less than 30 cms. covering deserts from Rajasthan to Kutch.
- Humid sub-tropical covering southern Himalayas from Punjab to Assam having more than 100 cms. rain in the east decreasing towards west, very cold winters and hot summers.
- Mountain climate of the trans-Himalayan, Himalayan and Karakoram regions.
Low yields in Dryland Areas
- Dryland areas not only receive little rainfall but are also subject to wide variability in its incidence.
- Where irrigation facilities are lacking in dry areas, productivity is very low on account of these factors.
- The erratic behaviour of the monsoon leads to droughts in dry land areas.
- Major dry farming crops are millets such as jowar, bajra, ragi, oilseeds like mustard, rapeseed and pulses. In slightly wetter parts, wheat and barley are also grown.
- The yields from dryland farming may be increased by
(i) Better irrigation facilities and management of water resources.
(ii) Cultivating drought resistant strains of plants.
(iii) Use of fertilisers and HYV seeds.
- In 1970-71, schemes for integrated development of dryland agriculture were launched and it was also included in the revised 20-point programme.
- Centrally sponsored projects have been started in various parts of the country to intensify and improve dryland agriculture production.
FALLOW LAND CULTIVATION
Wasteland is of two kinds:
The former has the potential for being activated but is lying fallow for various reasons like waterlogging, salinity, soil erosion, non-availability water, deforestation, unfavourable physiography, etc. Non-cultivable wastelands are barren and cannot be put to any use such as agriculture, forestry, etc. e.g., snow-covered areas of the Himalayan regions, barren deserts of Rajasthan.
Increasing cultivation over fallow land
- The extent of wasteland in India is approximately 53.3 million hectares. The largest wasteland areas are in Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan and comprise nearly 50% of the total wastelands of India.
- The Kashmir wastelands cannot be cultivated at all whereas Rajasthan wastelands can be brought under the plough if suitable inputs are made available. Cultivable wastelands can be recovered if the reason which caused them to become fallow are removed.
- Some of the ways in which this can be achieved are:
(i) Removal of salinity of soil by irrigating topsoil for dissolving sodium, calcium and magnesium salts.
(ii) Major irrigation efforts like the Indra Gandhi canal to water the desert areas of Rajasthan.
(iii) Steps to prevent soil erosion like bunding terracing, contour ploughing, levelling of uneven land, etc.
- Large areas of cultivable waste lands in U.P. and Gujarat suffer from salinity caused by over-irrigation and many areas in Assam, Western and and Eastern Ghats, and Tamil Nadu have become wasteland due to deforestation.
Research effort in biological nitrogen fixation
- Nitrogen in the form of ammonia is used by plants and microbes as a building block for the synthesis of amino acids and of other nitrogenous compounds. The conversion of atmospheric Nitrogen into ammonia by the nitrogen-fixing microbes, mostly certain bacteria and blue green algae, is called biological nitrogen-fixation.
Although leguminous plants have been used extensively in agriculture for centuries, it is possible to exploit these nitrogen fixing plants meaningfully.
- The use of new leguminous crops as well as the breeding of more vigorous and effective traditional leguminous crops can be helpful in food production.
- It would be a right type technology that all farmers, could use Legume-rhizobial combinations constitute, a built in nitrogen source of food crop production.
- There have been many research frontiers in biological nitrogen fixation. The two genetic systems involved are micro-organisms and the higher plants and then are great potential for improving the both.
- In nature, certain nitrogen fixing agents do not perform well. As a result, their nitrogen-fixing efficiency remains less though their abundance is much. It is necessary to make them highly competitive through genetic engineering.
- It will help them to establish an association with the plants in competition with the organisms occurring naturally in the ecosystem. Wherever possible, the agents should have a broad spectrum in their specificity so that they can associate with a variety of plants.
- Thus, the competitive strains developed could be introduced into the soil for better interactions of plant-bacterial association.
Usefulness of biofertilizers and efforts to make it more useful
- Although nitrogen fixers are present in the soil, enrichment of soil with effective strains is much beneficial for the crop yields.
- Chemical fertilizers have temporary effect while biofertilizers have permanent effect without any production problem. Use of composite biofertilizers can increase soil fertility.
- The cost is too much low for the biofertilizers and its proper use does not only include a correct application of the inoculant to the seed or soil, but also good crop management and provision of additional capital nutrients for the plants and inoculum.
- Biofertilizers are cost effective, cheap, and renewable source to supplement the chemical fertilizers. The Rhizobium inoculant has been found to be effective for pulses and legume oilseeds like soyabeans, groundnut and the blue-green algae for low land paddy in our country.
Process of rhizobium inoculation
- The legumes are being used as the soil-improving crops and inter-crop or in rotation with cereal grains and other high energy crops as is being practised in China, South America, Africa, Philippines and in India. They are becoming a part of cropping system research in total farming systems.
- Active linkages of scientists engaged in basic fundamental research in biological nitrogen fixation with those in mission-oriented, applied, and problem-solving research would speed the process.
- Considering the prospects of biofertilizer in the country, the biofertilizer development centres are being established both in government and private sector. It is possible to establish joint venture in biofertilizer agro based industry.
What India should do to iron out some of the major deficiencies and revitalise the agri-sector to become a growth machine?
- It should set up a “national bio-technology venture capital fund” to support and direct investment for the induction of bio-technological tools to improve yields. In addition, develop a large pool of trained extension workers to take this technology to the farmer.
- Cultivate crops which give a distinct competitive advantage in world markets. India must be in a position to capture large market share in these crops to the extent of financing our imports through the exports of these produce.
- Reduce post-harvest losses due to poor handling, storage and shoddy processing by technological upgradation.
- Stimulate investment in processing by giving adequate incentives such as a ten-year tax break to companies setting up agri-processing complex in rural/backward areas.
- Abolish octroi, entry and sales tax. Substitute these with a single point tax, on agri-produce, at a specified uniform rate, and permit free movement of agricultural produce across the country.
- Resolve GATT issues urgently to exploit the advantage of a post-GATT trade scenario where Indian agri-exports will become more price competitive.
- Expand the definition of plantation industries to include oilpalm, cashew and horticulture by bringing them out of the purview of the Land Ceilings Act. To abate declining forest cover ‘hardwood plantations’ must be encouraged and included in the category of plantation crops.
- Make companies play a predominant role in linking farmers to the banking system and capital markets. They must channel farm savings into productive uses and also provide credit at competitive rates. In addition, farmers must be aided in actively participating in the capital markets.
- Give the choice to farmers and corporations to hedge products on international commodity exchanges to minimise the risk of price fluctuations. The Government must develop a model preferably in collaboration with the Chicago Board of Trade.
- Invite farmer participation in equity in agricultural companies up to, say, 20 per cent of the equity. This will transform the corporate sector into a ‘co-operative sector.’
- Right actions can collectively lift Indian agriculture to global leadership in a short time.
Measures to augment rice export
- Redefining export grades and restricting to cultivation of those few varieties.
- Organising cultivation, procurement and processing of export quality rices.
- Modernising milling-processing industry.
- Maintaining quality control at all levels, preferably by a strong independent agency.
- Planning of strategies and intensive research for market development.
- Expanding and improving storage facilities at sea ports.
- Introducing two levels of minimum export price for two grades of basmati quality rices.
- Creating a rice export promotion council.
- Rice supply prospects for the Nineties and into the 21st century are not likely to be strong. With enough room and good opportunities for increasing rice yield, which is one of the lowest, prospects are bright for achieving targetted production growth and leaving a sizeable and stable surplus for export—the surplus always as value-added export quality rice.
- In rice trade, success and survival also depends on wisdom and determination to develop and nurture a regular, reliable and remunerative market for Indian rice.
Reasons for rapid growth of rubber industry (Rubber Board’s project)
- India is today the fourth largest natural-rubber-producing country, after Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, with eight lakh small holders. The average size of a small holding is only 0.5 hectare whereas the productivity compares with that of Malaysia, the pioneer in the industry.
- The main reasons for the rapid growth of rubber industry are:
- Attractive financial and technical incentives from the Rubber Board for new planting and replanting.
- Efficient and wide extension network.
- Remunerative stable price.
- The clone RRII 105, a prolific yielder compared to all other cultivators, both indigenous and imported.
From 1993-94 onwards, the Board had commenced implementation of a five-year World Bank Rubber Development Project which consists of the following components:
- Replanting of 40,000 hectares of old and uneconomic plantations.
- New planting in 30,000 hectares.
- Enhancing productivity in 60,000 hectares.
- There are provisions for improving processing facilities and strengthening the research and training activities of the Board.
- Under the project, the planting assistance to growers will be enhanced from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 8,000 per hectare and from Rs. 2,700 to Rs. 3,000 per hectare for poly-bagged plants. The total investment proposed under the project is Rs 453 crores.
India’s export performance of fresh vegetables is not encouraging and is erratic’.
- Indian has not been able to achieve a consistent export performance growth rate due to several constraints. The trade and production base of vegetables are not properly linked and this has resulted in the export of only the surplus vegetables from terminal markets mainly in Mumbai and Delhi.
- A system of growing exclusively for export has not been made possible and suitable varieties, quality standards, volume and period of requirements have not been taken into consideration in developing a research and development (R&D) support to exports.
- Even though in the case of onion, the Associated Agricultural Development Foundation (a subsidiary of NAFED) is engaged in developing production technology for export of good quality onion bulbs, uniform quality in respect of shape, size, colour and shelf-life have not been attained. This is due to inefficient seed production and distribution of even the improved open-pollinated varieties. A sizeable part of the kharif crop is exported during December-April from Maharashtra and Gujarat.
- Vegetable production is mostly confined to the periphery of metropolitan cities and major towns. So the production cost is higher due to high cost of land, labour and other inputs. Till now transportation was a limiting factor for export of fresh vegetables. But improved road links have partly solved the problem.
- However, the cool chain, from farm to delivery points through refrigerated transport (as for fish, milk or grape) and cold storage, has not been established fully for vegetables. Expensive air freight and inadequate cargo space are other limitations. Some beginning has been made to charter refrigerated container vessels for mango and grape exports.
- Absence of a suitable variety is keenly felt in okra, which accounts for a sizeable share in fresh vegetable export. The requirement is that fruits should be small and roundish instead of the long and ridged grown for the domestic market. The research effort should therefore be given priority.
- In case of processed vegetables major constraints have been poor technology and development of quality products. Another factor is high cost of production of raw material due to smallness of land holdings and low productivity.
- Cost of production of processed vegetables can be brought down by extensive mechanised cultivation of varieties captive to processing factories. This, however, is not possible due to the Land Ceiling Act.
- Besides, intensive R & D efforts are needed to reduce the cost of production of processed products, improve quality and adopt advanced technologies.
Flower export strategies
- India has a good potential for entering global trade as certain flowers and plants are grown in climates peculiar to India. Hence, the Government has prioritised floriculture.
- Several industries either on their own, or in collaboration with multinational companies, have shown keen interest in this capital intensive high-tech production. Some of these have already gone into production and many more will come into operation soon.
- Roses, carnations, chrysanthemums, orchids, gladioli, dry flowers, live plants and micro-propagated plantlets are potential export commodities. An intensive mobilisation of all the resources would certainly increase the exports.
The strategies are:
- Identification of product/region as “intensive floriculture zone” to achieve qualitative and specified targets.
- Creation of appropriate infrastructure and suitable technology and equipment for as pre-cooling and cool storage facilities.
- Making available on a large scale planting materials and production inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, media and packaging materials.
- Adopting export specific market production. Government has announced a major change in the policy for 100 per cent export-oriented units. Floriculture trade shall be permitted to sell 50 per cent of their production in the domestic market. This will enable floral units to dispose their surplus in the domestic market.
- Strengthening the market intelligence network which will provide advice to producers regarding demand/supply position in the international market and also negotiate the price for Indian products. These networks may also provide latest practices in grading, packing and consumer preferences.
- Establishing service centres cum auction houses in potential zones.
- Giving importance to production promotion activities and advertising.
- Creation and formation of co-operative florist organisations to safeguard the producers/growers and enable them to control the marketing of their products.
- The Government should support to the industry as a whole and export oriented floriculture in particular.
- International trade scene is fast changing and opportunities appear only for brief periods. India should seize this opportunity.
- Green manures can play a major role in integrated plant nutrition but not if their use is restricted to in situ growing preceding the main crop. The prospects of green leaf manuring using material grown elsewhere and using tender twigs and loppings of leguminous trees are indeed vast.
- A good green manure of Sesbania (Dhaincha) can add nitrogen equivalent to 60-80 kg/ha of fertiliser nitrogen.
- Traditionally, green manures are seen as sources for augmenting nitrogen. In fact, they do much more than that through recycling of sub-soil nutrients and improving the soil’s physical conditions. Results of many on-farm trials show that on an average, paddy yield increases by 40 kg/t of green manure.
- A tonne of green manure is the same as 9-10 kg urea (in terms of impact on crop productivity). Green manuring is currently done in less than five per cent of the cropped area.
- While deciding to grow green manure (potential contribution 60 kg N/ha worth Rs. 360 at existing urea prices), most farmers usually ask whether it is worthwhile to grow instead of a short duration high-value pulse crop with the same resources and buy 60 kg nitrogen.
- The spread and success of green manuring are determined by the cost and effort of raising the green manure, relative economics of competing land uses and the price of fertilizer nitrogen. There is merit in giving priority to leguminous trees in all tree-planting and social forestry programmes in villages as green leaf manure will become available.
Recently there has been some interest in identifying microbial pesticidal agents as these are environment-friendly. Its other advantages are
(i) They are not carcinogenic and
(ii) They operate with a high degree of insect specificity. Among these insecticides, the toxic chemical (a protein) produced by a soil-borne bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis, commonly referred to as BT is the most important. It has been successfully developed as a commercial insecticide in many countries.
- In India, BT’s use was banned till 1991 because of the perceived threat to silkworms due to the fear that the spores of BT will affect them. To circumvent this problem, non-sporulating strains of BT which are toxic to specific insects have been developed at the NRCPB.
- Among several viruses known to kill insects, nuclear polyhedrosis viruses (NPVs) and the granulosis virus (GV) have received considerable attention as they are insect specific. Some NPVs are easy to multiply and permit large scale production.
- Many fungi can infect insects and these have the potential of being commercially exploited. This trade uses fungi such as Boverin for Colorado potato beetle (Russia) and Metaquion for controlling bug of sugarcane (Brazil).
Vermicomposting is the process of growing earth-worms in various kinds of waste material and using the excretion of the earth-worms as manure which contains PNK.
VermicompostingThe earthworms are useful in land reclamation, soil improvement and organic waste management. The worms can accumulate certain heavy metals, industrial effluents, various biocides and other agricultural chemicals and their residues. They are also used as a protein-rich source of animal feed. They act as waste controllers, compost manufacturers and protein producers.
The scientists at the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai have isolated a new bacterium from wild rice, endowed with the capacity to fix atmospheric nitrogen in plants and solubilise tricalcium phosphate. This duel property bacterium has been named Swaminathania Salitolerans, in honour of the distinguished agricultural scientist Prof. M.S. Swaminathan, the father of green revolution.
The new bacterium holds great promise as a potential bio-fertilizer for rice and a host of other crops. It has high tolerance to salinity and it will be a great boom for farmers in saline tracks. The bacterium can do well in normal soils also. The bacterium can be ideally used in integrated plant nutrient management and it can help is substantial saving in the application of mineral nitrogen and phosphorus. Thus it can help reduce the cost of inputs. It can prevent the loss of applied nitrogen from the soil and increase the nitrogen and phosphorus uptake by the plants.
Integrated Nutrient Plan
There is an erroneous impression that higher fertiliser-use leads to higher yields. With less fertiliser per hectare, highest productivity is possible. For instance, the per hectre consumption of NPK in the US is 42 kg, but the cereal yield is around 5.5 tonnes.
Integrated nutrient managementLikewise, cotton yields in India are less than 20 per cent of the yields achieved elsewhere. However, Indian farmer use 25 times as much water to raise to tonne of cotton as compared to California. Due importance should be given to the Integrated Nutrient Management (INM). INM is a flexible approach to minimise the use of chemicals, but maximise efficiency and far profit.
Overuse and abuse harm based on three principles:
(i) Assessment of the basic soil fertility and climate.
(ii) Nature of the crop, not in isolation, but as a part of the cropping system and yield target.
(iii) At least 30 percent of the total nutrient levels of NPK to be in organic form.
Possible hazards of GM crops
- Transgenic crops may cause reduced biodiversity existing with us in a long run.
- The transgene may be transferred to related species, weed or wild relatives, through pollen, leading to the development of so called ‘Super Weeds’.
- Transgenics resistant to pests and pathogens may provoke evolution of new and more virulent biotypes.
- The novel gene product may alter the ecology by their effect on non-target organisms.
- The transgene product may pose a biohazard to man and other organisms.
- Various intermediate of the transgenic products or their degradation products may pose health hazards.
Direct Benefits of GM Crops
- Reduced use of broad spectrum insecticide.
- Lower farming risks and production costs.
- Better yields and profitability.
- Expanded opportunities to grow in non-traditional areas.
- Brighter economic outlook for the cotton industry.
- Improved safety of farm workers and neighbours.
Indirect Benefits of GM crops
- Reduced use of broad spectrum insecticides produces benefits that include :
- Increased effectiveness of beneficial arthropods as pest control agents.
- Improved control of non-target pests.
- Reduced risks for farmland wildlife species.
- Reduced run-off of broad spectrum insecticides.
- Lower levels of air pollution.
Transgenic technology has the potential to usher in a second green revolution, though there are apprehensions and misconceptions about it. The most often expressed fear is, what will happen if the modified genes are transmitted to other plants or animals. But it must not be forgotten that transfer of genes is constantly taking place in nature and on a magnitude several order higher. In fact, plant breeders cross wild plants with crop varieties to transfer genes through conventional breeding methods.
The natural gene Cry 1Ac has been further modified by Monsanto Inc,. USA. the transgenic cotton varieties containing this improved gene have been branded “Bollgard” by the Company. In India, Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Ltd. (MAHYCO) has hybrids. These lines have been named MECH (Mahyo’s Early Cotton Hybrid) with a number suffixed suchas 12, 162, 184 and 915.