Dryland farming in India
01. Dryland Farming / Dryland Agriculture
02. Work on dry farming in India
03. Principal dry farming zones in india
04. Steps for raising productivity in dry farming
05. Water harvesting systems
06. Agronomic approaches in dryland farming
07. Cropping systems for dryland agriculture
08. Recommendations for dry farming areas in India
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Dryland Farming and Dryland Farming in India
By 2010 A.D., India will have to produce 300 million tonnes of food grains to feed her 1.5 billion population (approx.). This target cannot be realized from irrigated areas alone as we have irrigation potential for 178 million hectares only. Therefore, we will have to evolve an appropriate technology for dry land farming. On the other hand, we can say that second 'green revolution' in Indian agriculture can be had in rainfed/dryland agriculture. This is important to improve the standard of living of farmers residing in these areas as well.
In this article, all the aspects of dry land farming including problems of dry farming and recommendations for raising productivity in dry farming have been fully discussed. This article is prepared mainly to help people working for socio-economic development of the rural poor farming classes: scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and women.
Introduction on dryland farmingIndia has about 108 million hectares of rainfed area which constitutes nearly 75% of the total 143 million hectares of arable land. In such areas crop production becomes relatively difficult as it mainly depends upon intensity and frequency of rainfall. The crop production, therefore, in such areas is called rainfed farming as there is no facility to give any irrigation, and even protective or life saving irrigation is not possible. These areas get an annual rainfall between 400 mm to 1000 mm which is unevenly distributed, highly uncertain and erratic. In certain areas the total annual rainfall does not exceed 500mm. The crop production, depending upon this rain, is technically called dry land farming and areas are known as dry lands.
India has about 47 million hectares of dry lands out of 108 million hectares of total rain fed area. Dry lands contribute 42% of the total food grain production of the country. These areas produce 75% of pulses and more than 90% of sorghum, millet, groundnut and pulses from arid and semi-arid regions. Thus, dry lands and rainfed farming will continue to playa dominant role in agricultural production.
Dry lands, besides being water deficient, are characterized by high evaporation rates, exceptionally high day temperature during summer, low humidity and high run off and soil erosion. The soil of such areas are often found to be saline and low in fertility. As water is the most important factor of crop production, inadequacy and uncertainty of rainfall often cause partial or complete failure of the crops which leads to period of scarcities and famines. Thus the life of both human being and cattle in such areas becomes difficult and insecure.
Despite all these improvements in agriculture, we have yet not been able evolve an appropriate package of practices for our dry land areas. The income of farmers of dry land regions is still very low land areas. The income of farmers of dry land regions is still very low. To feed our one billion population that we will have by 2000 A.D., we will require food grains 10 the tune of 240 million tonnes approximately. For achieving this target we will have to harness every inch of our cultivable lands, especially dry lands, with utmost care.
Dry farming or dryland farming may be defined as: " a practice of growing profitable crops without irrigation in areas which receive an annual rainfall of 500 mm or even less. "
Efforts are being made to bring more area under irrigated agriculture and thereby to increase cropping intensity. But, even when we achieve our target of 113 million hectares of irrigated area by 2000 A.D., we would still have about 45% area under rainfed cultivation. We continue to stress on intensive agriculture on irrigated land but we can not afford to be complacent with our dry lands. Therefore, improved dry farming is necessary for equity and prosperity. As such we can not achieve stability in food production with unstabilized dry land agriculture. Therefore, we are required to adopt improved technology especially developed for dry land agriculture.
Characteristics of Dryland AgricultureDry land areas may be characterized by the following features:
1.uncertain, ill-.distributed and limited annual rainfall;
2. occurrence of extensive climatic hazards like drought, flood etc;
3. undulating soil surface;
4. occurrence of extensive and large holdings;
5. practice of extensive agriculture i.e. prevalence of monocropping etc;
6. relatively large size of fields;
7. similarity in types of crops raised by almost all the farmers of a particular region;
8. very low crop yield;
9. poor market facility for the produce;
10. poor economy of the farmers; and
11. poor health of cattle as well as farmers.
Problems of Dry Farming in IndiaThe major problem which the farmers have to face very often is to keep the crop plants alive and to get some economic returns from the crop production. But this single problem is influenced by several factors which are briefly described below.
Moisture stress and uncertain rainfallAccording to definition the dry farming areas receive an annual rainfall of 500 mm or even less. The rains are very erratic, uncertain and unevenly distributed. Therefore, the agriculture in these areas has become a sort of gamble with the nature and very often the crops have to face climatic hazards. The farmers also take up farming halfheartedly as they are not sure of being able to harvest the crops. Thus, water scarcity becomes a serious bottleneck in dry land agriculture.
Effective storage of rain waterAccording to characteristics of dry farming, either there will be no rain at all or there will be torrential rain with very high intensity. Thus, in the former case the crops will have to suffer a severe drought and in the latter case they suffer either flood or water logging and they will be spoilt In case of very heavy downpour, the excess water gets lost as run-off which goes to the ponds and ditches etc. This water could be stored for providing life saving or protective irrigation to the crops grown in dry land areas. The loss of water takes place in several ways namely run-off, evaporation, uptake through weeds etc. The water could be stored for short period or long period and it can be preserved either in soil, pond or ditches based on situation and utilized for irrigation during dry periods.
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