Zero tillage technology for wheat in rice-wheat cropping system

Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is the major cereal crop grown in world. World wheat production is 695 million tons (FAO, 2011). In Pakistan it contributes 9.1 % to the value added products in agriculture and 1.7 % to gross domestic production. Currently, the area under wheat is 8.73 million hectares and total production is 25.4 million tons with an average yield of 2.9 metric ton ha-1 (Govt. of Pakistan, 2017-18). Despite a higher yield potential, average grain yield of wheat in Pakistan is well below than in most of the wheat producing countries of the world.

Dr.Muhammad Rafi Qamar

(Department of Agronomy, UOS)

In Pakistan, wheat occupies a central position in regulating agricultural policies and dominates all agronomic crops in the form of total acreage and yield. Wheat is generally grown after rice and cotton in rice-wheat and cotton-wheat cropping system. Rice-wheat cropping system plays an important role not only in Pakistan but also in world food security. In Indian-subcontinent, the area under rice-wheat cropping system is 13.5 million hectares.

 In Pakistan, rice is grown in Kharif season under puddle condition while irrigated spring wheat in Rabi season. The total area is about 2.4 million hectares under rice out of which 50% comprised of fine and long quality speciality rice varieties (Basmati). Fine and long quality rice varieties are late maturing which often delay and / or affect spring wheat planting. However, farmers prefer to grow spring wheat due to its high gross margins. Rice is generally harvested mechanically by combine harvester, which leaves rice stubbles in the field. To overcome the problem of rice stubbles most of the farmers burn the residues because rice stubbles incorporation required several tillage operations, which also delays wheat planting. Irregular tillage operations especially conventional tillage during the seedbed preparation and at late maturing stage of basmati rice delayed the wheat planting.

Conventional management practices including frequent plowing, chemical fertilization, and pesticide application increases crop yields but exerts negative effects on soil productivity and farm economics. Plowing improves soil tilth for crop growth and yield, alleviates soil compaction and nutrient stratification, and suppresses weeds and soil-borne diseases. However, frequent plowing fragments and mixes crop residues, increases soil aeration and temperature, disperses soil structure, accelerates decomposition of crop residues and native soil organic matter (SOM), and causes an increase in CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. Moreover, plowing led to the formation of hardpan at the plow depths, decreases water infiltration with accelerated soil erosion.

            In a rice-wheat cropping system, rice is mostly grown under puddling which leads to the destruction of wet soil aggregates by plowing, sealing of pore spaces, and formation of a subsurface hardpan. This subsoil compaction reduced both the water and nutrient-use efficiencies of subsequent wheat crop owing to decreased root growth. Wheat yield reduction and degradation of soil physical properties depend on the intensity and duration of puddling operations.

Deep tillage of puddle soil reduces the compaction, increases rooting depth, and improves the yield of the following wheat crop. Deep tillage not only alleviates soil compaction but also control weeds through deep burial of weed seeds. In areas where continuous cropping is practiced, deep tillage increases the surface area of soil exposed to sunlight to control certain diseases, insects and weeds. Two passes of subsoiling were more effective than subsoiling with one-pass for not only overcoming the soil compaction but also improving the soil tilth. The soil moisture at 50 to 100 cm depth under deep tillage was more, while the water consumption reduced in the 0 to 50 cm depth. However, deep tillage is costly in terms of fuel and time.

         Wheat yield can be increased by managing resources through conservation management practices. The most important technology is the conservation tillage that has made to overcome soil erosion, maximize vegetative cover on the land, increase soil organic matter, improve carbon, energy and water footprints, and sustain farm economics is zero tillage. Zero-tillage is well known as zero-till, no-till, direct seeding and direct drilling. No-till techniques have been successfully applied on more than 111 million hectare worldwide. Continuous use of reduced or no-till practices substantially improves the net profitability of crop production. The yield of zero-till wheat is equal to or even higher than the yields produced by conventional tillage. However, no-till wheat yields are often affected by weeds pressures and poor crop stand due to soil compaction, anoxic conditions, and immobilization of nitrogen.

No till conversion of plowing is one of the strategies to decrease farming costs, reduce soil erosion, and improve ecosystem services. With NT, surface accumulation of crop residues as mulch influences air, water, and energy exchange between the soil ecosystem and the atmosphere. These processes reduce soil temperature and evaporation during summer months, retain soil moisture longer-especially under dry conditions, and thereby improve crop productivity. Long-term continuous NT has been reported to produce wheat yields equal to or even higher than that of plowed fields.

In rice-wheat cropping systems, rice is harvested by combines, which leave large amount of crop residues in the fields. However, the newly introduced Happy Seeder (HS) cuts and manages the standing stubble and loose straw in front of the furrow openers, retaining it as surface mulch and sows wheat in a single operational pass of the field. Moreover, operational costs for sowing wheat are 50 to 60 % lower with HS than with conventional sowing. The HS technology provides an alternative to burning for managing rice residues and allows direct drilling of wheat in standing and loose residues. However, most constraints in transitional NT or HS are high weed pressure, poor crop stands, soil compaction and stratification of nutrients, and N immobilization. The problem of N immobilization is more acute in alternate year rice-wheat production systems due to high C:N crop residues.

Sustainable crop production depends on the efficient use of N fertilizers. In wheat production, N plays an important role in crop growth and yield. Most of the wheat varieties grown in Pakistan require substantial quantities of N because soil organic matter content is very low. High price and excessive use of N fertilizers as an insurance against crop failures have caused widespread environmental and public health problems that emphasized the need for efficient use of the N fertilizers. There are needs to evaluate the potential effects of surface residues on N transformations and crop development. Tillage operations influence the soil N dynamics because the crop residues which are incorporated in the soil by plowing decompose faster than the residues which remain on the surface under NT and HS. In NT, N release from the crop residues is slow due to partial anaerobesis and/or due to N immobilization. than in tilled systems. However, when applied in excess of crop requirements NT system has a greater loss of N fertilizer by leaching and volatilization than in CT. Current recommendations of N fertilization developed for continuously plowed systems which may not be adequate for optimum production of wheat under NT because extra nitrogen is required for residues decomposition. Therefore, the information on the effects of tillage and N fertilization on wheat production in post-harvest puddle rice fields in presence of stubbles is critical to evaluate the sustainability of the rice-wheat production systems.

Tillage operation requirement for field crops

TILLAGE OPERATION FOR FIELD CROPS

RICE (Oryza sativa L.)

Transplanted Puddled Lowland Rice
Wet nursery

Forming Seedbeds

  • Mark plots of 2.5m breadth with channels 30cm wide all around the seedbeds.
  • Length of the seed bed may vary from 8 to 10m according to soil and slope of the land.
  • Collect the puddled soil from the channel and spread on the seedbeds or drag a heavy stone along the channel to lower it, so that the seed bed is at a higher level.
  • Level the surface of the seedbed, so that the water drains into the channel.

Dry nursery

  • Dry ploughed field with fine tilth is required.
  • Nursery area with sand and loamy soil status is more suitable for this type of nursery.
  • Area 20cents.
  • Plots of 1 to 1.5 m width of beds and channels may be formed. Length may be according to the slope and soil. Raised beds are more ideal if the soil is clayey in nature.

Main Field Management 
Land preparation

  • Plough the land during summer to economize the water requirement for initial preparation of land.
  • Flood the field 1 or 2days before ploughing and allow water to soak in. Keep the surface of the field covered with water.
  • Keep water to a depth of 2.5cm at the time of puddling.
  • Special technologies for problem soils:
  • For fluffy paddy soils: compact the soil by passing 400kg stone roller or oil-drum with stones inside, eight times at proper moisture level (moisture level at friable condition of soil which is approximately 13 to18%) once in three years, to prevent the sinking of draught animals and workers during puddling.
  • For sodic soils with pH values of more than 8.5, plough at optimum moisture regime, apply gypsum at 50% gypsum requirement uniformly, impound water, provide drainage for leaching out soluble salts and apply green leaf manure at 5 t/ha, 10 to 15 days before transplanting. Mix 37.5 kg of zinc sulphate per ha with sand to make a total quantity of 75 kg and spread the mixture uniformly on the leveled field. Do not incorporate the mixture in the soil. Rice under sodic soil responds well to these practices.
  • For saline soils with EC values of more than 4 dS/m, provide lateral and main drainage channels (60cm deep and 45cm wide), apply green leaf manure at 5 t/ha at 10 to 15 days before transplanting and 25% extra dose of nitrogen in addition to recommended P and K and ZnSO 4 at 37.5 kg/ha at planting.
  • For acid soils apply lime based on the soil analysis for obtaining normal rice yields. Lime is applied 2.5 t/ha before last ploughing. Apply lime at this rate to each crop up to the 5th crop.

Tillage operation requirement for field cropsKeep water to a depth of 2.5cm at the time of puddling

SYSTEM OF RICE INTENSIFICATION (SRI) 
Mat nursery preparation

  • Preparation of nursery area:  Prepare 100 m2 nurseries to plant 1 ha.  Select a level area near the water source. Spread a plastic sheet or used polythene gunny bags on the shallow raised bed to prevent roots growing deep into soil.

Main field preparation

  • Puddled lowland prepared as described in transplanted section
  • Perfect leveling is a pre-requisite for the water management proposed hereunder

WET SEEDED PUDDLED LOWLAND RICE

Wet Seeded Rice

  • On receipt of showers during the months of May – July repeated ploughing should be carried out so as to conserve the moisture, destroy the weeds and break the clods.
  • After inundation puddling is to be done as per transplanting. More care should be taken to level the field to zero level.
  • Stagnation of water in patches during germination and early establishment of the crop leads to uneven crop stand.
  • Land leveling has say over efficient weed and water management practices.
  • Provision of shallow trenches (15cm width) at an interval of 3m all along the field will facilitate the draining of excess water at the early growth stage.

Tillage operation requirement for field cropsLand levelling

DRY SEEDED RAINFED UN-PUDDLED LOWLAND RICE

  • Dry plough to get fine tilth taking advantage of rains and soil moisture availability.
  • Apply gypsum at 1 t/ha basally wherever soil crusting and soil hardening problem exist.
  • Perfect land leveling for efficient weed and water management.
  • Provide shallow trenches (15 cm width) at an interval of 3m all along the field to facilitate draining excess water at the early growth stage.

 DRY SEEDED RAINFED UN-PUDDLED LOWLAND RICE WITH 
SUPPLEMENTAL IRRIGATION

    • Dry plough to get fine tilth taking advantage of rains and soil moisture availability.
    • Apply gypsum at 1 t/ha basally wherever soil crusting and soil hardening problem exist.
    • Perfect land leveling for efficient weed and water management.
    • Provide shallow trenches (15 cm width) at an interval of 3m all along the field to facilitate draining excess water at the early growth stage.
  • Pre-monsoon sowing is advocated for uniform germination.

 DRY SEEDED IRRIGATED UN-PUDDLED LOWLAND RICE

  • Dry plough to get fine tilth taking advantage of rains and soil moisture availability.
  • Apply gypsum at 1 t/ha basally wherever soil crusting and soil hardening problem exist.
  • Perfect land leveling for efficient weed and water management.
  • Provide shallow trenches (15 cm width) at an interval of 3m all along the field to facilitate draining excess water at the early growth stage.

 MILLETS 
SORGHUM (Sorghum bicolor)

Nursery Preparation 
For raising seedlings to plant one hectare, select 7.5 cents (300 m2) near a water source where water will not stagnate.

Laying The Nursery 
i.    Provide three separate units of size 2 m x 1.5 m with 30 cm space in between the plots and all around the unit for irrigation.
ii.   Excavate the soil from the inter-space and all around to a depth of 15 cm to form channels and spread the soil removed on the bed and level.

Main Field Preparation for Irrigated Crop

Ploughing 
Plough the field with an iron plough once (or) twice. Sorghum does not require fine tilth since it adversely affects germination and yield in the case of direct sown crop.

To overcome the subsoil hard pan in Alfisols (deep red soils) chiselling the field at 0.5 m intervals to a depth of 40 cm on both the directions of the field followed by disc ploughing once and cultivator ploughing twice help to increase the yield of sorghum and the succeeding blackgram also. This was true with Sorghum followed by Groundnut also.

Application of FYM and 100% of recommended N can also be followed. In soils with sub-soil hard pan, chiselling should be done every year at the start of the cropping sequence to create a favourable physical environment.

Formation of Ridges and Furrows 
i.    Form ridges and furrows using a ridger at 6 m long and 45 cm apart
ii.   Form irrigation channels across the furrows
iii.   Alternatively, form beds of size 10 m2 and 20 m2 depending on the availability of water.

Tillage operation requirement for field cropsRATOON SORGHUM CROP

RAINFED SORGHUM
Field Preparation 
Test the soil and apply fertilizers based on soil test recommendations.

  • Field has to be prepared well in advance taking advantage of early showers.  FYM application should be done @ 12.5 t / ha and well incorporated at the time of ploughing.
  • Chiseling for soils with hard pan Chisel the soils having hard pan formation at shallow depths with chisel plough at 0.5 M interval, first in one direction and then in the direction perpendicular to the previous one once in three years. Apply 12.5 t FYM or composted Coir pith/ha besides chiseling to get an additional yield of about 30% over control.
  • To conserve the soil moisture sow the seeds in flat beds and form furrows between crop rows during inter cultivation or during third week after sowing.

CUMBU (Pennisetum glaucum (L) R. Br. )

Preparation of Land

  • For raising seedlings to plant one ha select 7.5 cents near a water source. Water should not stagnate.
  • Plough the land and bring it to the fine tilth.

 PREPARATION OF MAIN FIELD

Field Preparation

  • Plough with an iron plough twice and with country plough twice. Bring the soil into fine tilth.
  • CHISELING FOR SOILS WITH HARD PAN:  Chisel the soils having hard pan formation at shallow depths with chisel plough at 0.5m interval, first in one direction then in the direction perpendicular to the previous one, once in three years.

Forming Ridges and Furrows/Beds

  • Form ridges and furrows (using 3 ridges) 6 m long and 45 cm apart. If pulses is intercropped, form ridges and furrows 6 m long and 30 cm apart.
  • If ridge planting is not followed, form beds of the size 10 m2 or 30 m2 depending upon water availability.
  • Form irrigation channels.
  • To conserve soil moisture under rainfed condition, sow the seeds in flat and form furrows between crop rows during intercultivation on third week after sowing.

Tillage operation requirement for field cropsRAGI (Eleusine coracana)

IRRIGATED

Preparation of Nursery (Irrigated Transplanted Crop)

Preparation of Land

  • For raising seedlings to plant one ha of main field, select 12.5 cents (500 m2) of nursery area near a water source, where water does not stagnate.
  • Mix 37.5 kg of super phosphate with 500 kg of FYM or compost and spread the mixture evenly on the nursery area.
  • Plough two or three times with a mould board plough or five times with a country plough.

Forming Raised Bed

  • Mark units of 6 plots each of size 3 m x 1.5 m. Provide 30 cm space between plots for irrigation.
  • Excavate the soil from the interspace and all around to a depth of 15 cm to form channels and spread the soil removed from the channels on the bed and level.

Preparation of Main Field

Ploughing the Field

Plough twice with mould board plough or thrice with wooden plough till a good tilth is obtained.

Forming Beds and Channels

  • Form beds of size 10 m2 to 20 m2 according to topography of the field.
  • Provide suitable irrigation channels.

RAGI : RAINFED

Tillage
            Fall ploughing is advantageous for moisture conservation. In the month of April or May, one deep ploughing with mould board plough followed by ploughing with wooden plough twice is necessary. Before sowing secondary tillage with cultivator and multiple tooth hoe to prepare smooth seed bed is necessary.

MAIZE (Zea mays L.)

IRRIGATED MAIZE

Field Preparation

Plough the field with disc plough once followed by cultivator ploughing twice, after spreading FYM or compost till a fine tilth is obtained.

Forming Ridges and Furrows or Beds

  • Form ridges and furrows providing sufficient irrigation channels. The ridges should be       6 m long and 60 cm apart.
  • If ridges and furrows are not made, form beds of size 10 m2 or 20 m2 depending on the availability of water.
  • Use a bund former or ridge plough to economise cost of production.

Tillage operation requirement for field cropsRAINFED MAIZE

Field Preparation

Chisel the soil having hard pan formation at shallow depths with chisel plough at 0.5 M interval first in one direction and then in the direction perpendicular to the previous one once in three years. Apply 12.5 t/ha of FYM or compost or composted coir pith besides chiselling, to get an additional yield of about 30% over control.
 
SMALL MILLETS

Tenai

Field preparation

:

Plough the field thoroughly using a small iron
plough or country plough to fine tilth.

Samai

Field preparation

:

Plough the field thoroughly 2 or 3 times using a small iron plough or country plough to fine tilth.

Varagu

Field preparation

:

Plough the field thoroughly using a small iron plough or country plough to fine tilth.

 WHEAT (Triticum aestivum.)

Field Preparation

Plough twice with an iron plough and two to three times with cultivator and prepare the land to a fine tilth.

Forming Beds and Channel

Form beds of size 10 m2 or 20 m2. The irrigation channels are to be provided sufficiently. 

PULSES

REDGRAM ( Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp. )

Management of Field Operation

Preparation of the Land

Prepare the land to fine tilth and apply 12.5 t FYM/ha or composted coir pith at the time of last ploughing and form ridges and furrows

BLACKGRAM ( Vigna mungo L.)

 

Prepare the land to fine tilth and form beds and channels.

 GREENGRAM ( Vigna radiata L. )     

  • Prepare the land to get fine tilth and form beds and channels.
  • Amendments for soil surface crusting: To tide over the soil surface crusting apply lime at the rate of 2 t/ha along with FYM at 12.5 t/ha or composted coir pith at 12.5 t/ha to get an additional yield of about 15 – 20%.

COWPEA ( Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.aggreg.)

Prepare the land to fine tilth and form beds and channels.

HORSEGRAM ( Macrotyloma uniflorum )

Prepare the land to a fine tilth.

BENGALGRAM ( Cicer arietinum L.)

Prepare the land to fine tilth and apply  12.5 t FYM/ha

GARDEN LAB LAB (AVARAI) 
(Lab lab purpureus (L.)  var. typicus. )

      Prepare the land to fine tilth. Form beds and channels for bushy types.

FIELD LAB-LAB (MOCHAI)
Lab lab purpureus (L.)  var. lignosus )

Management of Field Operations

     Prepare the land to fine tilth.

SOYBEAN ( Glycine max (L.) Merr.)

Management of Field Operations

     Prepare the land to get fine tilth and form beds and channels.

RAINFED SOYABEAN

If herbicide spray is not given, two hand weeding on 20 and 35th day after sowing.

SWORD BEAN ( Canavalia gladiata L.)

OILSEEDS

GROUNDNUT (Arachis hypogaea )

 I. Rainfed 
Field Preparation

  • Plough with tractor using a disc followed by harrow, once or twice with iron plough or
    3 – 4 times with country plough till all the clods are broken and a fine tilth is obtained.
  • Chiselling for soils with hard pan: Chisel the soils having hard pan formation at shallow depth with chisel plough first at 0.5 m interval in one direction and then in the direction perpendicular to the previous one, once in three years. Apply 12.5 t/ha of FYM or composted coir pith besides chiselling.
  • Amendments for soil surface crusting:  a) To tide over the surface crusting, apply lime @ 2 t/ha along with FYM or composted coir pith @ 12.5 t/ha. b) Coir pith at 12.5 t/ha  converted to compost by inoculating with Pleurotus and applied serves as a good source of nutrients.

Forming Beds

  • Form beds of size 10 m2 to 20 m2 depending upon the slope of the land and type of soil.
  •  Wherever tractor is engaged, bed former may be used.

Earthing Up

Accomplish earthing up during second hand weeding/late hand weeding (in herbicide application).
NOTE:

  • Earthing up provides medium for the peg development
  • Use the improved hoe with long handle which can be worked more efficiently in a standing position.
  • Do not disturb the soil after 45th day of sowing as it will affect pod formation adversely.

Irrigated 
Field Preparation

  • Plough with tractor using a disc followed by harrow, once or twice with iron plough or
    3 – 4 times with country plough till all the clods are broken and a fine tilth is obtained.
  • Chiselling for soils with hard pan: Chisel the soils having hard pan formation at shallow depth with chisel plough first at 0.5 m interval in one direction and then in the direction perpendicular to the previous one, once in three years. Apply 12.5 t/ha FYM or composted coir pith besides chiselling.
  • Amendments for soil surface crusting:  a) To tide over the surface crusting, apply lime @ 2 t/ha along with FYM or composted coir pith @ 12.5 t/ha. b) When coir pith at 12.5 t/ha is converted into compost by inoculating with Pleurotus and applied, it serves as a good source of nutrient.

Forming Beds

  • Form beds of size 10 m2 to 20 m2 depending upon the availability of water, slope of the land and type of soil.
  •  Wherever tractor is engaged, bed former may be used.

Earthing up:

Accomplish earthing up during second hand weeding/late hand weeding (in herbicide application).

NOTE: i) Earthing up provides medium for the peg development.  ii) Use the improved hoe with long handle which can be worked more efficiently in a standing position. iii) Do not disturb the soil after the 45th day of sowing as it will affect pod formation adversely.

SESAME (Sesamum indicum)

Field Preparation

  • Plough the field with tractor twice or with mould board plough thrice or five times with a country plough.
  • Break the clods in between ploughings and bring the soil to a fine tilth to facilitate quick germination as the seeds are small.
  • Chiselling for soils with hard pan: Chisel the soils having hard pan formation at shallow depth with chisel plough first at 0.5 m interval in one direction and then in the direction perpendicular to the previous one once in three years. Apply 12.5t FYM/composted coir pith besides chiselling.
  • For irrigated gingelly, form beds of size 10 m2 or 20 m2 depending upon the availability, inflow of water and slope of the land. Level the beds perfectly without any depressions to prevent water stagnation, which will affect the germination adversely.
  • In rice fallows, field is ploughed once with optimum moisture, seeds are sown immediately and covered with one more ploughing.

CASTOR (Ricinus communis)

Preparation of the Field 

Plough two-three times with country or mould board plough.

SAFFLOWER (Carthamus tinctorius)

Preparation of the Field
Field Preparation

  • Plough with tractor 2-3 times with a mould board plough or 5 times with a country plough.
  • Break the clods in between the ploughings and bring the soil to a fine tilth.

SUNFLOWER ( Helianthus annuus )

Field Preparation

Plough once with tractor or twice with iron-plough or three to four times with country-plough till all the clods are broken and a fine tilth is obtained.

Forming Ridges and Furrows

  • Form ridges and furrows 6 m long.
  • Use bund-former or ridge plough to economise and
  • Form irrigation channels across and ridges according to the topography of the field.

OILPALM

NIGER (Guizotia abyssinica)

Preparation of the Field

Field Preparation

  • Plough with tractor 2-3 times with a mould board plough or 5 times with a country plough.
  • Break the clods in between the ploughings and bring the soil to a fine tilth.

COTTON

Preparation of Field for Irrigated Cotton Crop

Preparation of The Field

  • Prepare the field to get a fine tilth.
  • Chiselling for soils with hard pan: Chisel the soils having hard pan formation at shallow depths with chisel plough at 0.5 M interval, first in one direction and then in the direction perpendicular to the previous one, once in three years. Apply 12.5 t farm yard manure or composted coir pith/ha besides chiselling to get increased yield
  • If intercropping of Greengram/Soyabean is proposed, prepare the main field, so as to provide ridges and furrows to take up sowing 20 days prior to cotton sowing.

Formation of Ridges and Furrows

  • Form ridges and furrows 10 m long with appropriate spacing depending upon the variety.
  • Use ridge plough or bund former to form ridges so as to economise on cost of cultivation.
  • In fields with ragi stubbles, just dibble cotton seeds at the specified spacings.
  • Adopt the following spacing between ridges for different varieties/hybrids.

Rectification of Ridges and Furrows

Reform the ridges and furrows after first top dressing in such a way that the plants are on the top of the ridges and well supported by soil.

RICE FALLOW COTTON

Preparation of the Field

  • If the soil is in waxy condition, instead of Zero tillage, the seed rows may be tilled and the seed dibbled in Virudhunagar district.
  • If the soil is dry and not in condition to take up sowing, let in water and then allow the soil to dry till soil comes to waxy condition.
  • At the lower level of the field dig a trench 15 cm wide and connect this trench to the outside channel to drain off the excess water.

Formation of Ridges

Old delta

  • If soil is in condition, give a hoeing with mammutti and form ridges and incorporate the fertilizer in the soil around the plants between 30th to 35th day of sowing.
  • If soil is not in condition, give one hoeing and weeding and cover the fertilizers.
  • Form long ridges and furrows from one end of the field to the other without forming any separate channels for carrying water to prevent excessive soaking of water.
  • Form ridges and furrows on alternate rows of plants. Skip furrow method of irrigation to prevent excessive irrigation

New delta

  • Give a hoeing with mummutti and form ridges and incorporate the fertiliser in the soil around the plants on the 40th day of sowing.
  • If soil is not in condition give one hoeing and weeding and cover the fertilizers.
  • Form long ridges & furrows on alternate rows of plants to adopt skip furrow  irrigation.

Note: In case of zinc deficient soils, apply  50 kg ZnSo4 /ha 

RAINFED COTTON

Preparation of The Field

  • Start preparation of the land immediately after harvest of the previous crop.

Adopt permanent broad ridges system.

JUTE ( Corchorus olitorius & Corchorus capsularis )

Land Preparation: Fine tilth is required since the seeds are very small.

AGAVE – CULTIVATION


Main field planting: Pits of size 30 cm3  should be dug at spacing of  2 x 2 m.


SUGARCANE (Saccharum officinarum )

Preparation of the Field

a) Wetland (Heavy soils): In wetlands, preparatory cultivation by ploughing the land and bringing the soil to fine tilth could not be done.

  • After harvest of the paddy crop, form irrigation and drainage channels of 40 cm depth and 30 cm width at intervals of 6 m across the field and along the field borders.
  • Form ridges and furrows with a spacing of 80 cm between rows with spade.
  • Stir the furrows with hand hoes and allow the soil to weather for 4 to 5 days.

b) Problem soils with excessive soil moisture: 

In problem soils, with excessive moisture where it is difficult to drain water, form raised beds at 30 cm intervals with Length – 5 m, Width – 80 cm, and Height -15 cm.

  • Garden lands with medium and light soils:

 In medium and light soil irrigated by flow or lift irrigation adopt the following:

  • Plough deep with tractor drawn disc plough or victory plough. Use junior hoe to break the clods and get a fine tilth free of weeds and stubbles.
  • Level the field for proper irrigation.
  • Open ridges and furrows at 80 cm apart with the help of victory plough or tractor drawn ridger. The depth of furrow must be 20 cm.
  • Open irrigation channels at 10 m intervals.

Earthing Up

After application of 3rd dose fertilizer (90 days), work victory plough along the ridges for efficient and economical earthing up. At 150 days after planting, earthing up may be done with spade.

SWEET SORGHUM (Sorghum bicolor)

Farm Land Preparation

Form ridges and furrows at a spacing of 45 cm apart

TROPICAL SUGARBEET

Field preparation 

Well drained sandy loam and clayey loam soils having medium depth (45” cm) with fairly good organic status are suitable. Tropical sugarbeet require deep ploughing (45 cm) and followed by 2 – 3 ploughing to obtain a good soil tilth condition for favorable seed germination.  Ridges and furrows are formed at 50 cm apart.

FORAGE CROPS

FODDER CHOLAM

IRRIGATED CHOLAM

Ploughing 

Plough with an iron plough once and with a country plough twice.

Forming Ridges and Furrows

Form ridges and furrows of 6 m long and 60 cm apart and plant on either side of the ridge

FODDER CUMBU

Preparatory Cultivation

Plough with an iron plough once and with a country plough twice.

FODDER MAIZE

Ploughing 

Plough the field twice with an iron plough and three or four times with country plough.

Forming Ridges and Furrows

Form ridges and furrows using a ridger, 30 cm apart are form beds of size 10 m2 or 20 m2 depending on the availability of water and slope of the land.

NEELAKOLUKATTAI (BLUE BUFFEL GRASS) – (Cenchrus glaucus 

Ploughing

Plough the field twice or thrice with an iron plough to ensure good tilth.

GUINEA GRASS (Panicum maximum)

Preparatory Cultivation

Plough 2 to 3 times to obtain a good tilth and form ridges and furrows at 50 cm spacing. 

DEENANATH GRASS (Pennisetum pedicellatum)

Preparatory Cultivation

Plough 2-3 times to obtain good tilth and form beds and channels.

CUMBU – NAPIER HYBRIDS

Ploughing

Plough with an iron plough two to three times to obtain good tilth.

LUCERNE – KUDIRAI MASAL (Medicago sativa)

Ploughing

Plough three or four times with country plough to obtain good tilth.

Forming Beds

Form beds of size 10 m2 or 20 m2 depending on the availability of water and slope of land.

HEDGE LUCERNE – VELIMASAL ( Desmanthus virgatus )

Ploughing 

Plough two to three times with an iron plough to obtain good tilth.

Forming Ridges and Furrows

Form ridges and furrows 50 cm apart using ridger and irrigation channels across furrows.

FODDER COWPEA

Ploughing
            Plough twice with an iron plough and three or four times with country plough to obtain good tilth.

Forming Ridges and Furrows

  • Form ridges and furrows of  6 m length and 30 cm apart.
  • If ridges and furrows are not made, form beds of size 20 m2 depending on the availability of  water

Preparatory Cultivation

Ploughing

Plough the field two to three times to obtain good tilth.

Forming Beds

Form beds of size 10 m2 or 20 m2

LEUCAENA – SOUNDAL ( Leucaena leucocephala )

Ploughing 

Plough twice with an iron plough and 3 or 4 times with country plough to obtain good tilth.

Forming Ridges and Furrows 

Form ridges and furrows (using a ridger) 6 m along and 1 m apart and irrigation channels across the furrows.

 

Modern concepts of tillage

Modern concepts of tillage: In conventional tillage, energy is often wasted and sometimes, soil structure is destroyed. Recently  considerable changes has taken place in tillage practices and several new concepts have been introduced namely, minimum tillage, zero tillage, stubble mulch tillage.

The immediate cause for introducing minimum tillage was high cost of tillage due to steep rise in oil prices. In addition there are problems associated with conventional tillage. Repeated use of heavy machinery, destroys structure, causes soil pans and leads to erosion.

The needs of planting zone (row zone) and water management zone (inter row zone) are different. In row crops, it is sufficient to provide fine tilth in the row zone for creating conditions optimal for sowing and conducive to rapid and complete germination and seedling establishment. In the inter-row zone, secondary tillage is not done and it should be rough and cloddy where soil structure is coarse and open so that weeds may not germinate and more water infiltrates into the soil. The important object of tillage is weed control which can be done by herbicides.

The Practice of inverting the top soil in order to bury manures and crop residues becomes less important object of tillage in modem field management as the use of animal and green manure is rather uncommon. Crop residues can and in many cases should be left over the surface as stubble mulch to protect against evaporation and erosion losses. Research has shown that frequent tillage is rarely beneficial and often detrimental. All these reasons led to the development and practice of minimum tillage, zero tillage and stubble mulch farming etc.

Minimum Tillage

It involves considerable soil disturbance, though to a much lesser extent than that associated with conventional tillage. Minimum tillage is aimed at reducing tillage to the minimum necessary for ensuring a good seedbed, rapid germination, a satisfactory stand and favourable growing conditions.

Tillage can be reduced in two ways:

  1. by omitting operation which do not give much benefit when compared to the cost.
  2. by combining agricultural operations like seeding and fertilizer application.

Advantages of minimum tillage

    • Improved soil conditions due to decomposition of plant residues in situ;
    • Higher infiltration caused by the vegetation present on the soil and channels formed by the decomposition of dead roots;
    • Less resistance to root growth due to improved structure;
    • Less soil compaction by the reduced movement of heavy  tillage vehicles and less soil erosion compared to conventional tillage.

Note: These advantages are evident on coarse and medium textured soils and appear after two to three years of practicing minimum tillage.

Disadvantages of minimum tillage

  • Seed germination is lower with minimum tillage.
  • In minimum tillage, more nitrogen has to be added as rate of decomposition of organic matter is slow.
  • Nodulation is affected in some leguminous crops like peas and broad beans.
  • Sowing operations are difficult with ordinary equipment.
  • Continuous use of herbicides cause pollution problems and dominance of perennial problematic weeds.

Different methods of minimum tillage practiced

Row Zone Tillage

After primary tillage with mould board plough, secondary tillage operations like disking and harrowing are reduced. The secondary tillage is done in the row zone only.

Plough-plant Tillage

After the soil is ploughed, a special planter is used and in one run over the field, the row zone is’ pulverised and seeds are sown.

Wheel Track Planting

Ploughing is done as usual. Tractor is used for sowing and the wheels of the tractor pulverise the row zone.

Zero Tillage

Zero tillage is also called as no till. Zero tillage is an extreme form of minimum tillage. Primary tillage is completely avoided and secondary tillage is restricted to seedbed preparation in the row zone only.

Till planting is one method of practicing zero tillage. The machinery accomplishes four task in one operation: clean a narrow strip over the crop row, open the soil for seed insertion, place the seed and cover the seed properly. A wide sweep and trash bars clear a strip over the previous crop row and planter-shoe opens a narrow strip into which seeds are planted and covered.

In zero tillage, herbicide functions are extended. Before sowing, the vegetation present has to be destroyed for which broad spectrum, nonselective herbicides with relatively short residual effect (Paraquat, Glyphosate etc.,) are used.


Till planting

Stubble mulch Tillage

Conventional method of tillage results in soil erosion. Stubble mulch tillage or stubble mulch farming a new approach was developed for keeping soil protected at all times whether by growing a crop or by crop residues left on the surface during fallow periods. It is a year round system of managing plant residue with implements that undercut residue, loosen the soil and kill weeds.

Sweeps or blades are generally used to cut the soil up to 12 to 15cm depth in the first operation after harvest and the depth of cut reduced during subsequent operations. When unusually large amount of residues are present, a disc type implement is used for the first operation to incorporate some of the residues into the soil. This hastens decomposition, but still keeps enough residues on the soil.

Two methods are adopted for sowing crops in stubble mulch farming:

1. Similar to zero tillage, a wide sweep and trash-bars are used to clear a strip and a narrow planter-shoe opens a narrow furrow into which seeds are placed.

2. A narrow chisel of 5 to 10 cm width is worked through the soil at a depth of 15 to 30 cm leaving all plant residues on the surface.

The chisel shatters tillage pans and surface crusts. Planting is done through residues with special planters.

Tillage implements

Tillage implements are broadly categorized into several groups depending on the purpose for which they are use:

Primary Tillage implements

Implements used for opening and loosening of the soil are known as ploughs. Ploughs are used for primary tillage. Ploughs are of three types: wooden ploughs, iron or inversion ploughs and special purpose ploughs.

Wooden plough or Indigenous plough

Indigenous plough is an implement which is made of wood with an iron share point. It consists of body, shaft pole, share and handle. It is drawn with bullocks. It cuts a V shaped furrow and opens the soil but there is no inversion. Ploughing operation is also not perfect because some unploughed strip is always left between furrows. This is reduced by cross ploughing, but even then small squares remain unploughed.

Soil Turning Ploughs

Soil turning ploughs are made of iron and drawn by a pair of bullocks or two depending on the type of soil. These are also drawn by tractors. 

Mouldboard Plough

The parts of mouldboard plough are frog or body, mouldboard or wing, share, landside, connecting, rod, bracket and handle. This type of plough leaves no unploughed land as the furrow slices are cut clean and inverted to one side resulting in better pulverisation. The animal drawn mouldboard plough is small, ploughs to a depth of 15 cm, while two mouldboard ploughs which are bigger in size are attached to the tractor and ploughed to a depth of 25 to 30 cm. Mouldboard ploughs are used where soil inversion is necessary. Victory plough is an animal drawn mouldboard plough with a short shaft.

Disc Plough

The disc plough bears little resemblance to the common mouldboardplough. A large, revolving, concave steel disc replaces the share and the mouldboard. The disc turns the furrow slice to one side with a scooping action. The usual size of the disc is 60 cm in diameter and this turns a 35 to 30 cm furrow slice. The disc plough is more suitable for land in which there is much fibrous growth of weeds as the disc cuts and incorporates the weeds. The disc plough works well in soils free from stones. No harrowing is necessary to break the clods of the upturned soil as in a mouldboard plough.

Turn-wrest or Reversible or One-way Plough

The plough bottom in this plough is hinged to the beam such that the mouldboard and the share can be reversed to the left or to the right side of the beam. This adjustment saves the trouble of turning the plough in hilly tracts, but yet facilitates inversion of the furrow slice to one side only.

SPECIAL PLOUGHS

Subsoil Plough: 

Subsoil plough is designed to break up hard layers or pans without bringing them to the surface. The body of the subsoil plough is wedge shaped and narrow while the share is wide so as to shatter the hard pan and making only a slot on the top layers. 

Chisel Plough:

Chisel plough is used for breaking hard pans and for deep ploughing (60-70 cm) with less disturbance to the top layers. Its body is thin with replaceable cutting edge so as to have minimum disturbance to the top layers. It contains a replaceable share to shatter the lower layers.

                    
Ridge Plough: 

Ridge plough has two mould boards, one for turning the soil to the right and another to the left. The share is common for both the mould boards i.e. double winged. These mould boards are mounted on a common body. The, ridge plough is used to split the field into ridges and furrows and for earthing up of crops. Ridge ploughs are used to make broad bed and furrows by attaching two ridge ploughs on a frame at 150em spacing between them.


Rotary Plough or Rotary Hoes:

Rotary plough cuts the soil and pulverizes it. The cutting of soil is done by either blades or tynes. The blade types are widely used. The depth of cut is up to 12 to 15 cm. It is suitable for light soils.

Basin Lister:

Basin lister is a heavy implement with one or two mouldboards or shovels. These shovels are mounted on a special type of frame on which they act alternately. This implement is used to form listed furrows (broken furrows with small dams and basins) to prevent free runoff of rainfall and blowing off the soil in low rainfall areas.

Secondary Tillage Implements

Different types of implements like cultivators, harrows, planks and rollers are used for secondary tillage.

Tractor Drawn Cultivator:

Cultivator is an implement used for finer operations like breaking clods and working the soil to a fine tilth in the preparation of seedbed. Cultivator is also known as tiller or tooth harrow. It is used to further loosen the previously ploughed land before sowing. It is also used to destroy weeds that germinate after ploughing. Cultivator has two rows of tynes attached to its frame in staggered form. The main object of providing two rows and staggering the position of tynes is to provide clearance between tynes so that clods and plant residues can freely pass through without blocking. Provision is also made in the frame by drilling holes so that tynes can be set close or apart as desirect. The number of tynes ranges from 7 to 13. The shares of the tynes can be replaced when they are worn out.

Sweep Cultivator

In stubble-mulch farming, it is difficult to prepare the land with ordinary implements due to clogging. Sweep cultivator is the implements useful under this condition. It consists of large inverted V shaped blades attached to a cultivator frame. These blades run parallel to soil surface at a depth of 10 to IS cm. They are armged in two rows and staggered. Sweep cultivator is used to cut up to 12 to 15cm depth of soil during first operation after harvest and shallower during subsequent operations. It is worked frequently to control weeds. It can also be used for harvesting groundnut.

Harrows

Harrows are used for shallow cultivation in operations such as preparation of seedbed, covering seeds and destroying weed seedlings. Harrows a~ of two types: disc harrow and blade harrow. ‘ 

Disc Harrow

The disc harrow consists of a number of concave discs of 45 to 55 cm in diameter. These discs are smaller in size than disc plough, but more number of discs are arranged on a frame. These discs are fitted 15cm apart on axles. Two sets of discs are mounted on two axles. All the discs revolve together with axles. The discs cut through the soil and effectively pulverise the clods.

Blade Harrow

Blade harrows are used for different purposes like removal of weeds and stubbles, crushing of clods working of soil to shallow depth, covering the seeds, intercutivation and harvesting of groundnut etc. The blade harrows useful for intercultivation are discussed later. Blade harrows are two types viz. indigenous and improved.

Indigenous Blade Harrows

The general design of an indigenous blade harrow which is known as guntaka consists of a beam to which two pegs are attached at the ends. A blade is attached to these two pegs. Two shaft poles and’ a handle are the other parts of guntaka. Depending on the beam length and weight, the are known by different names and used for- different purposes.

Plank and Roller

Plank is a very simple implement and consists of a heavy wooden beam of 2 m in length. In addition, shafts and handle are fixed to the beams. When it is worked most of the clods are crushed due to its weight. It also helps in micro levelling and slight compaction necessary after sowing. Rollers are used mainly, to crush the hard clods and to compact the soil in seed rows.

Implements for Layout of seedbed

            Country plough
            Ridge plough
            Bund former

Country plough and ridge plough are used for laying out the field into ridges and furrows or to layout irrigation channels.

Ridge ploughs, when attached to a frame can be used for making broad-bed furrows.

Bunds for irrigation in the garden lands are made usually by manual labour using spades. Bunds are also formed across the contours in the low rainfall regions to conserve soil moisture. The bund farmer is designed to form these bunds replacing manual labour. This implement consists of a pair of iron mould boards fixed in opposite direction facing each other with the front end opening outwards and rear and closing in to form bunds.  

Marker is used to mark intercepts for transplanting seedlings by square planting method. It consists of a beam to which 3 or 4 wooden tyres are fixed, the spacing of which depends on the spacing the crop. When it is run in two directions, very shallow furrow markings are formed in two directions. Seedlings are transplanted at the intercepts.

Implements for sowing

Plough

The seeds are dropped by hand in the furrow formed by the country plough. The seeds faIl at uneven depths due to falling at random in furrow slice. To avoid this problem Akkadi is used. Akkadi is a hollow bamboo tube which is sharpened at one end and with wide hopper at another end. It is tied to country plough with the help of a rope and seeds dropped in the akkadi’ s hopper. Seeds pass through the tube and fall in the furrow opened by the plough.

Seed Drill

Seed drill consists of a wooden beam to which 3 to 6 tynes are fixed. These tynes open the furrows into which the seeds are dropped. Holes are made into these tynes and into these holes, the bottom ends of bamboo or metal seed tubes are fitted. These seed tubes are connected at the top to a wooden seed receptacle called hopper. The seeds are fed at a uniform rate ‘into this hopper by skilled labour walking behind the seed drill.

Ferti-cum-Seed Drill

Fertilisers are placed at a depth of 5 cm and 5 cm away from seed rows for effective utilisation of fertilisers. Both operations viz. drilling seeds and fertilizers are done simultaneously by ferti-cum-seed drill. It is similar to seed drill, but with extra tynes and hopper for drilling fertilizers. 

Mechanical Seed Drill

The seed drill consists of a seed drum with holes in the bottom plate corresponding to the number of seed tubes for passing the seed into the seed tubes. A rotating disc has holes in a circular path and it is kept over a bottom plate. When the holes of rotating disc and bottom plate coincide, seed falls into the tube on its way into the soil. The distance between two holes in rotating disc is proportional to the inter-row spacing of crop. For sowing seeds of different sizes, rotating discs with different sized holes are used. There is provision for altering the distance between the rows by changing distance between the tynes. Inter-row spacing can be changed by using rotating discs with more space between the holes. Seed drills with different mechanisms for automatic drilling of seed are also available.

Implements for intercultivation

            Wooden plough
            Small blade harrow
            Weeders – Rotary weeders

Country plough and ridge ploughs are used for earthing sugarcane, potato etc. Country plough is run to a shallow depth to control weeds in widely spaced crops and fruit trees.

Small sized blade harrows are widely used for intercultivation. Several of them are designed by local artisans to suit special purposes and are given local names. These are simple in design, easy to make, cheap and serve the purpose excellently.

Intercultivation in close growing crops is done with danthi and each danthi covers one row only. A number of danthis are attached to a yoke for covering more area. The length of the blade of pilla guntaka ranges from 30 to 45cm. Depending on the inter-row spacing of the crop, the blade length is 10cm less than the inter-row spacing of the crop.

Tobacco blade harrow has longer blade than its beam so as to scrape the weeds on the soil without damaging the brittle petioles of tobacco.

Star weeder is a small implement pushed by manual labour. It consists of a long wooden or iron vertical rod with a small horizontal rod for holding the implement. To the other end, two star like wheels and a small blade of 10 cm are attached. The pointed teeth of rotating wheels loosen the soil and help in easy mobility of the implement while the blade helps in cutting the weeds. It is useful to control small weeds in close growing crops like groundnut, foxtail millet etc.

Rotary Weeder

Strip-till systems can benefit corn

Justin Davey

Tillage practices are varied for farms today, depending on the farmer’s vision for the land, but strip-till systems can benefit corn by combining many of the best aspects of no-till and conventional tillage systems, according to a report from DuPont Pioneer. The advantages of strip-till are generally most pronounced for corn following corn, where strip-till can help improve seedbed uniformity and reduce plant-to-plant variability compared to no-till.

Strip-till systems can benefit corn“Strip tillage encourages more favorable soil temperature, moisture and aeration conditions for germinating seeds and seedling plants,” says Pioneer’s Jerry Harrington. “This can translate to improved crop establishment and early season performance. Strip-till also offers the opportunity to place fertilizers directly into the root zone, away from crop residues that could otherwise intercept or immobilize nutrients,” he says.

The report continues to assert that strip-till provides benefits over conventional tillage practices in the areas of conservation and efficiency. “By leaving the interrow untilled, crop residues are retained on the soil surface providing increased erosion resistance and organic inputs,” it says. Strip-till can also reduce field passes and input costs compared to conventional tillage.

Tips for successful strip-till

It’s important to consider field selection, tillage timing, and strip placement when implementing strip till into your operation. According to the report, “Guidance systems and strip-till units with parallel linkage help ensure accurate seed placement and consistent depth control. It may take a season or two to become skilled at staying on the strips—so give it time and stick with it.

Source: http://www.agriculture.com