Sustainable soil-nutrients and crop management is a must for food security
RAJSHAHI, Dec 8 (BSS)- Sustainable soil-nutrients and crop management is a must for food security considering the prevailing risk of irrigation- water scarcity in the country’s northwest region particularly in its vast Barind tract.
However, large- scale promotion of conservation agriculture and nutrients management could be the effective means of overcoming the risk. Besides, farmers’ income and livelihood could be possible through integrated crop and resource management.
Agriculture scientists and researchers made this observation while visiting some trial fields of wheat and lentil, which were brought under the modern system, along with sharing views with the farmers at Kapasia under Paba and Chalkpolashi under Puthiya upazilas of the district yesterday.
Regional Wheat Research Center (RWRC) has been conducting the field level research works with technical support from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) project.
Prof Dr Richard Bell of Faculty of Sustainability, Environmental and Life Sciences of Murdoch University of Australia and Leader of the project Dr Ross Brennan, who is also the Principal Research Officer of Department of Agriculture and Food of Western Australia, visited the research plots to see for themselves the present position.
They expressed their satisfaction over seeing the trial plots and modern farmers-practice.
RWRC Principal Scientific Officer Dr Israil Hossain and its Senior Scientific Officer Dr Ilias Hossain accompanied the visiting team and briefed them.
Main objective of the visit was to knowledge-sharing through discussion and interaction among the researchers and farmers in the field level outcomes along with overcoming the existing problems being faced by the farmers.
Sharing views with the farmers the scientists termed the conservation agriculture as less soil disturbance, beneficial crop rotation and residue management.
In this context, they opined that the yearly crop-rotation of T-Aman- wheat/lentil-mugbean/chickpea has been found as beneficial for the farmers through applying the bed-planting, power tiller operated direct seeding and strip tillage methods.
Prof. Richard Bell mentioned that conservation agriculture allows improving soil bulk density, increase soil biological activities and increase water holding capacity as it needs less soil disturbance and residue management.
During interaction, however, the farmers said that new seeding method save tillage cost, utilize residual soil moisture, timely planting, less weed due to no tilling operation.
Besides, they said the raised beds facilitate sowing without waste of time allowing crop growth to better match water availability side by side with less tillage cost, pest attack and weed nuisance.
Likewise, they also revealed that the direct seeding, bed- planting and strip tillage have been detected as most cost- effective tools of the conservation agriculture and nutrient management.
Not only that, they said, bed planting improves water distribution and irrigation efficiency, better results out of fertilizers and pesticides and reduces weed infestation and crop lodging.
It saves crops from disturbance from rats, they said. The pattern helps farmers save 30 per cent irrigation water and 30 to 40 per cent of seeds and fertilizers.
In this regard, they demanded machinery availability and adequate training for them to operate the machine competently for the sake of successful promotion of the conservation agriculture method in the days to come.
Under the conventional system, RWRC Principal Scientific Officer Dr Israil Hossain said, the single largest constraint requires planting of wheat in the country late in winter, leading to poor yield.
He favored more expansion of the modern technology to other areas of the region including its vast tract of Barind area to minimize the current water stress condition.
The policy planners should consider the new agriculture technology dissemination through their concerned agencies for better and sustainable agriculture productivity, Dr Hossain added.
Principles of conservation agriculture are use of reduced tillage, retention of some amounts of residues in the field, sustainable and profitable crop diversification and or crop rotation and judicious use of natural resources.
In present context of climate change especially unpredictable rainfall, unusual drought and other natural calamities, he said this technology can help the farmers utilizing the minimum amount of water for crop establishment like avoiding paddling operation.
Demand of food production is gradually increasing to feed the huge number population and more pressures are coming on per- unit cultivable land.
So, the new and updated technology is capable to enhance production and productivity in cost-effective way, he opined.
To this end, understanding of better livelihoods and improved mechanisms of stakeholder participation must be ensured. Different international donor organizations should support such kind of need-oriented agricultural activity for its large-scale promotion which needs supply of need-based adequate machinery.
Some proven benefits of the conservation agriculture- based machinery such as power tiller operated seeder (PTOS) and bed former or planters are included early planting, increased yield, reduce production costs and water requirement and help improve the environment by reducing the greenhouse gas emissions.
PTOS can play a vital role to enhance farmers’ income, minimize production cost and crop- diversification. In the conventional tillage system, soil losses organic matters, breaks structure, reduce beneficial organism activities, more erosion and ultimately loss fertility.
In this regard, he viewed that there is no alternative to promote updated technologies at farmers level to make the crop- diversification system successful to face the existing constraints of both surface and groundwater resources.
By using the new pattern of crop rotation, he said huge more Barind land that remain fallow in the region after the harvest of transplanted Aman each year, could be used to grow wheat/lentil, followed by chickpea/mugbean, through providing small irrigation facilities.