(The Gist of Kurukshetra) CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE (CA)  [OCTOBER-2019]




Conservation Agriculture (CA) has been viewed as an important strategy against food security challenges posed by climate change, deterioration and depletion of soil health, reducing or stagnating crop yields, land degradation and environmental pollution. Currently, CA has spread to about 8 percent of the world's croplands and has also gained some ground in India over the last one and half decades.

The rice-wheat dominated region is also surrounded by rice/sugarcane-wheat growing regions, western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, where a huge amount of rice and wheat crop residues are generated but due to a low population of dairy/ draught animals their disposal is a problem; thus framers burn the crop residues in-situ to clear the fields and make them ready for the next crop, which cause a very serious atmospheric pollution problem, particularly during November-December months when rice crop residue is burnt in large quantities. Heat and moisture stress are other serious issues of crop production. Thus, conservation agriculture has a good scope in this geographically important region.
Any sound research efforts made here can be easily shown/ demonstrated or disseminated to a large number of targeted groups or clientele. Conservation Agriculture is defined as
a sustainable agriculture production system comprising a set of farming practices adapted to the requirements of crops and local conditions of each region, whose farming and soil management techniques protect the soil from erosion and degradation, improve its quality and biodiversity, and contribute to the preservation of the natural resources, water and air, while optimizing yields. This novel resource conservation practice encompasses no or minimum soil disturbance, providing a vegetative soil cover through crop residues or other cover crops, and crop rotations for achieving higher productivity and reducing adverse environmental impacts. The CA shouldered by three major pillaring principles, viz.,

  • Minimum soil disturbance;
  • Maintenance of permanent soil covers and
  • Cropping system diversity, crop rotations, which must be fulfilled to CA objectives.

Regarding minimum soil disturbance, there can be no-tillage (NT) or reduced tillage (RT) restrictive to primary tillage only. These three related core principles must be concurrently applied to create synergies. All three principles show lot of promises in alleviating problems like sustaining soil health, conserving natural resources, fulfilling basic needs for cereals, pulses, oilseeds and vegetables. regulating farm income, securing food and nutritional security, reducing the use of external inputs, ensuring environmental safety and creating employment opportunity.
Government of India has made provision of Rs.1140crore in the Budget 2019- 20 for eco-friendly management of crop residues, especially rice and wheat residue in Northern plains. Similarly, many states are also committed to demote residue burning and promoting CA based practices through providing subsidies on suitable machineries like 'Happy Seeder’. It has now been seen that residue burning has reduced drastically in Indo-Gangetic Plains. CA based crop management practices not only enhance crop productivity but also reduce the cost of production and maintain soil health.

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Courtesy: Kurukshetra