Conservation agriculture for improving water productivity in Vertisols of semi-arid tropics

Patil, M D and Wani, S P and Garg, K K (2016) Conservation agriculture for improving water productivity in Vertisols of semi-arid tropics. Current Science, 110 (09). pp. 1730-1739. ISSN 0011-3891

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Large variability and uncertainty of rainfall are the main limiting factors for crop growth in rainfed agriculture. Agriculture water management interventions are considered as suitable adoption strategy to enhance crop yield, productivity and income in rainfed condition. Three-year experimental data collected at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi- Arid Tropics, Patancheru, India are analysed to study the impact of in-situ interventions (tillage and crop residue) on field water balance and grain yield under the two different cropping systems (maize + chickpea sequential and maize/pigeon pea intercropping). One dimensional water balance model is calibrated to capture field hydrology (soil water, surface runoff). Weather data calibrated for 36 years showed that incorporating crop residues reduced surface runoff by 28% compared to control fields. However, the impact of tillage and residue treatment on soil water was not consistent throughout the growing period. Water productivity values for intercropping systems (WUE = 0.61 to 1.49 kg m–3) were relatively higher compared to sequential cropping systems (WUE = 0.47 to 1.06 kg m–3). Second crop in sequential cropping system often suffered from water stress that led to poor crop yield. However, a few rain events at the end of the monsoon period were beneficial to second crop. Simulation results indicated that the conservation agriculture could save up to 30% yield loss incurred due to water stress during deficit rainfall compared to conventional agricultural practices.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Research Program : Asia
CRP: CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems
Uncontrolled Keywords: Conservation agriculture, crop residue, minimum tillage, rainfed agriculture, semi-arid tropics, soil water balance, Vertisols
Subjects: Others > Soil Science
Depositing User: Mr Ramesh K
Date Deposited: 10 May 2016 06:55
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2016 10:30
Official URL:
Acknowledgement: Field experiments were conducted by a multi-disciplinary team. We acknowledge the help of Drs Ram Jat and Girish Chander and Mr Pardhasaradhi during these experiments.This article is part of a special edition on Soil and Water Management (Volume 110, Issue - 09, May 10, 2016)
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