Novel resource conservation technologies for increasing the production and productivity of rice-wheat cropping system in Indo-Gangetic plains of India
The rice-wheat cropping system (RWCS) is the predominant cropping system, covering about 13.5 million hectares area in South Asia, out of which 10.3 million hectares is in the Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) of India. Rice and wheat crops are the main staple food for the people of the country and considered as the backbone for food grain security. Contributing 70 per cent to total cereal production in India due to its wider adoption, it has depleted soil organic carbon status, ground water, decreased soil fertility and has overall reduced factor productivity. Efforts to sustain higher productivity with focused approach on reversing the trend in natural resource degradation by adopting resource conservation technologies (RCTs) like direct seeded rice (DSR), system of rice intensification (SRI), aerobic rice, brown manuring, crop residue incorporation, furrow irrigated raised bed system (FIRBS), zero tillage (ZT) and leaf colour chart (LCC) that not only improved the production and productivity but also maintained the soil health. The RCTs helped in soil and water conservation, weed control and nutrient supplementation with brown manuring, reduction in seepage, deep drainage losses and water saving (10-30%) with AWD, reduced global warming potential of rice-wheat system by 41 per cent as compared to conventional system under DSR-ZT wheat. Apart from this, new emerging technologies like system of wheat intensification (SWI), LCC application for nitrogen management, bed transplanting in rice followed by laser levelling in wheat with zero tillage wheat with incorporation of rice residues over conventional transplanting also showed promising results. Thus, adoption of RCTs led to sustainable improvement in RWCS by improving soil health, nutrient and water use efficiency with higher sustained yields along with reduction in cost of cultivation and also helped to minimize environmental pollution.
Resource conservation technologies, Zero tillage, Productivity, SWI, Nutrient management, RWCS.