AGRICULTURE TRIBUNE Monday, December 4, 2000, Chandigarh, India

Environment protection through cultivated grasses in J&K
Guidelines and lessons for other states
By Rajesh K. Rana and P. Kaushal
GRAZING in India has always remained a serious problem because it is disproportionate to the area and the biomass available for grazing. 

Agriculture policy and challenges before nation
By Ivninderpal Singh
ndia predominantly is an agricultural nation as around 70 per cent of its population is involved in agriculture.

Farm operations for December 

— For late sown wheat, prefer to sow short duration varieties like PBW-373 and PBW-138.

Self-propelled paddy transplanter
By Roshan Lal and Harpal Singh
ADDY is an important kharif crop of eastern Haryana. The average productivity of rice in Haryana is about 30 quintals per hectare, which can be further increased by adopting scientific production technology.Top



Environment protection through cultivated grasses in J&K
Guidelines and lessons for other states

By Rajesh K. Rana and P. Kaushal

GRAZING in India has always remained a serious problem because it is disproportionate to the area and the biomass available for grazing. The uncontrolled and continuous grazing has adversely affected the regeneration of forests and carrying capacity of grasslands.

The problem of grazing and degradation of pasture lands is more critical and intense in Jammu and Kashmir due to lifestyle of rural people in the state. The state is mainly constituted by the Gujjar and Bakkarwal communities who keep a large number of buffaloes, sheep and goats, respectively. Both communities are migratory in nature and put heavy pressure on the grasslands of the state. According to an estimate based on the 1991 census, on an average, every hectare pasture land of bears a pressure of more than 7.88 migratory animals. This pressure is expected to further increase if the rising trend of animal population and the number of sedentary animals is also taken into consideration.

In addition to the continuous over-grazing and indiscriminate felling of trees, proliferation of poisonous/noxious weeds such as lantana, ageratum, etc has further deteriorated the situation. It was found that the productivity of grass and pasture lands, on an average, has reduced only to 0.8 to 1 tonne of annual biomass per hectare.

With the increasing population and improved economic conditions of the local people, demand for meat, milk and wool is increasing much faster than the increase in the number of animals. For increasing productivity of the existing animals, a need to increase quality along with quantity of fodder in the grasslands was realised. Cultivated grasses have been found to be possessing higher biomass production per unit land, high nutritive value, high palatability and very low wastage by the animals as compared to the conventional grasses. Hence, an agrostology project was thought to be a highly important option for the state.

The National Afforestation and Eco-Development Board, Ministry of Environment and Forests, realised this problem and sanctioned a project entitled “Forage seed production in J&K state”. The project started in 1991-92 and Rs 94 lakh was released by the ministry by the financial year 1995-96. The project has been proved to be a big success and received popularity due to following features.

On an average 24,000 annual man days of employment are generated in the nursery and transplantation operations.

After seed collection, the residents of the surrounding area are allowed to take grass on “cut-and-carry” basis, free of cost.

Besides own requirement of the project, grass seed and grass slips were distributed to various government and non-government agencies inside as well outside the state.

The project was meeting the very necessities of the people, and farmers even in the border areas of Rajouri and Poonch, which are highly infested with militancy, were also coming in un-manageable number with a proposal of extending the scheme on their private lands under SRO-61. SRO-61 is an important notification which includes directive on the joint forest management by the J&K Government, dated March 19, 1992. Gujjars, who contribute the majority of the J&K population, is a community that migrates along with their buffalo herds. Gujjars were highly enthusiastic to adopt cultivated grasses on their grasslands.

With the people’s increasing opportunity cost of time and improving standard of living it is becoming increasing difficult for most of the families to daily spare one person who takes a big herd of unproductive animals for grazing. Now people are shifting towards stall feeding the limited number of economical animals. This is one of the very rare positive externalities of economic development on our natural eco-system. To encourage this phenomenon cultivation of improved grasses on private pasture lands is highly important. On the one hand it will provide more productive nutritious and palatable fodder and on the other a situation in which management of pasture lands becomes economical.

Lessons for other states

The J&K state is comprised of one of the widest range of climate as hot tropics of Kathua district and cold deserts of Ladakh are simultaneously included in this state. Hence, experiences of agrostology wing, the J&K Forest Department can be used over a large number of states in India. The authors, in the evaluation report, have recommended a provision for installation of desk top printing unit in the wing concerned so that research experiences are duly published. However, the following lesions from the J&K state should be taken into consideration while implementing such schemes in other areas.

Most of the land available for grass cultivation lies with the Forest Department. In order to avoid interdisciplinary conflicts, such scheme should be run by the state forest departments. However, an expert agrostologist must be hired from the agriculture department or the state agriculture university.

Supervisory staff should be given training at the Indian Grasslands and Fodder Research Institute, Jhansi.

The operational and material costs are bound to go up every year, hence, there should be a provision for annual escalation of these costs.

Cultivated grasses are more delicate and need more cultural care i.e. good quality soil, watering, manuring, etc. Wild grasses were found to be posing stiff competition to these cultivated grasses and at most of the places nearly complete replacement of improved grasses was observed. Besides, there was no provision for beating up of casualties. It should be ensured that proper measures for aftercare of closures in which cultivated grasses are planted, are adopted.

As soon as over-exploitation stops in a closure, the process of succession starts. With the provision of ground cover by natural and cultivated grasses in the initial few years, bushes start covering the area. Such development may be ecologically desirable but hits the interests of the project. To overcome this problem it is suggested that fodder trees should be mixed with the grass in the process of sowing/transplantations. By the time bushes start replacing grass, the fodder trees are already well established.

Local people have been found deliberately making their cattle and sheep/goats to enter the fenced areas, having improved grasses, because of better grass availability inside the closures. There is no provision of watch and ward under the existing project directions and this should also be taken care of while making project proposals for other areas or fresh proposal for the same project.

Agrostology is a special kind of project where cultural practices are altogether different than forest plantations. There are a very few trained foresters under the present project. Other staff members coming to this project are experimenting on government money in order to get knowledge. But this knowledge goes waste immediately the staff member is transferred to any other wing of the Forest Department. The newcomer has again to resort to the same process of experimentation in order to acquire knowledge. Hence, it should be strictly observed that at least the supervisory staff under such schemes is not transferred at all.

Socio-economic conditions, lifestyle and food habits of people residing in J&K make a collective impact that further encourages an increase in the livestock population of the state. Hence, the centrally sponsored project on “forage seeds production in J&K state” is important and quite pertinent. With the gradually increasing livestock population and a sharply widening gap between demand and supply of fodder in the state, the efforts need to be put on a much larger scale.

A similar problem has started coming to the people of other states. For example, wheat straw prices in February and March, 1991, were more than Rs 200 per ql almost in all places of Himachal Pradesh. It was observed that this price was more than half the support price of wheat grains for that year. Pasture lands have found to be degraded invariably in all parts of the country. Very soon such agrostology projects will be the inevitable need of every part of country. A thorough consideration of above guidelines is sure to successfully implement agrostology schemes without wasting precious governmental resources in experimentation.


Agriculture policy and challenges before nation
By Ivninderpal Singh

India predominantly is an agricultural nation as around 70 per cent of its population is involved in agriculture. Though for the development of the industry the first industrial policy was formulated just four years after Independence in 1951, we were unable to have a policy for agriculture even after five decades. But at last on July 28, 2000, the government announced the national agriculture policy (NAP) which remained under discussion for almost a decade. It focuses on the efficient use of resources and technology and increased private investment while emphasising on price protection to farmers in the WTO regime.

The NAP targets a 4 per cent growth rate per annum in the next two decades in the farm sector, based on the efficient use of resources that is sustainable technologically, environmentally and economically. The policy also envisages evolving a national livestock breeding strategy to meet the requirements of milk, meat, egg and other livestock products and to enhance the role of draught animals as a source of energy for farming operations and transport.

Private sector participation would be promoted through contract farming and land leasing arrangements to allow accelerated technology transfer, capital inflow and assured markets for crop production, especially of oilseeds, cotton and horticultural crops, the policy document says.

Not only the development in agriculture but other agro-related fields like animal husbandry, poultry, dairy and aquaculture have also been discussed in the policy paper as their development was essential for the diversification of agriculture, increased availability of animal protein in food basket and generating exportable surpluses.

The document says that plant varieties would be protected through legislation to encourage research and breeding of new varieties, particularly in the private sector, in line with India's obligations under the Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (Trips) agreement. The farmers would, however, be allowed to save, use, exchange, share and sell their farm-saved seeds, except branded seeds of protected varieties for commercial purposes.

Moreover, high priority would be accorded to evolve new location-specific and economically viable improved varieties of agricultural and horticultural crops, livestock species and aquaculture as also conservation and judicious use of germ plasm and other biodiversity resources.

In view of dismantling of quantitative restrictions (QRs) on imports as per the WTO agreement on agriculture, the policy has recommended the formulation of commodity-wise strategies and arrangements to protect farmers from adverse impact of undue price fluctuations in the world market and to promote exports.

Regarding the infrastructure development which helps in boosting the agricultural growth has also been discussed. Rural electrification would be given high priority as a prime mover for agriculture development. Progressive institutionalisation of rural and farm credit would be continued for providing timely and adequate credit to farmers. Moreover, endeavour would be made to provide a package insurance policy to the farmers right from sowing of the crops to post-harvest operations, including market fluctuations in the prices of agricultural produce.

According to the Union Agriculture Ministry, the policy seeks to actualise the vast untapped growth potential of the country's agriculture, strengthen rural infrastructure to support faster agricultural development, accelerate the growth of agro-business, create employment in rural areas, secure a fair standard of living for the farmers and agricultural workers and their families, discourage migration to urban areas and face the challenges arising out of economic liberalisation and globalisation.

But is it possible to achieve all these aims without appropriate resources, especially financial and human resources, in the context of the known endemic weaknesses of India's agriculture such as rainfed farming, low levels of input usage and fragmented land holdings? The most critical input for agriculture, water resources, need to be managed scientifically.

Along with these aims, today we also need the region-specific planning. A larger share of growth in the agricultural sector can come from rainfed regions and this has created regional disparities in agricultural productivity and the gulf between the developed and underdeveloped regions has widened.

Moreover, the planning process in the 21st century should take full advantage of the reach and enormous potential of information technology for rapid information dissemination in the rural areas.

Of all the achievements recorded in our post-Independence economic history, the one in which we can take the most pride is the elimination of the scourge on famine from the face of our country. But still to overcome is the problem of poverty and this is possible only targeting the agricultural sector holistically by overcoming all the challenges and availing all opportunities for its development. 


Farm operations for December 


— For late sown wheat, prefer to sow short duration varieties like PBW-373 and PBW-138.

— For the control of loose smut of wheat, treat the seed with Bavistin/Agorzim/Derosal/Benor/J.K. Stein/Sten 50/Provax @ 2.5 g/kg or Raxil @ 1 g/kg seed or with Vitavax @ 2 g/kg seed.

— For the control of root rot, foot rot, seeding blight, black tip and black spot of glumes, treat the seed with Captan or Thiram @ 3 g/kg seed. Captan and Thiram treatment, should not be done earlier than one month of sowing as it affects seed germination.

— For the control of earcockle diesease put wheat seed in ordinary water and agitate vigorously for a few mintues. Earcockle galls will float to the surface. These may be skimmed off with an ordinary sieve and burnt.

Phararis, minor and wild oats can also be controlled by spraying Isoproturon herbicide 2 to 4 days before first irrigation. On heavy textured soil, use Isoproturon 75 WP @ 500 g/acre. In case of medium textured soils, Isoproturon 75 WP can be used @ 400 g/acre. In case of light textured soils, the dose can be reduced to 300 g/acre of Isoproturon 75 WP.

For the control of phalaris minor, in addition to the recommended herbicides, Metoxuron 80 WP @ 70 g/acre (commercial), Illoxan 28 EC @ 125. l/acre or Graps 10 EC (Tralkoxydim) @ 1.4 l/acre can also be applied 30-40 days after sowing i.e. after the first irrigation when the field permits walking. For control of mixed infestation of phalaris minor and certain hardy broadleaf weeds. 2,4-D @ 250 g/acre can be tank mixed with Isoproturon.

Wild oats, another serious problem of wheat, can also be controlled with the spray of Illoxan 28 EC @ 1.25 L/acre of Grasp 10 EC @ 1.4 L/acre of Metoxuron 80 WP @ 450 g/acre (commercial) in 200 litres of water after the first irrigation. Illoxan 28 EC and Grasp 10 EC can also be used in barely for control of weeds like Phalaris and wild oats.

For the control of Isoproturon-resistant biotype of phalaris in the rice-wheat cropping system, use Topik 15 WP (Clodinafop) @ 160 g/acre or Pumasuper 10 EC (Fenoxapropethyl) @ 400 ml/acre or leader 75 WG (Sulfosulfuron) @ 13 g/acre. Spray either of the herbicide in 100-120 litres of water after 30-35 days of sowing wheat by using flat fan nozzle.

For the control of broadleaf weeds only, use 2, 4-D @ 250 g/acre are 35-40 days after sowing in case of normal sown (October-November sown) and 45-55 days after sowing for late sown wheat (December sown). Apply 20 WP (Metsulfuron) @ 10 g/acre can also be used for control of kandia wali palak and other hardy weeds and its time of application is 30-40 days after sowing.

Wheat crop requiring first irrigation should be irrigated after four weeks of sowing. On light textured soils of kallar soils, the first irrigation should be advanced by one week. Apply second dose of 55 kg of urea per acre to wheat before the first irrigation.

If the wheat is to follow potato only 27 kg of urea/acre may be drilled at the time of sowing.

After the first irrigation, zinc deficiency is expected in light textured soils and also in kallar reclaimed soils. Zinc deficiency symptoms appear on the third and fourth leaves from the top and leaves become yellow in the middle, leaving the tip and bottom portion green. To correct zinc deficiency broadcast 25 kg of zinc sulphate by mixing with the same quality of dry soil in an acre.

In the light textured soils, where wheat follows paddy, manganese deficiency appears. The interveinal portion of the middle leaves become yellow and veins remain green, forming strips. If such deficiency symptoms are noticed, 0.5% manganese sulphate solution may be sprayed. Two sprays at weekly interval are sufficient.

In sulphur deficiency, upper leaves become light green and then yellow while the lower leaves are still green. If such symptoms are noticed, one quintal gypsum/acre may be broadcast in the field and a light irrigation may be given or if the soil is in proper moisture conditions, this may be mixed by hoeing.

In case wheat is yet to be sown, drill 40 kg urea and 155 kg superphosphate per acre at the time of sowing. Twenty kg muriate of potash may be applied if the soil test is low in available potash.

— Progressive Farming, PAU


Self-propelled paddy transplanter
By Roshan Lal and Harpal Singh

PADDY is an important kharif crop of eastern Haryana. The average productivity of rice in Haryana is about 30 quintals per hectare, which can be further increased by adopting scientific production technology. Among the agronomic practices the maintenance of optimum plant population (35 to 40 plants m-2) has a great role in increasing the rice productivity. In general, farmers transplant about 18 to 20 hills m-2 that too having almost single plant per hill. Paddy transplanter can play a vital role in increasing the number of hills per unit area and the number of plants per hill by which an increase of at least about 10 to 15 per cent may be expected in paddy productivity, in addition to the saving of time and labour.

The self-propelled machine is run by a 2.4 kilowatt diesel engine whose fuel consumption is about 800-ml diesel per hour. The price of the machine is about Rs 80,000. The machine has eight slanting trays towards its back in which mat nursery is placed. For transplanting there are eight fingers which automatically pick the seedlings from the trays and transplant in the field. In this way a plant-to-plant spacing of 24 cm can be maintained, thus getting about 34 to 42 hills m-2. The number of plants per hill can also be planted as per our requirement by changes in the finger gaps. The seedlings may be transplanted at the desired depth. This machine is able to transplant about 3 to 4 acres per day (8 hours) at the working efficiency of 1/3 to 1/2 acre per hour. The important feature of the machine is that the survival rate of the transplanted seedlings is up to 95 to 100 per cent. There can be a saving of about 60 per cent in labour cost.

The nursery required for this transplanter has to be grown on perforated polyethene sheets by following specific methods. A layer of soil, sand and FYM mixture (7:2:1) with about 1 cm thickness is spread evently on the polyethene sheet. Then the germinated paddy seed is broadcast uniformly which is again covered by a thin layer (about 1 cm) of the above soil mixture.