AGRICULTURE TRIBUNE Monday, June 5, 2000, Chandigarh, India
  Rain water harvesting for hill farming
By B.S. Deor

AINFED farming is beset with many complex problems in India in general and the hills in particular where Himachal Pradesh is no exception. The scope for strengthening irrigation facilities is poor in the near future and still more than 65 per cent of the cropped area of this hill state will continue to be entirely dependent on rains so far as crop production is concerned.

Women need recognition as farmers
By S.C. Dhall

VEN though women have always played a central role in agriculture, they are not recognised as farmers in their own right.

Technologies to control water table
by N.K. Narda

HE enhanced irrigation water requirement of intensive agriculture has resulted in over-exploitation of ground water resources leading to decline in the water table in many states of the country, especially Punjab Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Gujarat, where the water table has been declining at an alarming rate almost in all the areas having good quality ground water.

Factors influencing reproduction in cows
By Soshil Rattan

ATTLE improvement is dependent on normal and regular reproduction of the cows. Irregular reproduction can be attributed to various factors of which malnutrition causing stress may be one of them.




Rain water harvesting for hill farming
By B.S. Deor

RAINFED farming is beset with many complex problems in India in general and the hills in particular where Himachal Pradesh is no exception. The scope for strengthening irrigation facilities is poor in the near future and still more than 65 per cent of the cropped area of this hill state will continue to be entirely dependent on rains so far as crop production is concerned. More so, the problems of our hill agriculture are different from those of plains or low-lying areas irrigation facilities and agro-technology are well developed and thus farm income is also high. As a matter of fact, research farm was established in mid-hill area of Himachal Pradesh at Sundernagar in 1978 under the aegis of Himachal Pradesh Krishi

Vishvavidyalaya, Palampur, with a view to tackling the problems of rainfed farming situation at the grassroots level. The research farm is located in changer-water deficit area — in Mandi district at an attitude of 874 metres above sea level, representing agro-climatic conditions of the mid-hill sub-humid zone where wheat, maize, upland rice, oilseeds and pulses are the important crops. The average annual precipitation is 1238 mm, out of which 80 per cent is received during monsoon (June-September) and the remaining 20 per cent in winter (October-May). Half of the precipitation is lost to the atmosphere through surface evaporation and the rest of it is left to meet the water requirement of the crops albeit efficient efforts are made to conserve it directly in-situ or indirectly stored through water harvesting techniques called as ex-situ conservation for use at the time of water stress to provide life-saving irrigation to the crops.

Recently a team of scientists working at this station has tested and also demonstrated so-called “eco-friendly” technology of rain water harvesting at the station and have found to be most promising and resilient to rainfed situation. This technology comprising collection of free flowing surface run-off water during the rainy season is diverted from the sloppy inter-terraces and stored in polylined tank dug at an appropriate site and from where water is further carried out under the influence of gravity force to irrigate the crops standing in the field. The size as well as shape of the tank may depend upon many factors such as location, area of the farm, soil type infiltration capacity, rainfall intensity and slope of the fields, etc. Now with the rapid development of micro drip and sprinkling irrigation system, harvested rain water can be more efficiently utilised to increase the farm income per unit area per unit time and per unit of water application. Notwithstanding, crop diversification from the traditional farming system to the vegetable-based cropping system is also possible even under rained condition. From experimental findings it has been experienced that a net farm income of Rs 4,68,310 was obtained from tomato-radish-green pea crop sequence followed by a Rs

4,31,540 per hectare per year from tomato-baroccol vegetable sequence. Therefore, shifting from the high-yield crop concept to raising value-added crop under rainfed crop farming situation to bring about a change in the present scenario of agriculture under rainfed farming condition “water harvesting technology” per-se needs to be popularised among the farmers of the hill state to improve their farm income and living standard as well. In this regard the Department of Agriculture and the NGOs can play major role in providing the necessary technical knowhow and financial assistance to help implement the technology at the village or panchayat level so that the farmer, who is the ultimate beneficiary, is benefitted.Top


Women need recognition as farmers
By S.C. Dhall

EVEN though women have always played a central role in agriculture, they are not recognised as farmers in their own right.

As farmers women cannot claim formal ownership of land or other productive assets and as agricultural workers they are paid lower wages than men. They have only limited access to the subsidised resources and support services provided to men farmers by the Department of Agriculture. Their restricted mobility, responsibility for all household tasks and lack of access to knowledge and information all contribute towards constraining their productivity. Also with the increasing degradation of natural resources, women’s struggle for water, fuel and fodder is consuming more and more of their time and energy.

The Government of India in collaboration with the UNDP seeks to address this situation in three of India’s poorest states — Uttar Pradesh, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh — by empowering and enabling the women to claim their entitlement as primary producers in agriculture. This reflected a significant step forward from earlier perceptions of women’s role as secondary to those of men. In contrast, these programmes are rooted in a recognition of women as farmers in their own right.

Developed through an intensive bottom-up process of consultation between stake-holders, these programmes are designed to meet the specific needs of women farmers in each state. Synergies will be built between the organised strength of women’s groups and the resources and technical expertise of the departments of agriculture in the states concerned.

In each state, groups of women farmers will be helped to link with the Department of Agriculture and the agricultural extension system, and gain access to productive assets, including land and credit, technologies, inputs, subsidies, training and other services provided by the government.

A package of practices and technologies soil and water management, crop optimisation and promotion of off-farm alternatives, including processing and marketing of agro-forestry products, will contribute to increasing the productivity of local agriculture. Building the capacities of functionaries of the agricultural extension system is a major area of focus, in order to sensitise them to gender issues in agriculture and to enable them to respond effectively to the needs and priorities of women farmers.

Given the present openness of the governments in all three states to changes at the policy level, a policy influencing component has been built into these programmes.

The struggles of women groups in these states — on women’s right to land titles, girl child labour, alienation of tribal land, equal wages and the right to work — will be documented and analysed for their policy implications. Advisory structures set up under these programmes will involve senior policy makers and decision makers who are also involved in re-examining and reformulating land and forest policies in order to advocate for bringing the concerns of women of groups into the process of policy change.


Technologies to control water table
by N.K. Narda

THE enhanced irrigation water requirement of intensive agriculture has resulted in over-exploitation of ground water resources leading to decline in the water table in many states of the country, especially Punjab Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Gujarat, where the water table has been declining at an alarming rate almost in all the areas having good quality ground water.

The declining water table in these states has resulted in various problems such as decrease in well yield due to increase in suction lift, need of lowering the existing centrifugal pumps by deepening of pits at an exorbitant cost, increase in total operating head of pumps necessitating replacement of the existing horizontal centrifugal pumps by expensive submersible pumps. All these factors lead to increased cost of pumping. If immediate remedial steps are not taken to arrest the decline in water table, a stage may come when the ground water pumping may not be technically feasible and or economically viable.

The decline of water table can be arrested by reducing the ground water draft and/or by increasing the ground water recharge. The ground water draft can be reduced by rain water conservation in rice fields when water is abundantly available, optimising the period of transplanting of rice coinciding with the minimum evapotranspiration and the maximum rainfall, reducing evaporation, crop diversification and renovation and reuse of waste water.

The ground water recharge can be increased by adopting appropriate technologies for ground water recharge. The water resource available for ground water recharge is mainly the rainfall and to some extent canal water which is surplus during lean period of irrigation requirement. Other possibilities for artificial ground water recharge include watershed management and construction of water harvesting structures, including percolation tanks and low irrigation dams, check structures in choes, recharge shafts, etc. in the Kandi area while techniques like recharge through network of surface drains, irrigation-cum-recharge wells, recharge shafts using rainfall run-off and/or surplus canal water and inundation canals by diverting water from rivers/major streams can be employed in irrigated areas facing the problem of declining water table.

Considerable research work has been carried out by the Deptt. of Soil and Water Engineering, Punjab Agricultural University, to develop appropriate technologies to control the declining water table. Some of the technologies relevant to control of declining water are summarised below.

Watershed management: A large number of soil and water conservation works were constructed by various participating departments during the past two decades in the Kandi area under a World Bank-aided project. A study on the impact of these works on ground water recharge has revealed that the water table which had been falling on an average of 34.83 cm per year during 1979-85 in Hoshiarpur district has resulted in decreased falling rate upto 1996 as a result of soil and water conservation work. After 1996, the falling trend has been reversed, resulting in an average rise of 5.9 cm per year during 1979-98. It was concluded that the upper catchment of falling water table areas should be taken up on priority basis for watershed management, including construction of water conservation/harvesting structures and low/medium capacity irrigation dams.

Rain water conservation in rice fields: Rice is grown in about 2.3 million hectares in Punjab. In-situ conservation of rainfall of rice fields can help in augmenting ground water supplies and thus control declining water table. Optimum dike heights for conserving most of the run-off have been determined under light, medium and heavy soils as 15, 17.5 and 20 cm, respectively. Technology has also been developed to recharge surplus water from diked rice fields if any through recharge pit/shaft/well.

Recharge through surface drainage system: The area presently facing the problem of declining water table in Punjab used to be waterlogged in the fifties. The network of surface drains constructed to control waterlogging at that time can now be used for ground water recharge using rainfall run-off during monsoon. These drains can also be used for ground water recharge using canal water whenever found surplus, as most of the drains cut across the canal irrigation distribution network, allowing for easy diversion of canal water to surface drains. Appropriate technology has been developed for the optimum release of canal water for recharge through surface drains, ensuring zero run-off at the outfall. However, one of the limitations for recharge through surface drains is the filtration of silted run-off water during monsoon. The design of an appropriate filtration technique is being developed.

Renovation of village ponds for irrigation: The village ponds, which once used to be very useful institutions, have now become a nuisance since they have become a source of environmental pollution. A feasibility study carried out by the department has revealed that the renovation of these ponds for providing irrigation is technically feasible (quality of water is fit for irrigation) for economically viable (B C ratio= 2:1). The renovation of these ponds for irrigation is of special importance in the Kandi area and with a declining water table. The renovation of village ponds in declining water table areas may considerably reduce the decline in ground water table by about 6 cm per year.

Recharge through cavity wells: There are about two lakh cavity wells in the state. These wells can be used for recharge of rainfall run-off during monsoon and can be used as recharge-cum-irrigation wells. The recharge through cavity wells also takes care of the drainage problem.

Crop diversification: Rice and wheat rotation in Punjab accounts for almost 60 per cent of the cropped area. The studies carried out have indicated that by replacing five lakh hectare area under rice crop in selected areas with maize, groundnut, Kharif pulses, soyabean and chari bajra fodder, about 77.5 thousand hectare-meter irrigation water can be saved.

Further studies on renovation of sewage water through the soil aquifer treatment system and its reuse as well as development of appropriate technologies for artificial recharge in the Kandi area are in progress.


Factors influencing reproduction in cows
By Soshil Rattan

CATTLE improvement is dependent on normal and regular reproduction of the cows. Irregular reproduction can be attributed to various factors of which malnutrition causing stress may be one of them. Nutrients and certain micro elements are obligatory for normal reproduction. If nutrition is inadequate or not well balanced, the female becomes stressed and reproduction is liable to the impaired. Reproduction abnormalities due to malnutrition are very common. These can conveniently be corrected or avoided by the scientific knowledge of the importance of various nutrients and micro-elements.

Nutritional stress, apart from having deteriorating effect on normal functioning of the body, causes the following reproductive abnormalities.

Delayed puberty or sexual maturity: Underfeeding is detrimental to the onset of puberty at the proper required age and may be responsible for retrogressive changes in the matured sexual organ. Possibly, it may be due to its adverse effect on the pituitary by suppressing the secretion of hormones into the blood stream, Phosphorous deficient ration is blamed for retarding the growth and onset of puberty. It was observed that underfed animals matured late than those fed on high plan of nutrition.

Weak/irregular heat/anoestrus: The duration of heat in female, kept under farm conditions is longer than in those subjected to lower levels of nutrition. The detection of heat i.e. oestrus is of importance in the assessment of the right timing of insemination.

Nutritional stress is held responsible for the poor development of sexual organs. The activity of sex organs is retarded and hormonal balance is disturbed. The poorly developed organs of sex are sluggish in the discharge of their normal functions and as such the female exhibits poor symptoms of oestrous. They are hard to conceive.

Protein-deficient diet may stop the occurrence of oestrous and foetal reabsorption or result in the birth of weak or dead calves.

A fat-free ration may cause irregular ovulation.

The decreased blood phosphorus level induces non-fertile oestrus which is probably due to ovulation defects. The deficiency of phosphorous retards ovarian activity which is due to disturbance of pituitary ovarian axis. Cobalt, iron and phosphorus suppress the secretion of gonadotrophic hormones by the pituitary. The conversion of carotene to vitamin “A” which is essential for normal reproduction is also adversely affected by phosphorus deficiency.

Post-parturition heat: Nutritional stresses may have considerable effect on the interval between parturition and first oestrous, the latter coincides with the complete involution of the uterus. It has been observed that the interval between parturition and first oestrous is as long as 80 days in the range cows where feed is sometimes scarce. This interval in well-fed dairy cattle is on the average 40 days.

Delayed breeding season: The breeding season means the period of the year in which females of a species come into heat. It starts when the mental conditions are befitting the survival of the progeny or after the birth. The cows are continuous breeders but the buffaloes come into heat during July to January. Continuous underfeeding or the rations lacking in vitamin “A” and phosphorus can delay in the onset of the breeding season in some cases.

Predisposition to infection: A ration deficient in vitamin “A” may cause keratinisation of the vaginal epithelium predisposing it to infection.

Disturbance in foetal development: The death of foetus and abortions are common in cows having feed deficient in vitamins “A” and “D”. Imbalance of calcium and phosphorus ratio has been held responsible for high occurrence of foetal death. Copper and cobalt deficiencies are blamed for reduced viability of the offspring. In fact, nutrition of the dam and offspring is intimately co-related and as such nutritional stress in dam is liable to affect the development of the offspring. Denial of adequate green may also lead to vitamin “A” deficiency.

Improvement of reproductive performance is a primary issue facing the dairy owners and veterinarians. The role of high-quality supplement of minerals needs to be emphasised. Dairy farmers should understand that minerals and trace elements have a conspicuous role in avoiding and correcting reproductive failures in milch animals. As such the non-stop inclusion of minerals in daily balanced feed and fodder of dairy animals is indispensable.

Farm operations for June


— To the nursery sown during middle of May, apply the second dose of nitrogen to get the seedlings ready for transplanting.

— Start transplanting varieties PR- 116, PR-114, PR-111, PR-106, PR-108, PR-113, IR-8 and Jaya from June 10 onward and varieties PR-115 and PR-103 from June 20 onward. Varieties PR-115 and PR-103 vacate the fields earlier and facilitate timely sowing of potato, peas or berseem crops.

— Paddy seedlings in the nursery, particularly in light-textured soils become yellow or whitish. To check this, spray 0.5 to 1.0 kg ferrous sulphate dissolved in 100 litres of water. Repeat this treatment 3-4 times at 4 day’s interval.

— At the time of transplanting, apply 37 kg of urea per acre on medium soils. Phosphorus application may be omitted where paddy is to follow wheat receiving the recommended dose of phosphorus. In soil testing low in phosphorus, 75 kg of single superphosphate per acre may also be applied.

— Zinc deficiency is generally noticed in paddy. Therefore, apply 25 kg of zinc sulphate per acre at the time to puddling.

— Dhaincha for green manuring be buried at the time of puddling.

— For the control of weeds, use 1200 ml of any recommended formulations of Butachlor 50 EC or Thiobencarb 50 EC or 500 ml of Anilofos 30 EC/Pretilachlor 50 EC @ 600 ml or Stomp 30 EC @ 1000-1200 ml/acre by mixing with 60 kg of sand. Broadcast any one of the herbicides uniformly in standing water within 2-3 days of transplanting.

— Avoid early planting of rice to keep under check the BLB of rice.

— Stress should be laid on the proper use of fertiliser as excess use of nitrogen may lead to outbreak of the BLB.

— Prefer to grow PT-116, PR-114, PR-111 or PR-113 variety in the BLB-prone areas.

— Basmati-386 and Basmati-370 are photosensitive and mature late, therefore, nursery of these varieties should be sown in the second fortnight of June.


— Start sowing maize from the beginning of the month in the submontane districts or areas which are prone to damage by water stagnation. If there are no weeds and stubbles of the previous crop that maize can be sown without preparatory cultivation. For weed control, use Atrataf 50 WP (Atrazine) or Tafazine/Hexazine 50 WP @ 800g/acre in heavy textured soils and 500g/acre in light soils in 200 litres of water within 2-3 days of sowing. Atrazine/Atrataf at the recommended dose can also be used as post-emergence application up to 10 days after sowing.

— Treat the seed with Bavistin/Agrozim at 3 g/kg seed before sowing.

— Maize can be sown in trenches, this practice saves irrigation water and protect the crop from lodging.

— If maize is to follow wheat which received recommended dose of phosphatic and potassic fertilisers, then apply only 37 kg of urea per acre to hybrid maize and 25 kg of urea per acre to local and Megha varieties. If farmyard manure has been applied at the rate of 6 tonnes per acre, then there is no need to apply the fertiliser at the time of sowing maize crop. Maize responds to organic manures, so farmyard manure or compost may be applied to this crop.

— Maize borer feed on the growing point of plant and form dead hearts. Control this pest by spraying 40 ml Sumicidin 20 EC (Fanvalrate)/Ripcord 10 EC (Cypermethrin) or 80 ml Decis 2.8 EC (Deltamethrin) in 50 litres of water per acre. Spray work should be initiated when the crop is 2-3 weeks old. 

— Progressive Farming, PAU