After reading this article you will learn about:- 1. Meaning of Crop Diversification 2. Agro-Climatic Zones of Punjab 3. Intensive Cropping System
Meaning of Crop Diversification:
Rice and wheat are the prominent crops in Punjab state as these cover about 28.3 and 35.1 lakh hectare areas, respectively. During the last five decades there is incredible shift in area from groundnut, oilseeds, sugarcane and pulses to paddy.
Rice- wheat cropping system requires approximately 215 cm of irrigation water during a year, out of which 80 % of irrigation water is consumed by rice crop. Rice crop cultivation has exploited the soil health in Punjab.
Crop diversification refers to growing alternate crops by reducing some area under rice- wheat with other crops such as potato, maize, basmati rice, pulses, oilseed crops, sugarcane and fodder etc. The crop diversification has become an important option to achieve several objectives viz. natural resource sustainability, ecological balance, enhancing farmer income, buffer stocks, employment generation, risk coverage, etc.
There are various initiatives taken by Government of Punjab for agricultural diversification and some projects are also in pipeline and forwarded to Central Government for the farmers welfare and agricultural diversification. Research projects are being carried out in Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana to develop relevant, more profitable and eco-friendly cropping systems.
Agro-Climatic Zones of Punjab:
In Punjab, the total area under cultivation is about 41.58 lakh hectare. Punjab has been divided into 3 agro-climatic zones i.e. sub-mountainous zone, Central Zone and South-West Zone (Fig 7.1).
i. Undulating Mountain Zone:
Lies at the Himalayan foothills and it receive almost double rainfall in comparison to south-west Punjab, therefore; the problem of soil erosion persists in undulating mountain region. Most prevalent crops cultivated in this zone are wheat, maize, rice, potato and oilseeds. Kandi belts covers 9% of area under sub-mountainous region. Rainfed area is also included in this region.
ii. Central Zone:
Rice-Wheat is the main cropping system in central Punjab. The underground water of this region is of good quality. Depleting water table is the major problem of this region and approximately 74 cm of water table depletes every year. Due to this problem farmers have to increase the bore depth every year.
Most of the farmers have to opt for submersible pumps to meet the irrigation requirements of crops which in-turn increase the cost of production. The other crops grown in this area are maize, basmati, potato, peas, sugarcane, sunflower, chilies, etc.
iii. South-Western Zone:
Cotton-wheat cropping system is dominant in South-Western Zone of Punjab. The area where rice can be cultivated, farmers prefer to cultivate rice over cotton. The groundwater of this region is mostly saline or saline sodic. During Rabi season some fanners also cultivate oilseed crops.
In Punjab almost 98% of area is under irrigation. Punjab is having approximately 14 lakh tube wells. Canal irrigation is also adopted as an alternative to ground water. With the introduction of high yielding Rice-Wheat varieties, various problems has also been emerged out such as nutrient mining, depleting water table, decrease in organic carbon content of soil, loss of biodiversity, emergence of new insect-pest and weeds, more use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, increase in cost of crop production, decrease in profitability and climatic changes.
To solve the above said problems and to fulfill the food, pulses and oil requirement of increasing population of India, crop diversification can be adopted.
Intensive Cropping System:
It means that when farmer sow more than two crops in a year. It mainly aims to grow more than two crops in time between the harvesting of first crop and sowing of next crop. It can only be possible if the selected crops give more yields and have less crop duration.
Advantages of Intensive Cropping System:
1. This system is helpful in attaining higher yields even from small land holdings.
2. It also helps in tackling climate change.
3. It is helpful in maintaining balanced nutrition.
4. It helps in conserving natural resources.
5. It helps in reducing the use of chemical fertilizers.
6. It helps in increasing employment opportunities.
7. It is helpful in maintaining agro- ecosystem.
In addition to this the cultivation of leguminous crops in cropping system also helps in increasing soil fertility through nitrogen fixation with the help of rhizobium bacterium.